Thoughts on entrepreneurship, technology, innovation, startups, small business, manufacturing, engineering, & 3D Printing
Filtering by Tag: Design Thinking
4:45am the sound of the slow rise ring tone on my iPhone prompts me to crawl out of the bed. The first few steps every morning are painful (plantar faciitis from my collegiate basketball career) and I have to quickly make six of them to get to my phone. I rush to turn off my alarm, and avoid waking up my wife and two year old son who has made it abundantly clear that this is his bed. I tip toe down the hall past my daughter asleep in her bedroom (where my son "should" be sleep) to the bathroom, brush my teeth and head downstairs. After I drink two glasses of ice cold water (helps stimulate brain functions & increase metabolism) and begin brewing my coffee. I open up Joseph Campbell's "Hero With A Thousand Faces" which helps me put my journey and life into perspective. At about 6am I change gears and read Foundr or entrepreneur magazine, then, suddenly, a hurricane of noise (my two toddlers) makes it's way downstairs. That's my cue to head up and begin tackling my daily list of tasks. It's 6:30am, 7am at the latest and I am ready to go!
This is the grind. The grind I started in April of 2013 and continues to grow. I am a morning person and feel I'm more productive first thing, but let me tell you another reason why every day I choose to get up before the average person. This all started because I was working for a company and felt like I hit the ceiling. No upward mobility, stagnation, but more than anything I just felt like I had a higher calling. You see I had been working in the engineering and manufacturing industry for over 7 years and along the way I made a lot of really good friends. I am an extrovert and most engineers I know are introverts, but I became close with many of the people I worked with. When the economy took a turn for the worse in 2008 many companies started sending engineering and manufacturing jobs to China and Mexico, because it was drastically cheaper. I witnessed first hand what this did to local economies and unfortunately seen a lot of friends and people I had worked with lose their jobs.
Then, something started happening. These same engineers who were out of a job and feeling a sense of desperation, started doing contract work. They were living contract to contract, day to day, and barely getting by. A few months went by and I checked in with several of them to see how things were going, and if I can help in any way. To my surprise, they were happier then ever. No more punching the clock, no more meaningless meetings, just their passion, which was to design and engineer amazing products. Six more months go by and these same people who were desperate a little less than a year ago are now picking and choosing which contracts they work on and are hiring staff. This inspired me to take action and begin to make certain sacrifices, so I can have this same feeling, and and help others in the process.
In April of 2013 I started a consulting company and what we did was help contract engineers find work. According to HBR 75% of freelance work still comes via word of mouth and considering engineers aren't what I would call "social butterflies" I figured I would have a market / problem to solve. They have the skills necessary to create amazing products, but lacked the business development experience to find consistent and sustainable work. So I embarked on this entrepreneurial journey, which at the heart of it, was helping people chase the dream we all have, being our own bosses. I still had a full time job, but I figured out a schedule that allow me to get started, and help me grow my business:
- 5am-7:15am work on my business
- 8am-5pm work as an employee
- 5:30pm-7:30pm family time
- 8pm-10pm my business
- In bed by 11pm
My schedule gave me four hours a day to focus on building a sustainable business, but the greatest benefit was discovering the pain engineering contractors faced not only with finding the work, but collaborating with companies in real time. This prompted me to create my current startup (Assist 2 Develop) which aims to solve these problems.
We are set to release our beta version in a few short weeks and you can find out more in the link below:
So the reason I still wake up at the crack of dawn every morning is to continue to help others free themselves of the corporate shackles, and live life on their terms. The best advice I can give anyone who feels like they want more out of life is START NOW! Even if you only take baby steps. Anyone can start with an hour a day, then when it makes sense, make it two hours, and then four. Next thing you know you've sustained enough business to cut down to part time at your job, or even quit all together, and that my friends is a great start to your journey.
Managing complexity is one of the greatest opportunities of our time. Design thinking can create clarity and understanding of this complexity, and fuel innovation. But you have to be willing to go out, find great ideas, try new things, and sometimes, fall flat on your face. Design is a tool to create something new, not just improve on an existing model. Albert Einstein hits the nail right on the head when he stated "We cannot solve a problem with the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." Design thinking requires you to think and act like an entrepreneur by finding a need in the market and creating a product to satisfy that need. This type of thinking requires you to translate a need or desire of the customer into a business proposition, then turn the proposition into a product / service for the customer.
According to Nine Sigma 80% of big companies plan to increase innovation budgets in 2015 http://www.ninesigma.com/blog/bloinc/2014/12/the-results-are-in-findings-from-a-new-survey-on-innovation and the designers / engineers / innovators that embed design thinking into their practice will be the ones to capitalize on this opportunity. To truly innovate you have to create a hypothesis based on what you see, not just customer feedback, because sometimes customers don't know what they want. Henry Ford said it best: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” [Henry Ford]
For a more detailed, but simple explanation of design thinking check out the video below: