Living in the Future
One of my defining memories is reading CK Prahalad and Gary Hamel’s book, “Competing for the Future,” when it was published in 1994. That was a very difficult time for me. I had failed multiple times in various ventures that I had tried over the past two-and-a-half years. The realisation had dawned on me that my most recent foray into creating an image processing solution was headed the same way and had to be shut down. I was staring at an abyss.
It was at that time that I picked up the Prahalad-Hamel book and started reading it. The book transformed me. I made notes on Post-Its through the book – these notes became the eventual business plan for IndiaWorld. There is one particular passage that struck a chord and has stayed with me through the years:
There is not one future but hundreds. There is no law that says most companies must be followers. Getting to the future first is not just about outrunning competitors bent on reaching the same prize. It is also about having one’s own view of what the prize is. There can be as many prizes as runners; imagination is the only limiting factor. Renoir, Picasso, Calder, Serat, and Chagall were all enormously successful artists, but each had an original and distinctive style. In no way did the success of one preordain the failure of another. Yet each artist spawned a host of imitators. In business, as in art, what distinguishes leaders from laggards, and greatness from mediocrity, is the ability to uniquely imagine what could be.
To build a proficorn, an entrepreneur must imagine the future and get there first. One is not building just for the next few months – one has to imagine tomorrow’s world and create that future. If you get there first, you win. This journey is what makes entrepreneurship so exciting. It is a race – where there are many competitors, known and unknown. But there is a second race – in the entrepreneur’s mind, to create and craft a future that isn’t yet unknown. The entrepreneur then also has to persuade others (employees, partners and customers) about that future. It is the ultimate reality game!
Even now, as I sit at home, I am trying to imagine the new future – one where every offline business needs an online business, where hundreds and thousands of new online-only brands will get created. All of them will need help with their customer relationships – identifying their best customers and ensuring they reach their full spending threshold. What kind of tech solutions will they need? How can I as an entrepreneur fill this gap? The future beckons, and that’s where proficorn entrepreneurs live.
Tomorrow: My Proficorn Way (Part 5)