ideas

Whose Idea Is It Anyway?

Original ideas don’t exist anymore

While writing my previous post Somewhere Between NDA And PDA, I started thinking about the originality of ideas. Most ideas have been done before, one way or another. Ideas come from problems or opportunities in everyday life, and other people and companies have been around for way longer than you or I to solve them. With new technologies, we can offer new solutions to replace old ones. It’s still the same idea. Look around the web and I guarantee you’ll find your idea in some shape or form, always different but slightly similar – or vice versa.

No big deal, though. It’s up to you to make your idea stand out, whether in the way you communicate or deliver your solution. In order to do that, you must ask yourself why. Why have previous solutions failed? Why is your solution better? Why is your team the best to create this solution? And so on… The point I want to make is that you shouldn’t expect your idea to be unique; no one does. Customers, investors, and employees included, they expect your idea to be sound.

Who cares about being original anymore?!

Somewhere Between NDA And PDA

An entrepreneur’s biggest fear

Unfortunately, we have this belief that when others hear our idea, they will take it and run. They will make all the money in the world. And, somehow, they will get it just right. I’m not going to argue whether an idea is important or not; I’m going to address the elephant in the room startup world: a hidden fear found in most – if not all – entrepreneurs that others want to and will steal their precious idea.

Once we have our idea, we tend to hold on to it and keep it to ourselves. Why is that? Probably because we think someone will copy it, steal it. We don’t realize that one day someone will do the exact same thing and that someone is a competitor. So why do we focus so much on keeping it secret in the first place, why are we so competition-averse at first but not later, why are we paranoid and afraid?

It’s stupid to think that talking about an idea means giving it away; it’s naive to think that our idea is original and no one has done it before; it’s short-sighted to think that someone won’t copy it sooner or later; it’s undermining to think that we can’t do it better. Facebook wasn’t first, and neither was Google. Elon Musk isn’t afraid to publicly discuss his ideas (see this image of him talking about his plans for Hyperloop on Twitter) and I doubt he ever feared telling people about his idea to build a high-performance electric vehicle. And you know what? He’s doing just fine.

Just because you think your idea is great, it doesn’t mean someone else will. And even if they do, they may not take a huge interest in it. And then if they do, they will not have the vision you have. You can always do it better than others; you have to if you want to be successful. Think NDA’s are going to save you? Think again. I’m not telling you to start flashing your idea around like a couple engaging in PDA at the bar, but do try to be more open about it. Don’t be paranoid, but don’t be careless either.

What’s an entrepreneur to do with an idea if not tell the world about it?

Ideas Are A Dime A Dozen, Invest In More Than One

Debunking the startup idea

Startup ideas are overrated. They are like weird relatives: everyone has one. And since ideas are so easy to come by, why not invest your time and effort in more than one? The more, the better! After all, ideas are a dime a dozen, right?

Ideas don’t cost money – not initially, at least. There are even ways you can validate your idea for free. If you’re a technical person, you can build your own product; if you’re a suit businessman then you can build your community. All it really costs you is your time. Now, you might have a family, a job or other commitments, but you can always decide how much time you want to invest in your ideas.

Too often, entrepreneurs get caught up in thinking about the money, how much it would take to build something and how much to market it. Well, normally you should be to do at least one of those with your time. You may then need to think about finding a partner for the other part or, at this point, consider the money that would be required. Either way, that’s less money you need to invest, and more time you can invest.

Entrepreneurship is risky and investing all your time in one idea can be a bad idea (no pun intended). It’s like they say, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. So, think about trying out different ideas to maximize your chances of success! Another reason for doing more than one idea at the same time is purely to stimulate your brain by exercising it with different tasks and pumping it with creativity. Get your juices flowing!

The idea isn’t really the idea. It’s just another idea. Another in a long line of ideas. Some will work, some won’t. Why limit yourself to one only?

How many ideas do you think you can juggle?

Ideas Are Worthless, Ideas Are Everything

Idea vs. execution: who wins?

Recently, I spoke about the relationship between vision and execution which brings up the question of which is more important for an entrepreneur, startup idea or business execution?

While there isn’t one decisive answer, many entrepreneurs have shared their thoughts on this question previously. Let’s look at some opinions from around the startup community:

FOR:

But the reality is that ideas do matter, just not in the narrow sense in which startup ideas are popularly defined. Good startup ideas are well developed, multi-year plans that contemplate many possible paths according to how the world changes.Chris Dixon

My view is that a startup is a continuum of ideas. The initial idea may bear some resemblance to the idea at any future time, but the actual instantiation of the idea can vary dramatically over time based on the learning that happens along the way.Brad Feld

AGAINST:

The value in an idea is found in the ability to execute and make it meaningful, not in protecting the idea from others. – Anthony Iannarino

Ideas don’t make money. Businesses make money. And businesses might be sparked by ideas, but they’re built on execution.David Berube

When entrepreneurs come to me with that “million dollar idea,” I have to tell them that an idea alone is really worth nothing.Martin Zwilling

Yes, unsurprisingly it seems that the general consensus is that execution trumps idea. Of course, it doesn’t have to be one against the other and successful startups should do both things well while successful entrepreneurs will have passion for their idea and inspire it in others to help execute. Unfortunately, this is all you get: an ambiguous answer at most; it’s up to you to put your idea and execution to the test as an entrepreneur.

However, I will offer this: either great ideas or great execution can lead to good startups. If you have a great idea that answers a need or solves a problem well, your startup can succeed. If you have a great team or set of skills which can help you with execution, your startup can also succeed.

Which path is right for you?