One of my favorite quotes is from Peter Diamandis, who said:
The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.
I am a firm believer in the power of individuals to change the world, and I think business is a great way to do that. But how? How do you come up with a world-changing idea that can be solved through business?
It turns out that I have a system for such things. I have developed this system over the last few days while tweaking a new idea I have been working on lately.
The steps to create a world-changing idea are:
1. Describe how you want the world to look in 50 years
What do you want the world to look like in 50 years? Be specific. Don’t just say “I want to live in a city like the ones in Star Wars”. Instead, say “I want a flying car in 50 years”. The more detail you can create, the better. Your goal must be well-defined.
2. Make it happen in 25 years
Once you have a vision of what you want the world to look like in 50 years, think about what you can do right now to make that vision come true in only 25 years.
3. Work backward to find a niche
Starting with that vision of the future, work backward until you reach some idea that can be accomplished with current technology. For example, we can’t build a flying car yet. But we do have cars. Is there some sort of product you can build now that gets us a step closer to a flying
4. Create a product idea for that niche
Once you have your small short-term vision that can be built with modern technology, develop a product that accomplishes both of the following:
1. It takes the first step toward your grand vision of the future. It might be a small step, but that is fine. The goal is to make it a step in the right direction.
2. It can be sold right now for a profit. Don’t build something you can sell in 5 years or even 2 years. Create something that can be sold now!
5. Develop your minimum viable product
So you have a product idea. Great! Now you need to simplify that too.
We started by taking a grand vision and simplifying it to one product. Now we need to take that one product and simplify it to one feature. Create the absolute simplest form of your product that someone will buy.
Start selling that product.
6. Bootstrap like crazy
By this point, you should have a sellable product. Start selling it, and use the money to bootstrap. Don’t go living big with the money. Remember, the goal is to change the world.
7. Work closer to your vision
Once you have money coming in, you can use that money to develop more advanced products that get you ever closer to your vision.
A real world example: Amazon.com
A perfect example of this process is seen in the growth of Amazon.com.
When Jeff Bezos started Amazon, he wasn’t just thinking about starting a bookstore; he wanted to change the face of retail itself. But he started very small. The screenshot below is an image of Amazon.com in 1994.
Looking at that web page, nobody would have suspected that Amazon would some day be developing robots to deliver packages. Or have fully automated warehouses with robots sorting packages. But it is happening.
The early days of Amazon were the minimum viable product that could be built with the current technology. But it was a step toward the vision that Jeff Bezos had for the future of retail.
So what is stopping you? Create your vision of the future, and make it happen.