Conventional wisdom says that with the right startup idea, success for a founder is all but guaranteed. Eureka moment -> Startup -> Cha-ching. Everything else is a matter of details. But the devil is in those details.
It’s easy to come up with the idea of a food delivery service, for example. Obviously, people need to eat to stay alive and they don’t always have the time to go buy food for themselves. Obviously. But it’s not as straightforward to make deals with restaurants who were doing fine before you came along. It’s not as easy to get permits, or manage a fleet of blue-collar delivery staff, or design scale-proof processes. The idea, in itself, is incomplete.
This has led the startup community to the other extreme: “ideas don’t matter; execution is everything”.
One reason why execution is valued higher is that ideas are often replicable. As soon as a market gets proven and a product starts making money, it will get copied to the ends of the earth. This is expected, and so the only difference between all the many versions of the product is how well they were executed.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean the ideas themselves are worthless. But the execution is what makes them valuable. Those little actions and decisions add up to make the whole. As Sam Altman said, “What being a founder means, is signing up for this years-long grind on execution — and you can’t outsource this.”
Here’s an interesting comment from Mike Sellers on processes first-time entrepreneurs are completely blind to:
An idea is not a mockup
A mockup is not a prototype
A prototype is not a program
A program is not a product
A product is not a business
And a business is not profits
Profits are not an exit
And an exit is not happiness.
All in all, good products involve a series of ideas executed continuously.
Links from the Internets
- Mindshare before market share. [Link]
- Management is a deeply, deeply personal thing + other lessons [Link]
- The today and tomorrow of Machine Learning. [Link]
- Leading the people. [Link]
- Money. [Link]
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