Written by Monique Mills, MBA, PMP, Founder of TPM Focus
What is that?
The phone pictured above was taken at the house where the Movie ‘A Christmas Story’ was filmed in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s an all-time classic that comes on TV every holiday season. While touring the home, several children and teenagers asked, “What is that?” This really makes you think, right? You see, these children had never seen this device before! In fact, some of you reading this may have never seen this device before, but I remember using it not long ago. While everyone says to live in the moment, I believe we need to simultaneously focus on the future. Times have changed and the world is continuing to change at an extremely fast pace. Look around; cars are now driving themselves!
Working in the Future
The workforce will be almost unrecognizable in a few years all due to technology. I recently discovered this new restaurant called Spyce that does an incredible job of automating their restaurant. They have created the world’s first robotic kitchen and the precision is amazing. While they still employ a chef, their job is quite different than before and requires more creativity and service than anything else.
Although it’s challenging to find a job now, it will become even more so in the future. Education is and will always be important (ignore the naysayers!), but it’s no longer about memorizing information and getting a lifetime job anymore. The world is taking a turn where businesses provide value through selling a customized service or a technology that solves a problem and/or minimizes/eliminates human effort. So, where do you go from here? If you are a small business owner, an aspiring entrepreneur, or a career-seeking professional, your most important skill sets to be competitive in the future will involve: communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
Pivot and Adjust
When I speak to groups, I quite often mention that my engineering degree, more than anything, trained me to think strategically (about everything!). Being successful in your career is not about memorizing formulas or information, but the application of the information learned. Of course, certain formulas are drilled in my head forever (shout out to Ohm’s Law), but ultimately I know how to find solutions to problems while having access to minimal information and have built a career founded upon that skill set. It’s the ultimate competency required to “build something from nothing” as so commonly recited by the startup community. You see, the founders of a startup company, particularly a tech startup company, are walking in the dark for the most part (trust me, I know and have been there and done it!). While they bring their experience and expertise into the company, they are still only able to see the area right in front of them and hope to figure things out as they go along. Sure, there’s plenty of uncertainty that requires courage to overcome (honestly you never overcome the fear, you just move forward despite it), but ultimately, there is no way to avoid this. It’s part of the process. Being able to pivot and constantly adjust is the core competency of the future.
Fast and Strategic Action
The speed at which technology is changing the world is unprecedented. The internet is the greatest invention of our lifetime. It enables abysmal access to opportunity, relationships, information, and innovation. There are hundreds of solutions to one, single problem and a software created today could be outdated by the end of the year. In order to enter the market and test your business quickly, I always advise startup founders to build their MVP quickly (but only after proper customer discovery!), utilizing existing technologies and open source code, as much as possible. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel, particularly if you’re just testing out how people will respond to your new found solution. If founders take too long perfecting a technology for a yet-to-be-proven business model, it’s likely to become irrelevant before gaining any traction.
Are You Doing Too Much? Probably.
In the beginning, you’re testing the market and the functionality of your solution, monitoring how your customers engage, and collecting feedback and analytics. Upon receiving feedback, you’ll need to make changes to your product anyways, and this process repeats itself for the duration of your company’s existence (if you’re successful). It’s wise to avoid over-developing product features and remain agile in your approach and remember that any innovation you’re working on today should be attached to something that has an accelerated future.
If you’re just starting out, I suggest utilizing the Business Model Canvas to flesh out your idea. Download our free template here and begin today.
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