What is your number one entrepreneurial planning tool? Your imagination.
Imagination and the Entrepreneur
“Be mindful, and project the future”, said Steve Jobs. That mantra helped him to become the creator of some of the world’s most innovative products and, what was at one stage, the world’s most valuable company. But more importantly, it is what helped him to change the world. To make it a better place for millions of people.
Where is the imagination?
Yet how often have you come across business textbooks that talk about “mindfulness” or “projecting the future”? How often is any aspect of “imagination” prescribed in university business courses as an integral part of the formula for developing sound financial and operational plans for your company?
For some strange reason, imagination, this fundamental tenet of business planning, is largely hush hushed in academic courses and business literature in general.
It is imagination that led to some of the biggest innovations of our time.
President Woodrow Wilson had stated that a car was “a picture of the arrogance of wealth”. Henry Ford proved him wrong. Ford imagined a world where the majority of households owned a car and less than 20 years later, his vision was a reality.
Ken Olsen of DEC famously said “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home”. However, Bill Gates discounted that attitude, boldly imagining a computer on every desk and in every home. 20 years later, he was right too.
Look at Herb Kelleher in Southwest Airlines who pronounced that he would make “air travel affordable for all” by operating his airline in an entirely different way. 20 years later and… well, you get the idea.
Projecting the Future
Forecasting and planning is an essential tool to any business. It’s important for giving clarity on who on your team is to do what and when.
No company will ever have 20/20 vision for the future, but a great planning process can at least make things moderately more predictable in the short term. Remember that punching in the variables, the assumptions, the growth rates and everything else should be a consequence of an earlier stage of the planning process – imagining what the company can become.
Do you think AirBnB would have grown to be a larger provider of accommodation services than Hilton if its founder, Brian Chesky, had not imagined as part of his planning process? Or that Zappos would have become the biggest retailer of shoes in the world if its founder, Tony Hsieh, had not “projected the future”?
Sure, some companies are lucky and stumble on something that ends up being wildly bigger than they ever imagined. But behind these stories of “stumbled upon” good fortune, I bet you’ll often discover that the founders always believed that their company could be enormously successful, but they were too humble to admit that publicly.
At SkillPages, we imagine that one day, every skilled person in the world will have a SkillPages profile. We imagine that skilled people across the globe will be presented with new life enhancing opportunities through SkillPages. We believe that SkillPages will enable a more perfect labor market in which people with skills are more easily connected to the people who need them.
There will be fantastic knock-on effects from this. Our users will learn from each other, perfecting their skills and growing peer to peer relationships. Skilled people will get found more easily by new customers or employers seeking their skills.
Overall, we believe that SkillPages can be a catalyst to skilled people all over the world enjoying new opportunities that they otherwise would never experience. And this belief, that SkillPages will improve the lives of millions of people, is what motivates us every day. We’re looking forward to what happens over the next 20 years, as what we have imagined becomes a reality.