The Idea vs Execution — which is more important for success?

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When starting a business, which do you think is more important for success: The idea or the execution? This has been an ever growing debate, and constantly debated by startup incubator.

Most people incorrectly assume that a company or an entrepreneur “makes it” just because of a big, bright idea. But the reality is that majority of successful startups have the following things in common:

  1. They don’t necessarily have a brighter or better idea than their competitors.
  2. They hardly ever are the ones who’ve come up with THE idea.
  3. They typically work on the same wavelength of ideas as their business rivals.

The difference between successful businesses and failed ones is the execution. Having stated that, it’s likewise important to acknowledge the significance of a great idea. Even the most proficient executor can’t thrive and flourish without the seed of an excellent idea.

Derek Sivers explains the topic with the simplest and coolest explanation we can have. He wrote,

To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.

Here is how he explained:

According to him, 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.

Let’s put this into perspective and think of some of the businesses you wish you’d started: Facebook? Twitter? Spotify? Instagram? How many of the companies you admire became great because they had a great idea and how many because the idea was well executed? Put it this way; If you had access to a time machine and could go back to 2003 a year before Facebook started, would you try and start Facebook yourself, or would you try and find Mark Zuckerberg and offer to invest in his company? It’s Zuckerberg’s skills in execution that is valuable, not the idea.

Well, I have another example to demonstrate idea vs execution with the creative paradigm. The most creative part of a project is again, the way an idea is executed, not an original idea on its own. Take a quick look at the most successful movies of last couple of years. In the top 5, let’s have a look at how many were an original idea:

  1. Marvel‘s The Avengers (Marvel comics started in 1961)
  2. The Dark Knight Rises (Batman first appeared in 1939)
  3. The Hunger Games (based on 2008 novel)
  4. Skyfall (James Bond created in 1953)
  5. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (based on JRR Tolkien’s fantasy, first published 1937)

What conclusion would you draw from that? The best way to make money in the movie industry is to come up with a brilliantly original idea (the rest will take care of itself), or take something that is already successful and evolve it with a brilliant execution?

At SimNation, we do more than design or build a product, our process takes you from initial requirement, through resource planning, along with identifying opportunities and finessing the financial model that will ensure that whatever you are dreaming to accomplish has increasingly higher odds of success.

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Author: SimNation

We are SimNation - Simulation through technology. We build usable software products that help businesses run better and ensure optimum ROI.

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