contrarian thought – ideas are (almost) everything

the more i’ve done in my career, the more i’ve come to believe that it’s more important to come up with a unique, great idea than it is to choose a thing blindly and execute at an A+ level. that may work for agencies, sure, but not startups.

personally, had we started Kettle & Fire just 18 months later, our journey to an 8 figure company would have happened far more slowly. even given the same level of execution, we’d have missed out on some key partners who are excited by what we’re doing, and just had a MUCH harder journey ahead of us. so far, it appears that Kettle & Fire was a great idea, and came into the world at the perfect time.

i now find myself advising other entrepreneurs to spend more time testing and figuring out a good idea than i do recommending that they just go with something small and start executing.

there’s a common idea in startup world – that ideas are everything. you can have the best idea in the world, but unless you have great execution.. it doesn’t matter.

execution is everything – not the idea.

Image result for derek sivers ideas

i’ve now come to believe this is patently false. at best, it’s deeply misleading.

here’s why.

great ideas attract great things.

what do i mean by that?

well, let’s take the opposite – a mediocre idea. if you’re an entrepreneur with a mediocre idea, you’ll have a harder time attracting A++ talent. the best people want to work on the biggest, highest-potential opportunities they can find, and your software tool for food trucks ain’t gonna cut it.

not only will it be hard to attract A+ people, but it’ll be harder to raise funding or enroll amazing partners in your vision. VCs make their money on 1000x home runs, which (in many ways) requires thinking a bit out there.

you’ll also have less competition. running at an amazing idea almost certainly means you’re the first doing it (after all, if someone else is doing it well already, it’s not an amazing idea anymore).

in my opinion, great ideas are often good enough to offset the founder’s weaknesses. chase down a great idea for a bit and – if it’s truly great – you’ll be able to recruit amazing partners, employees, and money… all which you can use to offset your weaknesses as a founder. it becomes a self-reinforcing loop.

great idea -> great employees -> great partners and funding -> allows for reinvestment into more great people and more great partners. a virtuous cycle.

there are (by all accounts) mediocre operators with AMAZING ideas who manage to – for years – do amazing things. think elizabeth holmes (theranos), parker conrad (zenefits), etc. their great ideas attracted capital and other great people for a while.

i think this is also why jack dorsey and elon musk can do multiple, massive companies: their ideas are just *better* than others. then leverage these great ideas to bring the right talent in and go from there.

 

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