In the realm of startups, the perfect idea is like a unicorn–it doesn’t exist. It is one of those things you will be looking for forever. What does this mean for you and your brilliant idea? All it means is that you need to loosen the kung-fu grip you have on that amazing idea and get down to business. It’s all about the execution, baby!
I am not hating on unicorns or on good ideas. Don’t get me wrong, the idea that unicorns exist somewhere outside of the realm of Etsy and Lisa Frank stickers is appealing to me too. In fact, I got super giddy when we came up with the name Metricorn for our latest web app, and was emphatic that a unicorn was a part of the logo. I wanted to go out and buy confetti cake and sprinkle gold glitter on my co-founders heads. But without execution, I knew deep inside that nothing else mattered. Not the quality of our team, the branding, or the business plan (those are outdated anyways).
In the end we knew that we had a lot of work to do if we were going to bring this idea to market. And most importantly, we knew that there was a good chance that our idea would look very different than we first imagined. And we had to be okay with that. We had to take our energy and focus and direct it towards the execution of the idea, not the preservation of the idea.
Why am I telling you this?
I often run into people who think that they have an idea for the next greatest thing. I usually ask them some questions to get more details (I’m a nerd–I can’t give up on the idea that there might just be a unicorn out there) and low and behold they feel like they can’t say the idea out loud because someone might steal it. In that moment, the pragmatic part of me wants to verbally slap them across the face with, “Ideas are cheap, and so is yours and then list all of the big brands who were not the first ones to implement their idea. Pandora was not the first music site, Groupon was not the first deal site, and Facebook was not the first social site.” However, I refrain, because unsolicited advice has never won friends and influenced people. So instead, I listen intently, smile a lot, and wish them luck. Then I say a little prayer that when they do finally begin the process, the universe will hand-deliver one of Steve Blank or Brad Feld’s books into their hands.
Step 1: Drop it! Let go of the idea that there is a perfect startup idea. You don’t need that stress.
Step 2: Loosen the kung-fu grip! Once you have settled on an idea, make sure you are open to the idea changing and morphing into something different. Be open to pivoting. As you hash out your idea, you will learn more about what your product needs to be to serve the market.
Step 3: Get started! There is no time like the present. Go find customers that validate your idea. Implement it! Pivot if you have to! Rinse and repeat.
“The products and their subsequent companies became great because of execution. First, they had to execute on building a great product. Next, they had to execute on building a great business. Finally, they had to execute on scaling, sustaining, and evolving a great business.”