Shaping the Future for Good

Shaping the Future for Good

It’s obvious that broken systems and inequities need to be changed or disrupted.  Innovation happens during a crisis out of necessity and now more than ever, entrepreneurs are needed to help solve big problems. Being a resourceful and creative entrepreneur has the potential to transform current hardships into valuable solutions for people who need them most.  

Friends have made comments such as, “I wonder what’s going to happen?” While nobody has a crystal ball, what if we asked ourselves different questions to help shape the future for good? How can we take action rather than staying on the sidelines? Whether it’s a business or non-profit, the time is ripe to get creative and make a positive impact.

Although it may sound like the worst time ever to start a company, companies such as Netflix, MailChimp, Airbnb, Square, and CNN all started during a recession. As Stanford economist Paul Romer once stated, “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste” meaning a crisis creates opportunities for progress and innovation as well as hardship.  

If you’re a future entrepreneur wondering how to get started on an idea and dig into a problem to solve, consider the following questions:

  • What problem makes you so mad you could scream?  
  • What kinds of interests or skills do you already have and what could you expand on or take courses in during this time?  
  • How can you help someone in an industry you want to impact right now?  
  • Are there existing groups, organizations, businesses doing something positive that resonates with you?
  • What are the biggest trends happening now and what gaps do you see happening in the future that will inevitably need a solution?

Additional advice from Harvard Business Review’s article, Turn Your Covid-19 Solution into a Viable Business suggests, “In order to determine whether your new product or service is addressing a long-term or short-term problem, I recommend that entrepreneurs start by looking to the past. Construct a market-opportunity analysis using data from 2019 and earlier. Was the problem you are addressing now a problem then? And, if so, how big was it? Next, list what specifically changed with the emergence of Covid-19 that created or amplified this problem and the need for your innovation.”

Finding a problem to solve is not about making an accurate forecast.  It’s about getting really curious and looking at overall trends and discerning what doesn’t work.  

For example, senior living or “graduated care” has increased in cost to the point of ridiculousness.  At the same time,  30% of Boomers have not saved for retirement, nor have 50% of Gen Xers.  What are the ramifications of this trend in the senior living category?  If these generations can’t afford to live in a graduated care facility, more people will need to age in place - so what tools will they need to do this successfully?  How will loneliness be treated for example?  Looking at different trends can help develop insights and see gaps that others don’t see.

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it.  You can build your own things that other people can use.  Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” 

 - Steve Jobs 

We need creative minds coming up with solutions to current problems that can make a significant impact on our community, nation and world. We all have the power to learn from this crisis and carve out ideas and create the future we want and need. We as mid-career professionals have experiences and skills that can be invaluable when pointed at the innumerable challenges we all face today.

Have an idea for building something for the future? Want to talk it over or meet others who can help you get started? Drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.

Reviewed & Recommended:

Starting Greatness Podcast: Mike Maples Jr. is interviewed by Shane Parrish about the need for great entrepreneurs 

If you want to start your own company for future good, this podcast is inspiring.  Mike Maples Jr. is the Co-Founder & Partner of Floodgate, a VC firm.  He’s been on the Forbes “Midas List” several years in a row and knows a thing or two about what makes a successful company as well as how to find the “seeers” who see the future. 

Harvard Business Review:  Turn Your Covid19 Ideas into a Business

This article has tips on how to begin your Covid-19 business and offers four areas to focus on during the creation of your business; 1. Does it address a long term problem? 2. Identify your long term market 3. Pivot your business if needed 4. Map your business model.