Just Make It

As I prepare to make my way to Maker Faire, Bay Area 2014 on May 17th & 18th where over 100,000 makers, tinkerers, hobbyists, DIYers and enthusiasts will congregate to learn, observe, engage, demonstrate and celebrate the art of making, I wonder how many of you have an idea for the next great thing?

What’s stopping you from realizing it? If you’re waiting for permission, then you might as well permit someone else to create it, market it, and succeed with it, while you watch from the sidelines.

Welcome to the age of permission-less innovation.

With barriers to entry significantly diminished, massive resources no longer required to develop new products and services, and a virtual universe of experts to tap into, the playing field has been leveled. For the first time, the smaller players not only have a shot at success, but their nimbleness often puts the odds in their favor. If anyone anywhere can build just about anything, without anyone else’s permission, why shouldn’t it be you?

If you need inspiration, take a look at Joi Ito. He’s the director of the MIT Media Lab. But when he was starting out he built the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Japan. The funny thing was that he ran it from a closet in his bathroom.

Alexis Ohanian is the perfect example of dorm-room genius. He founded Reddit and sold it a few years later for millions of dollars. Neither Joi, nor Alexis nor thousands of others out there learning how to make, as Alexis says, “the world suck less,” needed the permission of any major organization. So while big companies took baby steps, they got up and running. Joi’s and Alexis’s innovations were largely digital plays, but as manufacturing joins the Internet more makers are turning the tables, without anyone else’s permission, and disrupting the status quo.

While big organizations perfect their strategic plans, building ever more impressive presentations based on past performance that are often slow to market, smaller more agile players are out there making things. What does it take to “just make it” and become a market maker?

1. Identify a problem.

The odds are good that if you’re frustrated with a product or service, so, too, are other folks. In other words, there’s likely a market for your innovation.

2. Quickly develop a solution

– even if it’s half-baked – that you test with real customers who may initially be friends and family. The purpose is to get their feedback as part of the process when you are not too deeply invested in time or money to course correct. Creating a prototype of your solution that can be easily tweaked and re-shaped is often a smart tactic.

3. Iterate. Iterate. Iterate.

Consider yourself in a constant state of beta and continuously improve your innovation as you go to market based on customer feedback.

4. Partner – it’s often hard to go it alone.

Who out there who you may not even know – a viral network, community, open source opportunity – can help you reach your goal?

5. Fail (but quickly).

If you’re not encountering the speed bumps along your journey, you’re likely not pressing the envelope hard enough. I’ve often said that success is more about attitude than aptitude.

6. Lastly, always remember that perfection is the enemy of innovation.

Got something interesting you’re making? … tweet #JustMakeIt @PeterGuber

Photo: Farm drones, Chris Anderson — by Mark Madeo

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