Ideas vs. Execution. Which is More Important?
Last week I posted my article on Ideas that come from Necessity in a discussion group on LinkedIn which turned into an interesting debate.
One person argued that Ideas are the easy part and that the hard work comes from executing a real business strategy. Others said that Execution is easy, programmers and hosting are a commodity and that the Idea is most important. I disagree with both.
In the last half of the last century something very interesting happened. People had extra money. They paid for their house, car, groceries, etc and had some extra cash lying around. Marketers seized this opportunity and created products specifically for this superfluous income. These great Ideas such as the personal computer, portable audio devices, home theater, etc were all pioneers of their time. The Idea came first, then you figured out how it was going to work.
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn't know exactly how they were going to sell personal computers back when they first started, they just knew that it was a great Idea. It wasn't until later that Gates figured out by focusing on partnerships with hardware manufacturers, Microsoft could sell software faster. Jobs didn't at first realize that by creating a cult following he could maintain brand loyalty. These were the olden days of coming up with a great Idea and following it up with Execution.
In today's post consumption economy the Idea and the Execution have to be the same thing. In other words, your Execution strategy has to be part of the Idea. You can't just say "I have a new Backscratcher". You have to say, "My new Backscratcher will have a social website where everyone can talk about the latest Backscratching gossip". You have to know ahead of time how cost effective it will be to produce these Backscratchers. Most importantly you have to figure Marketing into the Idea an thusly the Execution.
It's not so easy to spend billions of dollars on TV ads and expect to have a successful product anymore. The Idea has to have something that people really need and are looking for. This means that you have to create an ecosystem for your product that is based on the consumer finding and interacting with you through search engines, social networks, etc. The product or service has to be created with this New Marketing world in mind.
When we first started thinking about Doodlekit we didn't just say, "Hey, let's make a free website creator" and figure out how later. The Idea was to create a website builder that was easy to use, self servicing, could be hosted economically and was supported by just two people. We factored in that we wouldn't be #1 so we had to have low overhead. Without a huge customer service staff we still need to be able to have personal customer interactions so we had to make sure that people could manage just about every aspect of their site themselves. That's the Idea and that's the Execution.
The bad news is that it's getting harder to come up with a great Idea and make it an instant billion dollar industry. The good news is that if you can come up with a good Idea/Execution/New Marketing Strategy and run an honest business you can make an honest amount of money doing it.