A lot of companies focus on the next big thing. They latch on to what's hot and new. They follow the latest trends and technology.
That's a fool's path. You start focusing on fashion instead of substance. You start paying attention to things that are constantly changing instead of things that last.
The core of your business should be built around things that won't change. Things that people are going to want today and ten years from now. Those are the things you should invest in.
Amazon.com focuses on fast(or free) shipping, great selection, friendly return policies, and affordable prices. These things will always be in high demand.
Japanese automakers also focus on core principles that don't change: reliability, affordability, and practicality. People wanted those things thirty years ago, they want them today, and they'll want them thirty years from now.
For 37signals, things like speed, simplicity, ease of use and clarity are our focus. Those are timeless desires. People aren't going to wake up in ten years and say, "Man, I wish software was harder to use." They won't say, "I wish this application was slower."
Remember, fashion fades away. When you focus on permanent features, you're in bed with things that never go out of style.