How many people have we met and had a discussion with about business? They want to start a business. They have business skills. But they haven’t started one. Why?
Well here’s the most popular answer: they are waiting for a good idea, or even the big idea. They’ll be waiting forever. No idea will ever be big enough, good enough or without colleague criticism. And here’s why…
The truth is this: there is no such thing as a big idea.
All ideas are essentially created equal. All ideas are the same size. Ideas only exist in a mental or virtual world. So how can we tell how big it is? Keep reading, and this will start to make sense.
An idea that really works becomes a big idea only after we prove it.
How big an idea was Google? (Just another search engine.)How big an idea was ING? (An online bank without fees.)How big an idea was Cirque de Soleil (A circus without animals.)
None were really all that revolutionary, yet all of them have become revolutionary businesses, which have also revolutionised their industries. The firms in question had a market orientation that enabled them to build a business model innovation, rather than a widget innovation.
Fertile fields reap bumper harvests
To find a big idea, first we need lots of ideas (of which all are the same size). The ideas that worked didn’t have an advantage over the other ideas. They we’re all equal, but maybe other stuff happened to that idea that made the idea work. Stuff that is quite boring to talk about when we are brainstorming ideas.
The way we nurtured it.The way we believed in it.The way we developed it better.The way we tried a bit harder.The way we kept pushing it.The way we modified it slightly.The way we resisted the temptation to modify it.
Chances are, that idea had an advantage because of the way we treated it. Because we believed in it. Because we executed with excellence.
I once read a great quote by marketing polymath Seth Godin, which said,
“This isn’t about having a great idea (it almost never is). The great ideas are out there, for free, on your neighbourhood blog. Nope, this is about taking initiative and making things happen.”
I couldn’t agree more with this. And proof lies in the fact that we’ll find far more successful businesses built on average ideas, with forthright and driven entrepreneurs at the helm. Plenty of ‘great ideas’ never became successful for one reason: the people behind them. They didn’t make it happen.
The situation is much the same when raising capital – be it Angel, private investors, VC or the three Fs (Friends, Family and Fools). These people don’t invest in ideas. They almost never do. They invest in people. They invest in us as entrepreneurs. Ideas can be copied and patents can be bent, broken or improved. It’s a misnomer to think that our idea needs to be a world-beater to raise capital. It doesn’t. We need to be world-beaters.
The only thing that can’t be copied is us. Our management ability, our drive and our desire to forge a path to success. Investors invest in this. Never the idea. Ideas are free. Ideas are commodities. Ideas are substitutable.
All ideas are essentially created equal. It’s how the raw concept is treated and developed that makes all the difference. And that is always the responsibility of those behind them.
Stephen Sammartinoescaped his cubicle after 10 years marketing global brands. He has now founded two start-ups, recently launching rentoid.com – the place to rent anything.