More Important: Novel Idea or Execution
While having a unique idea is important, successful startup outcomes primarily hinge on effective execution.
I was speaking with an entrepreneur the other day about our Studio, and they asked a great question about how important is the novelty of the idea versus the execution. Short answer - almost all about the execution. But here are some reasons why I believe that.
Totally new idea or market
I meet with many entrepreneurs who tell me they have a unique idea with no competition. That is an immediate red flag. Someone, somewhere in the world has that same idea. We have a list of over 100 business ideas for our Studio, and over time consistently see new startups popping up that are very similar to those ideas. Another challenge is that if you are truly creating a new market, that often takes a lot of time and effort to overcome the “crossing the chasm” challenges of getting customers to even believe they have that problem or need a new solution.
What I do think is important in the idea is focused novelty: how are you targeting an underserved customer segment differently? What about your product offering is unique from how the market works? What unique channel are you leveraging to go-to-market that increases your adoption? While many legacy players or solutions may exist in a market, there often can be an underserved niche that you can uniquely target to get going that adds immediate value to that segment and allows you to build from there. It is critical to believe you are solving a must-have problem with authentic demand in a market that has potential to be a meaningful business.
Even with the best of ideas and a focused approach, many startups still fail from lack of execution. You have to get the team right, the go-to-market approach, the operational structure, cash flow management, etc. Execution also means constantly learning and pivoting your business based on customer and market feedback. While these details may not be as headline grabbing as a cool new idea or technology, they are critical to making your startup work, getting traction, and scaling up a company.
So while I do think you need focused novelty, execution still remains critical to ultimate startup success.