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Some of the largest companies in the world did not exist a few decades ago. Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are only a few of the organizations with massive market share, Microsoft and Apple with humble beginnings in the 1970s and Amazon gaining life in the 1990s. Each is a leader in their industry. It is hard to imagine the world without the retailing genius of Jeff Bezos. The way we shop, work, play, invest, read, and think have all been radically altered in the last few years by companies with vision. And a secret weapon to put them in front and keep them there.
Intel may not have been the first, but they were the first company I heard preach it. Andy Grove had an idea so radical it was insane, insane enough that it might work. The secret was to create products and services that turn your current products obsolete before your competitors do it for you. Insane! Create a business to put your current business out of business. Business is tough enough as it is without doing the work of your competitors for them. But think of it for a moment. Amazon keeps reinventing itself at an ever increasing rate. Fast shipping is not good enough. Never satisfied, Amazon uses every method possible to ship cheaper and faster. Competitors never have a chance. Amazon reinvents itself so often the competition is not across town, but in-house.
What is Good for Business Is Better for You
Business is not the only place a new paradigm is taking shape. Individuals now face the same stiff competition to survive. Education is radically different from only a decade ago. Online courses, YouTube videos, and accelerated degree colleges are more important than ever. As an employer I am less interested in what you know now than in how fast you can change with the business climate. The most educated person in the room is hopelessly outdated in a few years. Think how your life is different today from only five years ago. Change in business is even faster. Your intelligence is only worth something if you continually stretch it. I don’t have time for you to go back to college to catch up on the latest advancements. Now we need to watch a few training videos or attend several days of intensive, focused training and be ready to perform.
Even current training is not enough. As you train you need to think of ideas to destroy your business. It sounds nuts, but if you don’t, someone else will! You need to self-disrupt every facet of your life and career. Those that self-disrupt are the leaders of tomorrow; the managers earning extraordinary incomes; investors reaping the bulk of market gains. Our world continues to accelerate. There is no time to build on top of old business models slowly. Expanding your retail store to a new city or making incremental improvements to your old structure only allows Amazon to come along and blow you off the road. All the major retailers had the advantage, but only Amazon made it happen. Now Amazon is the leader. Remember when Sears and Kmart were retailing leader? Montgomery Ward? Wal-Mart might want to stop looking in the rearview mirror. The retailing industry is out front, changing in ways Wal-Mart changed retailing only a few decades prior.
Stodgy, old-school industries like accounting are rapidly changing, too. My humble accounting office started with a simple goal: prepare taxes seasonally. I killed the competition because I offered free electronic filing. Remember those days? Back around 1990 electronic filing was expensive, around $25, if it was available at all. I offered it to clients for free. Try starting a tax office and using free e-filing as your shtick. What I did 25 years ago to crush my competitors is not even an option today. I reinvented my firm again as a full-service accounting practice. I trained employees to run a boutique tax hub. It worked, but I hated the structure so I created a new model that would again, destroy the old.
Today, once again, my tax office is under radical change. This year several percentage points of profit will come from people preparing their own tax returns online. In five years DIY tax preparation could add more to the bottom line than in-house preparation. Training and education is the fastest growing segment of the firm. This blog is one piece of that process. Already, after only five months, this blog is generating a small revenue stream and growing fast. Two additional blogs started a few years back now generate over 4 million views per year. This blog would be a self-sustaining stand alone business with that kind of traffic.
Crush Your Old Worldview
The way we live our personal lives is also changing fast. Consider how cell phones and social media dominate your life. It was not long ago when you called your stock broker to buy stock or and salesman to invest in a mutual fund. Today it is all a few clicks online. Index funds are relatively new in the investing world and changed the risks structure of your retirement planning.
Early retirement was rare in the past. Now a large number of people are retiring younger than ever with plenty financial resources to enjoy the remainder of their life. Financial independence is easier than ever. Bad advice and awful spending habits are the problem. Business owners and employees work a job to fill their day and find purpose; money was not an issue for these people long ago. The way you live retirement in 10 years will be different from today. Technology and innovative companies will make life even more luxurious than today and cheaper. Personal finance bloggers like Mr. Money Mustache are part of the rapidly changing paradigm in investing, retirement, and financial independence. Even the meaning of retirement has changed. What we call retirement is radically different from what grandpa did.
Like business owners, you need to reinvent and self-disrupt your worldview. Our society is in for radical changes over the next decade. Self driving cars, electric vehicles, and self charging electric vehicles will become common. What happens when Tesla mass produces Power Walls? Our utility bills, the way we consume electricity—or any form of energy—will change fundamentally. In 20 years almost everyone could be off the grid (you buy a solar/wind or other energy harvester and dump it into a Power Wall for future use). Once you pay off the investment in equipment your cost of energy will approach zero. The best news is equipment prices are dropping fast while efficiency is improving. I predict batteries will pack energy more compactly than fossil fuels in less than two decades, probably within a decade. Our world will change whether you like it or not.
All this change can cause anxiety. It should not. We can stop and enjoy life like never before. Technology can be used to solve the world’s most perplexing issues, including climate change. Humankind is approaching the singularity and it will be a utopia. Don’t fight it. Self-disrupt your business, job, investments, and personal life. Re-invent who you are. As a species we are evolving like never before. The metamorphosis is orgasmic.