As a veteran entrepreneur, I’m a little jaded when it comes to “wantrepreneurs” and their big ideas. I see in them the same naivety that I suffered from when I first started Blue Smoke. The blind faith that their brilliant idea will simply sell itself. I tend to roll my eyes as they insist that I sign their Non-Disclosure Agreement before they will discuss their idea with me (as a professional, it’s a little insulting to insinuate that I would steal your idea if not for the threat of legal action). In reality, ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, some very successful businesses have proven that good ideas are completely unnecessary. The Pet Rock, the Snuggy, the Twilight series, all great examples of terrible ideas that succeeded thanks to great marketing (ok, I own a Snuggy, but whatever, it’s just a robe that you wear backwards).
I recently read an article by a man named Derek Sivers that perfectly illustrates this phenomenon: ideas are simply a multiplier. The real value in a business is in the execution. A great idea with no execution is worthless, but that same idea with great execution can be worth millions. Then again, a poor idea with great execution is still valuable.
How does one achieve excellent execution? By building and selling. Start selling even before you have a product, build interest, get feedback, do lots and lots of customer validation, start looking for professionals in a parallel industry that can introduce you to their clients. Build your product around the wants and needs of your target audience, not just your own narrow worldview. If you catch yourself saying “I would like to see this feature” rather than “potential customers have asked us to include this feature” then you are likely to fail.