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Think you need an original idea for your startup business? This is why you are wrong

Since starting my business, THE most important thing I’ve learned so far is this:

An OK idea with a fantastic execution is far better than a GREAT idea with an OK execution. 

Traditional startup philosophy starts with the assumption that a successful business is down to having an original idea. And if we look at some of the successful startups in past decades, that seems to ring true, doesn’t it? I mean, who wouldn’t have wanted to be the one to have thought of the idea for Facebook, for example?

But is this really true? Let’s challenge this assumption for a minute.

At any point in time, you may have a spark of genius that leads you to think of a great idea for a new company. Now, there are billions of people on this planet. So what are the chances that, at some point in time, someone has had the same thought?

Somewhere across the globe, another genius may have thought of the same thing. But perhaps they just didn’t know how to get started with launching a business. Or perhaps they did, but couldn’t find the people they needed to help build the product. Or perhaps they built a prototype, but they didn’t have any idea how to market it. Or perhaps they were great at marketing but their prototype failed because they didn’t know how to build it.

A great idea is just that. It’s an idea. It isn’t hard work. It isn’t blood, sweat and tears. It isn’t late nights. It isn’t research. It isn’t networking. It isn’t marketing. It isn’t trying something out repeatedly, failing, getting up and trying it again until it works. It isn’t a business.

So if you are contemplating whether your idea is really good enough to launch a startup, here’s some news:

You are asking yourself the wrong question.

The idea only has to be ok, and to be honest it doesn’t even have to be original. What does need to be fantastic is your approach to getting your idea launched. That is what will determine whether you succeed or fail.

But surely, if my idea isn’t original, I’m just a copycat business?

No. This is simply not true. Let’s take coffee shops as an example. Now, I live in the UK, and I’m old enough to remember what ‘coffee shops’ were like back in the 1990s, pre Starbucks era. The coffee shop I used to go to as a teenager had some nice cakes, cracked teapots, and watery coffee. There were hard, plastic tables and chairs, very few decorations, and zero atmosphere.

On paper, Starbucks is just a coffee shop, isn’t it? It has furnishings. It has coffee, tea and cakes. It has tables and chairs. So Starbucks was never an original idea. It was just another coffee shop.

Starbuck’s success was down to its approach. It challenged the status quo for what people expected from a coffee shop. It shook up something that was actually quite an old, established industry.

So you can do the same. If you love your idea, forget about whether it is original. Start thinking about how you can put an original stamp on what you are doing, and how you can do something different to what other businesses in the same industry are doing. Shake things up and challenge the status quo. Most importantly, spend your time, effort and perseverance on fine-tuning your approach, because it is your approach to launching your business that will be the real determining factor.

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3 Comments on Think you need an original idea for your startup business? This is why you are wrong

  1. Christain Spoerl
    May 16, 2014 at 5:27 pm (3 years ago)

    Great article ! My favorite point which home for me was – “Starbuck’s success was down to its approach. It challenged the status quo for what people expected from a coffee shop. It shook up something that was actually quite an old, established industry.” – BE DIFFERENT !!!

    Reply
    • Lauren
      May 29, 2014 at 10:04 am (3 years ago)

      Absolutely! There are enough copycat businesses out there. If you want to stand out and be successful, do something original. Challenge the status quo.

      Reply
  2. Michelle
    April 27, 2016 at 7:22 am (1 year ago)

    I’ve read stories of different people starting their own business with very little money. The fundamentals when starting a business is just be smart and wise. Just like what they say for every success story there are dozens of failures that go unreported. Have the urge to work hard and research the business you plan to start before you jump into the new business pool.

    Reply

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