What is better to start a business: a Great Idea or Skills/Expertise?


3

There are two alternatives to startup path:

  1. A great idea (to solve a gigantic consumer problem) with enormous scalability, sustainability for long-term but in a different field/industry in which the founder is not so familiar with.
  2. A good idea (to solve a medium problem) with decent scalability and sustainability, in a field/industry in which the founder is very familiar even with small details and good amount of expertise.

Which is the better alternative?

Ideas Skill

asked Mar 22 '11 at 17:32
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Financewhiz
36 points

4 Answers


11

#2 - to me there's no doubt. (and one caveat at the bottom)
Couple of reasons:

  • The amount of #1-type ideas is infinitesimal (Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter... what else?). The chances of a given person to have one are very small. You can waste a lot of time and energy looking for one and still not finding it.
  • Execution is far more important that idea - most wildly successfully companies/products were not the first to implement their particular idea (Google, Facebook).
  • For any given idea you have there are probably 10 other teams somewhere right now working on the exact same idea. This is because ideas mostly happen in context - you read something, you read something else, you connect some dots and you have an idea. Communication is so fast and efficient right now that everybody is connecting the same dots you are, at the same time.

*Caveat:
If you have a #1-type idea right now - you should drop everything and start working on it right now. I can only assume that the fact you're asking the question means you don't have one yet.

answered Mar 22 '11 at 18:47
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Pasha Bitz
231 points
  • Another caveat - which has option has people spending $? – James 8 years ago
  • Thank you Pasha, your third reason was awesome eyeopener....its true in this information savvy world....i understood that EXECUTION matters !!! Thank you once again :) – Financewhiz 8 years ago

5

Check out this formula for thoughts on how to value idea versus execution. I'm not saying it's 100% accurate, but you can use the concept to help make your decision.

AWFUL IDEA = -1

WEAK IDEA = 1
SO-SO IDEA = 5
GOOD IDEA = 10
GREAT IDEA = 15
BRILLIANT IDEA = 20

NO EXECUTION = $1
WEAK EXECUTION = $1000
SO-SO EXECUTION = $10,000
GOOD EXECUTION = $100,000
GREAT EXECUTION = $1,000,000
BRILLIANT EXECUTION = $10,000,000

To make a business, you need to
multiply the two.

The most brilliant idea, with no
execution, is worth $20. The most
brilliant idea takes great execution
to be worth $20,000,000.

However, execution may not depend on how familiar you are with the field. Within a short time of starting, you will probably be an expert regardless.
answered Mar 23 '11 at 03:04
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Brian Deterling
984 points
  • Brian....3 cheers for that equation !!!! Ha Ha....solution simplified with your answer...thank you :) I believe your natural ability to convert tough and heavy situations into easy and light moments...GREAT :) – Financewhiz 8 years ago

2

Those aren't the general choices, so I assume you're being specific to your current situation.

Three questions are common to most startups:

  1. Why is this problem important?
  2. How does this solution help?
  3. Why are you the best person to progress?

Your second case suggests you have good answers to all three questions. Your first may be illusory - lack of domain knowledge makes all of (1), (2) and (3) suspect.

So my thinking would be, you have every reason to progress your 'medium' startup. And your 'gigantic' possibility may need further investigation, and perhaps the involvement of partners who bring the domain expertise you lack.

answered Mar 22 '11 at 19:11
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Jeremy Parsons
5,187 points
  • Jeremy, as you said, my #1st case could be illusionary due to lack of domain knowledge....I would progress with my startup(in financial services) and investigate further with my #2nd case...thank you :) – Financewhiz 8 years ago

-1

The unique ideas always work. If you have a great unusual idea, you should probably start with it. If you aren't so familiar with it, you can always find people who are. An average idea seems to be not so risky, but it will not bring you as much profits as a unique one.

answered Dec 27 '12 at 03:04
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Anastasiya
1 point
  • This is just plain wrong. So many of the most successful businesses are based on slight iterations of existing ideas, just with very good execution. – David Benson 6 years ago

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