How Can Entrepreneurs Pick the Next Big Thing?

How can you spot the next big thing?How can you spot the next big thing?

How do you pick the right people to help you expand, both personally and professionally?  How do you advise the people close to you why you think they should get more involved in the next big thing?

I’ve made my life riding the waves with many of the world’s most interesting entrepreneurs and leaders. When I was invited to speak for my client s and their partners to share my thinking about the future and what it held for these leaders, I was always asked: How do you find the next big thing so many times?

The next big thing always sends waves of excitement through my financial partners. They just love to get in on an organization before it becomes known. I’ve always felt that for many, it’s the thrill of the hunt that drives their investments. Knowing that one of your investments becomes the next Facebook, Spanx, or Theranos can get your blood pumping like few other events in your life that you can share with others.

I find my best picks have come from being able to assess and evaluate people and ideas quickly.  I bet you’re disappointed with that answer. I know I was when it was given to me at 18 as a birthday gift from one of my earliest mentors. He was a self-made multimillionaire entrepreneur who enjoyed studying anthropology and science more than business and finance.

When I met him, he had a net worth of well over 100 million dollars in 1979. That was a lot of money at the time. It’s still a lot of money! He was willing to share his unusual perspectives with anyone who would listen to him for three straight hours and ask questions about his life philosophy.  That and challenge his thinking to help him increase his own knowledge of human nature. Here are some of the rules I learned from him on finding the next big thing.

The first rule of finding the next big thing is you must be willing to listen to people who have a wide range of life experiences. Successful creators of big ideas are educated in a number of disciplines and good at making the complex simple. Many of my best clients have come to business after other successful careers. They are free spirits and unconventional thinkers.

The second rule of finding the next big thing is the creators are not linear thinkers. They see life as a game where those who understand leverage can create things that others may have seen, but not acted upon. They look for opportunities to do multiple things concurrently to seize future opportunities faster than thought possible by others in their fields of expertise.

The third rule of finding the next best thing is it must support a basic human need, fear, or desire. These individuals are very good at understanding human nature and then creating products and services that expand their customer’s view of the world, but not by more than 10%. My mentor told me that people hate change.  If I wanted to pick the best next thing, I must look for ideas that combine the familiar with a small part of the unknown.

The fourth rule of finding the next big thing is that these innovators are audacious with their view of the world. When I travel for conferences I can always tell the entrepreneur who is creating the next big thing by the crowd they have at their presentations and booths. Love them or hate them, they’re people magnets and they play to a much bigger crowd than their contemporaries.

The final rule of finding the next big thing is the creators hang around with other people who want to change the world. They find ways to create value in ongoing relationships with other talented people and organizations. They are great at collaboration, whether it’s inside or outside their organizations. I’m always surprised how large these people’s networks are.  I’ve walked into meetings with clients from halfway across the world to discover we have a friend in common. Not just a friend, but someone in their inner circle who provides an instant foundation for the work we’re doing. It’s almost magical.

Now that we know what the common traits for these entrepreneurs are, what’s next? I thought it might be interesting to share with you over the next several months people you’re going to want to get to know if you want to take your career and life to the next level. I share more later this week and then a couple a times a month, I will introduce you to the people who are going to be involved in creating the next big thing. See you Thursday.

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