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You Don’t Need a Big Idea, You Need a Great Team

Ideas are a dime a dozen. Everyone has them, everyone’s heard them. Some people even build huge businesses on nothing more than grand ideas. There’s a fundamental problem with this mentality. Ideas are not what you need. Comparatively, some may even call them meaningless.

“I just had an idea for a t-shirt” – “I just thought of an amazing iPhone app” – “I think I’ve invented the next big (fill in the blank).” A common misconception among entrepreneurs is that a singular idea can be a catalyst to success. This is not true. In reality, ideas are nothing more than specifically defined concepts that allow individuals (and teams) to showcase their talents, execution, and brainpower.

Every “new” idea is a derivative of something before it. These days, nothing can be purely invented, à la the lightbulb. Take the iPhone as an example, with its awww-inducing, mind bending technology. While absolutely stunning, it’s merely an intelligent implementation of previously existing technologies. What the iPhone did (as a true catalyst to success), was give Steve Jobs, Apple, and the immense brainpower behind the company a global stage. They placed themselves prime in the spotlight, ready to show-off their precision perfect execution and world-class talent. It wasn’t so much the idea of the iPhone, more so that they knew how to back it up. Apple knew it could execute the development and engineering, market the product, bring it to the public and generate demand. The idea of the device is secondary to the knowledge and experience that they have (more on this later).

Far too many people spend hours upon hours dreaming up that next “big idea.” But that’s the wrong mentality. Ideas aren’t the bread and butter behind innovative services, popular software and great companies. Actual bare bones development, time spent on the product, and months and years of hard work are what can be attributed to a company’s success. Would you rather play the lottery every day with the hopes of hitting the jackpot? Or would you rather make a calculated and well-researched investment? If you chose the lottery, then it’s time to re-evaluate what you’re doing.

The notion that this magical, all-encompassing idea will come along and make you rich is a complete farce. You have a much better chance at being “successful” (however you define success) – if you have good foresight, and focus on what’s important.

Going back to the iPhone, would Steve Jobs and Apple have pursued revolutionizing the mobile industry if they felt they couldn’t deliver the actual product? Not a chance. It’s a phone. They tried to launch a phone with Motorola in 2005, it sucked. The idea of a revolutionary mobile phone is completely secondary to actually delivering the goods.

Rather than trying to invent a “make it big” idea, having good instincts, foresight and putting together a team that can execute has much greater value. If you spend time putting together a group of people than can actually deliver the goods, an idea becomes nothing more than a showcase for your talents. With the ability to execute, ideas become distilled down to their essence. This makes way for knowledge and communication.

The industry needs a wake-up call, and a majority of entrepreneurs need to shift their focus. I’d much rather see world-class teams developing products they believe in, as apposed to the generic Venture Capitalist funded rapid startups that only make noise.

A team with knowledge and experience will see an idea as a means to showcase what they’ve learned throughout the years. A good team will take each project or product as a culminating adventure. Whether it be discovering new user experiences, writing faster queries, managing larger infrastructures or perfecting communication flows, every component plays an integral role into the next.

Stop trying to invent the next Google… Focus on what’s really important and the natural paths will emerge.