Rule #3 – Good news! Your great idea probably stinks

Face it, your idea is probably not that amazing. I’m being serious. Chances are that no matter what idea you have for a product or website or business, it’s not all that amazing in the grand scheme of things and is likely to be equally un-amazing to the huddled masses upon which you will stake your idea’s future. Even worse, there are likely no fewer then 1,000 other people on earth who’ve had the same idea and at least 3 of them are working hard to get it built/deployed/sold right now. Furthermore, the world has gotten along just fine for hundreds of years without you entering the fray with your idea, and it’s likely to get along just fine if you decide to continue sitting on the sidelines.

Don’t despair. This is good news. Heck, it’s GREAT news! Why is it a good thing that your idea isn’t all that great? Because your idea will have very little to do with the eventual success or failure of your venture. In fact, it will have so little to do with the eventual outcome that I’d be willing to bet when it all shakes out, you’ll find that your venture’s biggest assett has nothing to do with the great idea currently residing in your head.

If you haven’t read 37 Signals book “Get Real,” you should do so without delay. They’ve even been nice enough to provide a free version Here. One of the most interesting points comes as they quote Derek Sivers, president and programmer of CDBaby and HostBaby. Sivers breaks down the value of an idea by multiplying it by what I think is a much more important piece of the equation: execution.

Sivers equation:

  • Awful idea = -1
  • Weak idea = 1
  • So-so idea = 5
  • Good idea = 10
  • Great idea = 15
  • Brilliant idea = 20
  • _____________________
  • No execution = $1
  • Weak execution = $1000
  • So-so execution = $10,000
  • Good execution = $100,000
  • Great execution = $1,000,000
  • Brilliant execution = $10,000,000

Multiply one with the other and you can figure out how someone (including you) could calculate the value of your venture. It’s no accident that the values tied to Execution are significantly higher then the values tied to the idea. Execution is that much more important.

For example, Michael Dell didn’t invent the PC (the idea). He simply streamlined the production of PCs exactly like everyone else was making by tightening up logistics and his supply chain (the execution). Result: one of the top computer manufacturers on earth, oodles of money in the bank. Google didn’t create search nor did they create pay-per-click advertising (the ideas). They simply found a way to make the concept of looking for and finding information on the internet easier and found a way to target advertising so it would better catch the attention of customers (the execution).

The examples are near endless. Why do you think there are so many car dealerships on earth? How are there so many auto-parts stores and liquor stores and coffee shops? Looking at it in mere numbers, countless businesses and industries out there have saturated the market….yet they still stay in business and prosper. How can so many companies prosper from the same idea? Execution.

The difference between success or failure (no matter how you define it) is going to come down to how well you execute your idea. That will include constructing it, protecting it via patents and copyrights and whatnot, marketing it to potential customers or clients, utilizing your resources in the right places, seeking out competitive advantages, remaining unphased when competition comes to the market, responsibly controlling your cashflow, and on and on and on.

Proper execution could create a market for ice-machines in Alaska. Proper execution is why 2 out of 3 Microsoft employees use Google instead of their own company’s MSN Live Search. Proper execution is why the Jets “upset” the Colts in the 1969 AFL/NFL Championship game. So take out a big fat magic marker and write it in huge block letters somewhere nearby so you can be reminded every day: “It’s all about EXECUTION.”

As I said earlier, your great idea probably stinks. But the good news is, that isn’t going to matter in the slightest.

2 Responses

  1. Awesome post. I have been reading your postings over and over, and its really helping me harden my ideas before I start implementing them. Keep up the great work…I can see this blog really taking off!!!

  2. Hi CJ,

    Thanks for stopping by. Glad I can be of some help.

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