What the World Needs Is More Moonshot Entrepreneurs

To conquer the world's great challenges, we first need to restore our lost sense of wonder.

learn more about Naveen Jain

By Naveen Jain

John Davis/Stocktrek Images | Getty Images

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Our world today is dominated by the economics of scarcity and its ever-complicit offspring: mindsets that are as self-limiting as they are self-fulfilling. These well-disposed co-conspirators work hand in glove to perpetuate much of what's wrong in the world -- and the global anxiety that invariably attends it. Centuries of history have shown us that they will never move humanity into a future of abundance, let alone acknowledge its possibility. If our civilization is to survive and flourish, we'll need fundamental, wholesale changes to the way we think and operate.

Related: The 100 Most Brilliant Business Ideas

I have been brainstorming a bold way forward -- a path to abundance and prosperity that is informed and shaped by the powerful secrets of the entrepreneurial mindset. When the uniquely human attributes of curiosity and imagination are harnessed to the engine of exponential innovation, we become empowered to create a future without limits. But, as we see daily, the established orders -- and the powerbases that sustain them -- are arrayed against the rich and prosperous future we so vividly envision. It will take something truly extraordinary to overcome this resistance -- and that something is you

To conquer the world's great challenges, we first need to restore our lost sense of wonder, to reclaim a mindset driven by possibility thinking, imagination, curiosity and, most importantly, the courage to ask big, daring "what if" questions -- even crazy questions. Why not dare to dream an amazing, abundant and prosperous future? This is, after all, what moonshots are all about!

Moonshots occupy a precarious territory between possibility and science fiction. That's what makes them rare and special: driven by curiosity, imagination and vision, they set out to massively transform the status quo. They aim to achieve something that is an order of magnitude greater than what exists today. A moonshot is not something that is merely 10 percent better, 10 percent faster or 10 percent cheaper. Moonshots fundamentally redefine what is actually possible in a given space. They always sound crazy because they aren't an obvious extrapolation of what's happening today. This is precisely why they play to the entrepreneur's advantage.

When people tell you that your ideas are crazy -- and they should, if you're on the right track -- remember that what's actually crazy is short-sighted incrementalism and linear approaches to problems of exponential proportions -- and believing they'll make any difference at all.

Related: 5 Habits That Made Elon Musk an Innovator

To this end, bold "what if" questions constitute the most compelling force on Earth. Everything hinges on our being audacious enough to ask them. These questions are far more consequential than the answers because they are the key to unlocking them. I believe that everything works backward. The same is true of questions. For example, we don't create answers; we reveal them when we discover the right questions. And we perpetually question our way forward.

The first question is, will you dare to be one of those who asks these all-important, audacious and world-transforming questions? And if not you, then who? It has become obvious that we can't count on the experts, governments, corporations or institutions to ask them; they are invested in the status quo and in the preservation of their respective strongholds. When entrepreneurs ask these grand questions, the energy that is released in the process is never lost in heat. Rather, that energy transforms the asker into a superpower: It enables the emboldened questioner to act upon the revealed answers. The results are nothing less than astonishing.

Consequently, the nation-states are going to increasingly lose power to influence where the world is headed. Because entrepreneurs have stepped up, entrepreneurs are going to take the lead. This is why the next set of superpowers will be held by entrepreneurs -- entrepreneurs who are not waiting on others to solve problems or address the things that they care about. They'll do it in ways that rock the very foundations of the scarcity-driven economy. This means they won't do it through sustainability, which only reinforces the value of scarce resources. But, an even bigger problem on sustainability's horizon is that sustainability is actually not sustainable! Sustainability won't help us in a world where we have to create more of what we need rather than consume less of what we have. Creating that world will take nothing less than moonshot thinking. Moreover, until one begins to understand the actual sequences of consumption cycles, we are constantly only solving the symptoms of problems, never the root causes. Only entrepreneurs can solve this conundrum. When they do, these same entrepreneurs will shine a light into the darkness, illuminate a vision and inspire a dream of a better future for everyone.

Related: Want to Disrupt an Entire Industry? Here Are 3 Tips From the Future.

Only when the rise of an entirely new class of entrepreneurs -- moonshot entrepreneurs -- meet technology that is advancing on an exponential scale, can we move past the impending bankruptcy of an unsustainable scarcity-driven economy. This will be a paradigm shift unprecedented in human history. It will upend every notion we have about our civilization: how we live, where we live, how we work, how we get around, how we interact and even what we are. All of these outcomes will be realized by the ushering in of a previously unknown kind of economy -- an economy of abundance.

Lastly, while moonshots might be hard, they can be easier to accomplish than less ambitious initiatives. Challenges will rise up to meet you on your way. Remember along this journey that true entrepreneurs never fail -- they pivot! Oftentimes, success is found on the very far, dark side of what only appears to be failure. How you deal with setbacks and difficulties may actually be the primary determinant of your ultimate success.

Now is the time for you to launch your own moonshot. As you do, I hope you'll keep these insights top of mind because if you do, I have no doubt that you'll achieve great success.

In the end, the key to the successful moonshot is an openness to radical possibility -- the first and most vital step in awakening the virtually unlimited capacity of the human mind and its astounding potential to remake our world. You can play a vital and indispensable role in bringing that world about.

Naveen Jain

Founder and CEO at Viome

Naveen Jain is an entrepreneur and philanthropist driven to solve the world's biggest challenges through innovation through taking his own moonshots. Jain sees beyond the current business and technological landscape, creating companies that make a true impact.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Thought Leaders

The Collapse of Credit Suisse: A Cautionary Tale of Resistance to Hybrid Work

This cautionary tale serves as a reminder for business leaders to adapt to the changing world of work and prioritize their workforce's needs and preferences.


6 Myths About Leadership That May Be Holding You Back

By dispelling these leadership myths, we can create a more realistic and nuanced understanding of what it means to be an effective leader.


3 Ways for Women Tech Founders to Secure Funding

New research identifies strategies to help women access the startup capital they need to grow.


7 Ways Dating Apps Are Lying To You

When people are reduced to a profile picture and bio, it's easy to forget that they are real human beings with complex emotions and experiences.


I Advise the Real-Life 'Logan Roys' of the World. Here's Where the 'Succession' CEO Went Wrong.

Based on my experience working with and counseling the real-life Logan Roys of the world, here are five lessons the Roy family could benefit from learning.