Ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.
Just like the above Steve Jobs quote, you must have heard a thousand times that execution is the most important part of building a successful company. This couldn't be further from the truth.
Often we overemphasize execution. You can't execute your way to success with a product that nobody wants. If you think of an idea like a seed, a defective seed can't grow into a healthy plant.
The risk with overemphasizing “execution” is it deludes people into running that if they work hard enough they can make any idea successful.— Justin Jackson (@mijustin) April 30, 2020
It’s just not true.
On the flip side, an idea that has tons of demand may need less “hard work” to make it succeed!
It is indeed easy to come up with ideas. Bad ideas. Coming up with a good idea requires a lot more.
The ability to identify a good idea takes a lifetime of effort! It’s the culmination of the experiences you’ve had, the markets you’ve observed, the customers you’ve listened to, the experiments you’ve run.— Justin Jackson (@mijustin) April 30, 2020
In software, the execution piece (building it) is easy by comparison.
Who your customers are, how much are they willing to spend and how many potential customers are there - all of these depend on your idea. The market has a ceiling and the market is decided by your idea.
The market you choose, and the idea that you focus on, are the most important business decisions you’ll make. They determine your trajectory.— Justin Jackson (@mijustin) April 30, 2020
Yes, how you execute is a part of that, but your ceiling for success is set by the idea itself.
Now if you are thinking, well what's more important?
As always, the reality is a little bit more complicated. Ideas and execution are intertwined. Both are always evolving. The idea of the product when you start building it and when it has become successful is rarely the same.
The fact is, most startups end up nothing like the initial idea. It would be closer to the truth to say the main value of your initial idea is that, in the process of discovering it's broken, you'll come up with your real idea.
Continuing the analogy of a seed, how often and how much you need to water, and what kind of fertilizers you use, depends on the kind of seed. Similarly, execution depends on your ideas.
Based on the initial idea you decide how you will execute and based on the learning from the execution you refine your idea. And the cycle continues.
Now that you know that both ideas and execution are important, how do you know if something is a good idea?
You identify a good idea by the problem it solves. Some characteristics of a good problem are that it is absolutely essential for the customer to solve, it is urgent and it is elastic. This is obviously a non-exhaustive list. Read more about evaluating your business idea in the second issue of this newsletter.
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Cheers! Have a productive day.
Prashant Anand (@primaprashant)