by Eddie Lester, founder of Fitness Mentors
Unless you are Coca-Cola, there’s a good chance that your company relies on innovation, evolution and forward-thinking to sell products or services. Personally, I remain in a constant state of thought about how I can evolve my companies because I know that if I don’t, my competitors will create something that could bury me.
Looking toward the future as an entrepreneur may or may not be something that you do – maybe you have a single great idea that you focus all of your efforts on entirely. However, forward-thinking is something that can be learned and practiced, and I want to share my three tips that have helped me to beat out my competitors thus far.
1. Look to other industries that are expanding in new, cutting edge ways.
Perhaps the first companies that come to mind in this example are Uber and Airbnb. How many other companies have spawned off of this idea of the sharing economy that you can think of? The beauty of Uber and Airbnb is that they are fairly simple ideas and these are the ones that often make the most money.
When looking at other industries that are expanding in unique ways I often think to myself “How can I apply that to my industry?” and try to think if I can also utilize existing templates within my business. Of course, innovation doesn’t always have to lend itself to technology and creative entrepreneurs are always looking for ideas in other industries the same way musicians may be looking for inspiration from other music genres.
2. Consider problems people are talking about that don’t have solutions.
I like to think that almost any solution to a problem can be a business. It’s really just a matter of how much work you’ll have to put in to solve the problem and how much it can make you.
We all are involved, or overhear, conversations where people cite problems they have that no company has yet developed a solution for. To continue on the Uber example, co-founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp experienced the problem of not being to hail a cab while getting snowed on with a bunch of luggage in their hands while in Paris. We all know where the story goes from here – tap a button on your cellphone, get a ride.
Like Kalanick and Camp, entrepreneurs can program themselves to be on the lookout for problems that are worth solving. The world will always have its problems and entrepreneurs will always have potential business ideas in finding solutions.
3. Think of improving on what already exists.
This is often a method of forward-thinking that comes easiest for entrepreneurs in a specific niche. For me personally, I created one of my companies, Fitness Mentors, because I saw a gap in educational materials for aspiring personal trainers. At the time I was a college professor teaching courses for a specific personal trainer certification. Noticing there was a gap in materials that existed that truly helped students study in the right way, I went on to create an exhaustive course that far and away was better than anything on the market.
I think that for many entrepreneurs who are well-versed in a specific industry, combining this tip with the above two can be great ways to improve the way your business can grow.
How do You Think about the Future of Business?
In a sense, there is a way to think progressively about the business of entrepreneurship but there is no magic formula. I like to get ideas that are working in other industries and see if I can adapt those ideas to my existing business models, consider what problems are evident in the world and that I repeatedly hear people talking about to see if I can come up with solutions that have earning potential. Additionally, improving on what is already successful – but has room for growth – can also be a good way to innovate.
But what really sets the forward-thinkers apart is action. Everybody has ideas; it’s the people who dedicate themselves to them who give themselves the greatest chance of success.
Eddie Lester is a personal trainer, serial entrepreneur and fitness educator in Manhattan Beach, California and is the founder of Fitness Mentors, a personal training education website for all stages of your career. He can be found at the beach playing volleyball or surfing, or at the gym training for performance and drumming up new marketing ideas for his sites.