I can't leave my (corporate) job, can I?
But what if you did?
But I've been there 25 years.
But you've never really enjoyed it and always felt like a square peg in a round hole.
But I'm well known and respected here.
But you're not like other people here.
But I'm good at what I do.
But it's not meaningful or fulfilling for you.
And what about the mortgage and family to support.
But you've always wanted to run your own business.
What do you know about running a business?
You'll regret it if you never try.
But it's too risky.
But what if you did? What if…?
This is the conversation I had with myself over and over for a few (too many!) years before eventually leaving my well paid, comfortable, guaranteed monthly pay check, corporate job. That question; ‘What if...?’ was the constant nagging motivation that gradually built up enough curiosity for me to jack it all in.
And it was that question - What if? - that led to my business idea that eventually became New Kings Coffee. Well, actually it first started with a why? Why isn't there a coffee selection box next to the luxury tea selection box at this hotel/conference/office I'm at? Why don't coffee bags exist? And then, What if? What if I created a coffee selection box using coffee bags? I remember the exact moment I asked that question. I was on a flight returning from another boring corporate conference, drinking a cup of coffee. My mind immediately went into overdrive. What if I could provide coffees from across the world? What if each coffee had a different strength, taste and aroma? What if you could choose what coffee you actually wanted at that moment? What if you tried a new coffee you'd never tried before and actually loved it? What if, what if, what if…?
And so, that was the start. The start of an idea, the start of a business, the start of a journey that leads to today and who knows where next.
And I’m not alone. “What if?” has been the catalyst for lots of the world’s great inventions. Like:
"What if my car windshield could blink?" Mary Anderson, inventor of the first windshield wiper in 1902; "What if computers can do more than compute?" Conway-Berners Lee (British Mathematician) and his son Tim Berners-Lee who proposed the global hypertext project to be known at the World Wide Web; or "What if local communities could have the means to create their own sources of water?" Led to Water.org’s ‘Water Credit’ which makes small loans available to people who can develop or acquire their own water sources.
Now I’m not saying that New Kings Coffee is going to be the next Uber or Apple (although I’ve got some pretty ambitious plans!) but it occurs to me that asking “what if” leads to some pretty innovative and disrupting ideas.
My conversation with myself now is much shorter and consists of just two questions:
1) Why doesn't X exist or work better
2) What if you created it, made it happen, made it better?
Ok, let's try.
What are your #bigwhatifs and have you ever had a real go at answering them? I’d love to hear your journey…
Jason Nichols, Founder, New Kings Coffee