One of the ways I like to think about business ideas is in the context of what can we do today that we couldn’t have done 10 years ago. As an example, when we started Pardot in early 2007, we could build a web application quickly using open source software, run it on commodity web hosting, and deliver B2B marketing automation with analytics, campaign execution, and insights in a cost effective manner to SMB customers. 10 years prior it would have been 100x more to build it, 100x more to host it, and the market wasn’t ready for it (being too earlier is still a failure).
Here are a few things to think about when considering ideas that weren’t possible 10 years ago:
- What new ideas are possible because we have a super computer in our pocket (e.g. iPhones didn’t even exist 10 years ago)?
- How can we use cloud computing and big data tools like Hadoop to unlock insights we never knew about before?
- How do advances in technology in one industry help another one (e.g. GPU advancements helping self-driving cars, cell phone miniaturization helping a number of other devices, etc.)?
- What ideas were good before but the timing wasn’t right (e.g. limited broadband penetration, GPS adoption, independent contractor availability, etc.)?
The next time you’re considering a business idea, ask the question why wasn’t this done 10 years ago and see what you come up with. Some ideas weren’t even possible and some ideas were just before their time.
What else? What are some more thoughts on thinking about business ideas in the context of what wasn’t possible 10 years ago?