Successful entrepreneurs are usually working on three horizons at once: 1. the now - their current products for the current market; 2. the next - products for emerging markets; and 3. the nascent - thinking and working towards the far future.
Short-sighted entrepreneurs spend all the time just on their present issues. Successful entrepreneurs carve out time to address the future as well by consciously allocating their time using a formula like this:
Trifocal Execution for existing products
Successful entrepreneurs keep three perspectives on their existing products:
- they "Play Three Games" as a product development strategy.
- they also evolve to meet all three stages of a market's development
Trifocal Execution for new product development
Successful entrepreneurs are also looking beyond their existing products to develop their next products. These are not extensions of your existing products, making them better, faster, or (save us) adding still more features.
Rather, this is imagining completely new products, using your core competencies and brand to address new emerging spaces, not the existing market. So...
- what opportunities will digital cars, and smart watches, open up for mobile app developers?
- what possibilities will 3D printing unleash for device innovators?
- how can you take advantage of the ubiquitous augmented reality that will come with the widespread use of Google Glasses and the like?
Visionary entrepreneurs look even further out, going beyond responding to already emerging spaces, to actively shaping early nascent spaces to their advantage. At this stage, simple small nudges can have large long-term strategic effects:
helping to set an emerging technical standard can align it to your company's strengths
influencing the first legislation for regulating new technologies can place you in strong position
building early relationships with very new small players can unlock immense synergies in the future
(If you want to see this at work, look at how Elon Musk is working to change the regulatory environment for the commercialisation of space).
Discipline is needed...
Simultaneously working with three focuses - now, next and nascent - does not happen without great discipline.
It takes real discipline to consciously allocate and protect the time for the next and the nascent, when the now is screaming for attention. But without this discipline you will have no future...
I hope this will help you to do lasting work....
Neil Hinrichsen is the founder of Koi. An entrepreneur all his life, Neil has cofounded two startups both of which were acquired, and is now working to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs in SA through his Koi platform, comprising a methodology for startups, classes, coffee sessions, mentoring, the KoiTips newsletters and a thriving online group. He loves working with young entrepreneurs who want to change the world. Neil also helps Microsoft with their BizSpark programme for top startups, provides mentoring at the Innovation Hub and other incubators, consults with corporates, advises the CSIR in South Africa on commercialising research, is an accredited specialist with the University of Pretoria and serves on the advisory board for Stellenbosch University's LaunchLab incubator. On the personal side he's involved in youth ministry and mentoring township teenagers. Learn more about Koi: KOI GUIDE | EMAIL email@example.com
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