I used to think the key to entrepreneurship was a novel idea. Isn’t that what most of us believe? I wanted to invite a new high tech widget or offer a cool new service that no one else had thought of. That was the way I would make my millions.
The first blow came when I realized that ideas are mostly worthless. Somebody else has thought of your invention, they just haven’t built it. If no one had thought of your idea, then it is probably beyond current technology to build anyway. That is why you don’t see business plans for time machines.
When that was stripped away, I realized it was all about being first to market. Right?
The second blow came when I realized that too was wrong. Google wasn’t first to market. Neither was Microsoft. Few companies successful over the long term were first to market. First to market means you get to learn from your own mistakes… and so does your competition. But it costs you more than it does them. So I put that aside and started to think it was about the execution.
I was getting warmer now, and at least I hit on something that really makes a difference, but the third blow came when I realized execution wasn’t enough. Peter Drucker wrote that “nothing is worse than doing something very efficiently that shouldn’t be done at all.” He’s right. I could execute the hell out of a dumb business plan and I might have enough for a bus ride at the end of it, if I borrowed $0.50 from you.
Photo by Big-E-Mr-G.