The world is in desperate need of visionary entrepreneurs. Business leaders are tasked to lead their organizations through change and into the future with bold ideas and bold beliefs. Entrepreneurs must navigate changing business models that impact their customers, employees, and companies.
However, entrepreneurs can miss the opportunities of the future because of present day obstacles. Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, suggests, “Lots of companies do not succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future.”
Many founders cannot adapt quick enough or see far enough ahead to stay relevant in the future. One key trait of successful entrepreneurs is their ability to become future forecasters.
Successful entrepreneurs become futurists
Although seeing the future is not an easy task, every entrepreneur would be wise to learn to be more future-minded. Implement these steps so that you do not miss future opportunities to help build your company. There is a famous statement that teaches, “Sometimes, we need to stop analyzing the past and start planning the future.”
1. The futurist entrepreneur experiments
A futurist entrepreneur focuses on experimenting with different ideas, products, and processes. The process of experimenting and failing often leads to discovery and breakthroughs. Some of the best products the marketplace enjoys today were born out of failed experiments that lead to new ideas and new perspectives. This perspective is illustrated well in David McCullough’s book on the Wright Brothers, revealing how in 1903 two brothers in the Outer Banks of North Carolina taught the world to fly.
2. The futurist entrepreneur evaluates
The trends of today predict the behaviors of tomorrow. The futurist entrepreneur pays keen attention to the trends, both inside and outside of their industry. They pay close attention to how customers feel, act, or react in other industries because those same feelings will soon become true in their industry as well. It’s wise to engage in environmental scanning – analyzing trends, behaviors, thought patterns, and actions that impact the marketplace. The entrepreneur who buries their head into the ground will not be the entrepreneur who survives and thrives in the future.
3. The futurist entrepreneur envisions
The futurist entrepreneur envisions the future by dreaming of what is possible. Very few people in any company are engaged in dreaming about the possibilities of the future. Most business owners hire people to act in the present. Therefore, it is essential to spend considerable time thinking about new realities and new opportunities for tomorrow. Walt Disney was a master at the art of seeing into the future. He dreamed big dreams and asked his people to make those dreams a reality. He would remind his people often that, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”
4. The futurist entrepreneur engages
The futurist entrepreneur will engage in shaping the future. These types of leaders are not afraid to be trendsetters and do something outside of the box to lean into the future. This action might come in the form of developing new products and services or in new ways to engage current customers. I have taught many futurists leaders that “your destiny unfolds in the future, but it is shaped by the decisions that you make today.” The futurist entrepreneur will make decisions before they are forced to by their customers or the changing marketplace.
Every entrepreneur must consider whether they are futurist entrepreneurs? You don’t have to settle for just managing the daily operations of your company. Don’t miss out on the future and get stuck with a business from the past. Think about the future and create new products that cater to a new and rising marketplace.
Ken Gosnell is the CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience). He serves leaders by helping them to have great experiences that both transform them and their organizations that enable to go further faster. He has worked with hundreds of CEOs and leadership teams to enhance strategic, operational and people accomplishments. He is an author, coach, and strategic partner with CEOs. Ken is the creator and facilitator of the Christian CEO Linkedin Group and creator of the CEO Experience Impact Assessment. He is married to Shonda, and they have four children. Connect with @ken_gosnell on Twitter.