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Great Ideas and Better Execution

May 17, 2019

Great ideas have a glamorous ring to them, don't they?


We think about great ideas and we think about the first iPod, the first iPhone, the first Tesla, SpaceX, Google and any number of market-leading innovators.


It's easy to forget, at times, but Elon Musk didn't invent the electric car, Eric Schmidt didn't invent the search engine, Steve Jobs didn't invent the first touchscreen phone.


The difference between great ideas and great companies lies largely in execution. Ideas are easy to come by. Inspiration is easy to find.


I once heard a quotable statement, maybe by Peter Thiel (or one of the other big names in tech investing). I'm paraphrasing, but it was along those lines: If you come up with or find someone who has a great idea that hasn't been done yet, assume that at least 5 other people are already working on bringing it to market.


There are a lot of people on Earth. It's unrealistic to assume we're the only ones who have spotted a need or an opportunity, if there's a market for it that numbers in the millions - or even in the thousands.


Let's be real. Uber is taxi with a better app, better standards and a better brand.


Ideas are overrated in that we often tend to give them almost all the credit for a product's success. But in reality, if you take a moment to analyze why great ideas that worked did as well as they did, you'll almost always find that it was a relentless drive to overcome obstacles and great execution that was truly responsible for their success.


You had electric car concepts back in the 70's. Microsoft made a touchscreen phone before Apple.


It's ultimately not the idea that spelled "monopoly" for one company and absolutely nothing for another. It was a great idea, built on a solid business model into a product that delivers on its promise, which then was popularized through amazing branding, marketing and press.


I don't know of many bad ideas that became great businesses. But great ideas can fail just as well if the execution doesn't follow suit.


Figuring out "what" your business is going to do isn't enough. Figuring out "how" is equally important.


As a freelancer, I've worked with clients whose products have proven very difficult to turn profits on. In contrast, I've had the good fortune of working on projects where I felt as though my job was plain and easy to see through.


A marketer's job is to promote effectively. A product's job is to be useful and interesting. A company's job is to have a great team behind it. And a brand's job is to speak and appeal to a given audience.


All of them are important.


I'm aware that branding can come across as an overwhelming concept to a small business, a proof-of-concept-stage startup or a solopreneur. This again has a lot to do with association.


We think about the word "brand" and very quickly we think about names like Apple, Nike, Netflix and other such global powerhouses. But branding is important to small businesses, too.


Because the reasoning behind "why" branding is important and "what" needs to be done to match up to good branding principles applies to companies of all sizes. And it may very well be one of the top factors deciding whether or not a company or a product will be able to survive longer than 5 years on the market.


So when you think about execution, think about all the elements that lead up to effective execution.


If that feels overwhelming, strip down those complicated concepts into what is absolutely a "must-have" and start without the bells and whistles. But don't ignore them altogether - because your more established competitors won't either.