The world of business now moves faster than ever, technology that used to change or adapt in a matter of years or even decades, now changes in months or even weeks. Top-tier CEOs have to be able to see what is coming and at times predict it before it’s here.
The Technology and businesses that exist today, were not even real 5 years ago. With that thought in mind I asked ten highly successful CEOs where they see the biggest opportunities coming now and what they saw as stopping entrepreneurs from reaching them. Some on the responses surprised me, but let’s face it: the CEOs mentioned have the future vision to establish them on the highest echelon.
“The internet lets everyone sell to anyone. It’s a game changer if you think about it. When I was 25 I didn’t have Facebook or YouTube to reach people. I had a phone (not cordless) and a car. My market was limited to my surrounding area in my small town of Louisiana. Now I can market to someone in India, Hong Kong and London all at the same time from my now, cordless phone. To say it’s opportunity is an understatement.”
Even with that much opportunity available, Cardone does see a stop for many:
“Almost always entrepreneurs fail to take enough action. ‘Normal’ levels of action will never be enough. Even if you’re getting by at present with normal levels of action, it won’t be enough over time. At some point, you need to have more activity for more production. I take massive action in my businesses because I know that’s what it takes to succeed. That’s what 10X is all about.”
“I think one of the biggest future opportunities for entrepreneurs right now is interactive marketing. In order to get noticed by consumers in an increasingly competitive landscape, you have to stand above the crowd. It’s becoming more and more important for businesses to shift away from traditional marketing and move towards marketing that engages the consumer.
Entrepreneurs need to create marketing tactics that are fun for consumers to be a part of! Instead of annoying customers with sales tactics, earn their attention (and money!). I really believe interactive marketing will play a key role in any entrepreneur’s success in the coming years.”
“The biggest opportunity is also the biggest failure: failure to recognize the abundant canvases there are for adding value to others. The many social channels, the many publishing platforms, the many ‘spaces’ for live performances. These are all ‘blank canvases’ and those who are brave and visionary enough to apply their personal paint and brushes to those canvases will win the day.”
With all those blank canvases, Brier also sees issues with how brands perform on those social channels:
“They’re too focused on followers, on likes, on ‘who can help them’ since their outlook is so short-term. It’s a close cousin to those who feel ‘entitled’ and the fact is, none of us are entitled to crap. We’re entitled to what value we add to life, to others, to the way things are. If I leave things no better than the way they were when I arrived, then I have failed and am entitled to nothing.”
“The most successful entrepreneurs in history have pushed the envelope and gone against the grain, but what you see a lot in modern entrepreneurship is what I call ‘copycat entrepreneurs.’ Instead of thinking for themselves and creating something that they truly believe in they are too quick to get distracted with dollar signs, and follow other entrepreneurs into various industries and businesses.
While there’s nothing wrong with analyzing competition and going into something if it makes sense and you truly believe in it, I see far too many people doing it ‘just because.’ And if you think about it long term, the person that is fiercely passionate about a certain business or niche is going to push a lot further and harder than someone that is purely doing it for the money.
Elon is not going to get to people living on other planets without deep fascination and passion for doing so and space exploration in general. Someone else copying it as a business idea because a famous entrepreneur like Elon is doing it, does not always makes sense, and can just be a distraction from what you are passionate about.”
“We can leverage exciting new technologies for social good – BlockChain, robotics, artificial intelligence, VR/AR, 3D printing and quantum computing,” Melinda says, “and fuse these with evolved enterprise business models and spiritually-conscious and collaborative approaches.”
Melinda, who has grown 4 successful businesses and the intersection of content, connection and conversation leveraging social networking, big data and now AI, says:
“Magic happens at the intersection of art and science, data and intuition, play and philanthropy, engineering and design thinking – and there are opportunities for moonshots, so I encourage all entrepreneurs to think big about problems we can solve through collaborative and multidisciplinary approaches and flow consciousness.”
“The future opportunity is that we basically have direct access to any person in the world. Technology has allowed us to reach out to top leaders in business and even connect with them. Direct access to connections, mentors, investors, talent and more. There are zero excuses if you’re not afraid to put in the work.”
Even with more access to opportunities and talent, Adams sees many entrepreneurs lacking vision for the future:
“Entrepreneurs are too focused on short term success and comparing themselves to the super flashy ‘successful’ people. The best things in life take time, building an empire and impacting people is obviously not an exception. Put your head down, and get ready for the long term game.”
“Artificial intelligence.” In a previous interview with CNBC, Cuban stated: “I am telling you, the world’s first trillionaires are going to come from somebody who masters AI and all its derivatives and applies it in ways we never thought of.”
At SXSW, Cuban further explained: “We are going through the process where software will automate software, automation will automate automation.”
As for what stops many entrepreneurs from reaching the right opportunity, Cuban believes the issue is pretty simple:
“They don’t try to create cash flow.”
“The next frontier for Entrepreneurs will be subscription models that will change what we do everyday. Leasing cars will be a thing of the past as you’ll either get an Uber subscription or budding Entrepreneur will hone the pay as you go car model. Also instead of child care, i see Elder Care heating up as Baby Boomers are getting older and may not want to live their children or in a nursing home.
Lastly aesthetic and hair care will also adopt a Subscription Model as people will be comfortable paying a subscription in order to get member benefits for services they get on a weekly or monthly basis. The next group will find a way to reduce large costs and supply a subscription to make things easier and less expensive.”
“There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. The costs and friction associated with launching a business have never been lower, and the global opportunity has never been greater. We are coming to the end of the ‘Information Age’ and entering the ‘Cognitive Age”.
The next 100 years will see artificial intelligence permeate everything–from refrigerators and automobiles, to the battlefield and our own bodies. The good news is, you don’t have to be a mad-genius data-scientist to take part. There will be an entire ecosystem around, yes, the software and hardware, but also training, reselling, educating…the opportunities are endless.”
“Building audiences and communities. It’s hard as hell, but when you are able to do this well, other businesses will be coming to you (rather than the other way around).”
Value can be one of the toughest parts of building community and audiences. About that Keren says:
“I see most entrepreneurs struggling to realize where they provide the company with the most value. It’s so easy to get in the trenches and work on granular things rather than hire the right people to run departments so you can focus on staying 2 steps ahead, and continuing to grow the business.”
The interesting part about posing this question to top CEOs, was that many of them were in similar veins of thought, leaning towards AI, interactive technology and more social platforms.
While time will only tell where the best future investments will be, CEOs must be willing to take risks in order to blaze a new trail there.