Being an entrepreneur today is vastly different than it was 20 years ago.
Today, each of us has access to more capital, more technological tools, more information, more talent, and more computational power than the CEOs of the world’s biggest companies did just two decades ago.
As I think about what it takes to succeed in a world of abundance and a world of accelerating returns, I focus on six mindsets and tools that every exponential entrepreneur needs to master.
Here’s a quick look:
1. You Must Understand Exponentials
We’re local and linear thinkers in an exponential world.
Our brains haven’t had a significant upgrade in over a million years, whereas our technology is doubling in power every 18 to 24 months.
Exponential technology is transforming products and services and disrupting industries. That’s why Ray Kurzweil and I cofounded Singularity University.
I often talk about my “6 Ds” framework — it’s a lens through which I contextualize all technological change and opportunities:
The 6 Ds Progression:
Digitized: Turning every product or service into “1’s and 0’s.”
Deceptive: The doubling of small numbers is deceptive. Start doubling 0.1 to 0.2… 0.4… 0.8… and at this phase, it all looks like “zero.”
Disruptive: After we reach “1,” just 30 doublings later, we’re at 1 billion.
Dematerialized: Exponential technology turns tangible “things” into digital apps. I no longer carry around GPS equipment — it’s an app on my phone.
Demonetized: The cost of duplicating and sending an app is essentially zero.
Democratized: Once products and services are digital, they go global and can become ubiquitous.
Exponential entrepreneurs use the 6 Ds as a technological road map to predict where technologies are going and when to capitalize on the opportunities. This framework gives them an unfair advantage over competitors.
2. You See the World as Abundant (vs. Scarce)
Exponential entrepreneurs understand that technology is a force that transforms things from scarcity to abundance.
Technology is creating a world of abundance in almost every major arena, including energy, knowledge, transportation, computation, access to education and access to healthcare.
Once these industries transform from scarcity to abundance, their products and services become cheap (or free) and their quality goes through the roof.
Exponential entrepreneurs understand that despite the constant barrage of negative news from the Crisis News Network (my joking term for CNN) and its ilk, the world is becoming better at an extraordinary rate on almost every possible measure, including food, energy, education, poverty and health. (Note: I collect detailed charts on “Evidence of Abundance” here.)
Exponential entrepreneurs also know that scarcity-minded, closed business models ultimately fail, and open platforms ultimately win.
3. You Leverage Exponential Technologies
Exponential entrepreneurs experiment constantly and have a deep sense of curiosity about a group of exponentially growing technologies:
Sensors and networks (Internet of Things)
Digital manufacturing/3D printing
Robotics and drones
Virtual and augmented reality
Synthetic biology and genomics
Exponential entrepreneurs understand that these are the technologies that can transform and disrupt industries.
They see how these technologies are allowing individuals to do what was only possible by governments and the largest corporations.
And further, they know that today, you don’t have to become a technologist yourself, but instead take the first step: to understand the potential and implications of the technology.
4. You Have an MTP and a Moonshot
Mindset is everything. Exponential entrepreneurs have a massively transformative purpose (MTP) that drives them to power through hardship and attracts the best talent to join them.
The most successful entrepreneurs then use their MTP to power their moonshot, a product or service in which they are going 10X bigger than everyone else.
Finally, these entrepreneurs subscribe to Google’s eight innovation principles, making them central to their startup mindset:
Focus on the user
Open will win
Ideas can come from everywhere
Think big, but start small
Never fail to fail
Spark with imagination, fuel with data
Be a platform, float all boats
Have a mission that matters
5. You Tap the Crowd for Expertise, Solutions and Capital
Exponential entrepreneurs have the opportunity to crowdsource nearly everything they need—ideas, capital, design, software—to grow their company.
We live in a hyper-connected world of three billion, growing to seven billion+. Around the world, cognitive surplus can help you build your products, services and drive innovation, regardless of the size of your company.
As Bill Joy, cofounder of SUN once said, “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.”
With current technology, people can work from anywhere in the world at any time, and large corporations can tap into this global knowledge base to improve their systems.
Perhaps one of the most powerful aspects of the crowd is its ability to provide you with capital—either in the form of equity or advanced market commitments. Crowdfunding has grown into an opportunity worth multi-tens-of-billions of dollars, providing more capital to today’s startup game than any time ever in human history.
Access to startup capital is no longer scarce.
There are proven ways to run a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign; for exponential entrepreneurs, these capabilities are second nature.
Finally, you have the opportunity to create incentive competitions through platforms such as HeroX.com that allow you to crowdsource technologies, designs, solutions… whatever you want. This is an important tool in your tool chest.
All you need to know is exactly what you want—if you do, most times, the crowd can do the rest.
6. You Launch Your Vision, Experiment and Disrupt Yourself
Exponential entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life.
These entrepreneurs understand the importance of action, rapid iteration and experimentation. They follow Reid Hoffman’s philosophy: “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
As such, exponential entrepreneurs understand the importance and means for rapid experimentation and iteration. They push tirelessly to reinvent and disrupt themselves.
They drive idea exchange and create a culture of idea interaction capable of fostering creative solutions to previously unsolvable problems.
They understand where, when, why and how breakthroughs happen inside of the communities they create.
They know how to constantly keep their companies, ideas and processes focused on the future, moving forward, and leveraging the latest exponential growth techniques in the pursuit of even bigger goals.