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Why Your Great Idea May Not Be A Good Business

Why Your Great Idea May Not Be A Good Business

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Why Your Great Idea May Not Be A Good Business

Why Your Great Idea May Not Be A Good Business

Many of us have experienced that moment of inspiration when an exciting business idea pops into our heads, and it feels like a surefire path to success. This initial spark is what drives many to dive into the world of entrepreneurship, dreaming of the riches that might follow.

But in my experience, the reality is that while a good idea is undoubtedly important, it’s just one piece of a much larger puzzle. 

Read on as I share insights on what you need in addition to a brilliant idea to start a successful business.  

Things Your Idea Needs In Order To Be A Successful Business

Every successful business begins with an idea, a spark that ignites someone’s ambition and dreams of success. However, after working with entrepreneurs over the last two decades, I’ve learned an important lesson: an idea, no matter how great, is just the starting point. 

To take an idea and turn it into a thriving business, I believe that in addition to an idea, you need four other elements for a successful business: execution, persistence, resources, and timing.

Related: Why Passion is Overrated When Starting a Business

1. Execution

Execution is the process of transforming an abstract concept (your business idea) into a tangible product or service. My premise is that an idea, no matter how innovative, remains just a thought until it’s executed. 

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

Steve Jobs

Continuing with this quote from Steve Jobs, let’s consider the story of the Apple iPod. Before its launch, the market had several music players like the Diamond Rio and the Creative Nomad. Microsoft later came out with the Zune and initially had an arguably better product (don’t be mad at me Apple fans – these aren’t my words). 

Apple didn’t invent the concept of a portable music player, nor were they the first to market such a device. What they did differently was execute the idea with exceptional finesse. Their approach to design, user interface, marketing, and integration with iTunes set the iPod apart, and this is a classic example of how the better execution of an idea is often more important than the idea itself.

Whether through a slightly different take on a product or service, unique marketing, or better customer service, I’ve seen more common, everyday ideas achieve great success through better execution and ideas that were better than sliced bread. Which, really isn’t that great, but you get the point.

2. Persistence

While the initial idea provides inspiration, persistence is the ability to keep moving forward, even when you don’t want to. 

Launching a business requires an immense amount of effort to transform an abstract idea into an actual product or service. Not only that, you will have to deal with roadblocks, doubts, and doubters, which can take a toll on your motivation. 

Yet virtually every first-time founder believes they have the necessary grit and resilience because persistence is an internal quality that’s hard to judge accurately. When aspirations collide with reality, some will discover they have less persistence than imagined. Progress stalls. Motivation fades. Mental toughness wanes. If your why isn’t strong enough (and no, while nice, money isn’t often a strong enough why), it can be difficult to stay the course. 

Thomas Edison is perhaps the poster child for persistence. He said,

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” 

Thomas Edison

Edison viewed each failure as feedback to iterate. He made 1,000 attempts over multiple years to finally perfect the commercially viable lightbulb. In today’s world of immediate gratification and social media showing everyone’s highlight reels, many aspiring entrepreneurs will give up after 10 failed attempts over weeks.

All this is to say that starting any business is a rollercoaster ride filled with exhilarating highs and demoralizing lows. Progress is never linear, but you still will need to put in long hours, solve a lot of problems, and face points of failure. Persistence means not just enduring but learning from these failures, adapting and changing course if necessary, and maintaining the drive to succeed, even when the immediate results aren’t as expected.

3. Resources

While excellent execution and unrelenting persistence provide a strong foundation for a new business, access to the right resources determines whether a good idea makes it to the hands of customers. 

When we talk about resources, it isn’t just about money (though it’s very important). It’s also about the human ones – the builders, coders, designers, copywriters. Having the right resources can also mean having access to a network of connections and mentors so the business owner can get proper guidance and support. 

In my experience, a single founder, no matter how smart or persistent, cannot excel at everything and will need to let go of their idea and trust others in order for the idea to grow into a successful business.

4. Timing

When discussing the necessary factors of starting a successful business, timing is a factor that probably deserves more attention than it often gets. There are a few aspects of timing to consider.

Perhaps the most recognizable is timing the market right. Maybe it is truer for bleeding-edge innovative companies than most; even the greatest idea can flounder if the market timing isn’t right. Consider Pets.com, a late 90s online pet supplies retailer that failed due to poor timing. Today, it seems hard to believe that an online pet supplies business that raised almost $83 million to compete in a multibillion-dollar industry would fail. It did because it entered the market too early as it sold products at a loss in the hopes of building the market, but at that time, people weren’t ready to shop online for pet products.

A second point for timing is actually launching. There will always be unforeseen delays, changing market conditions, resource constraints, or even recessions that threaten a new business, but aspiring founders may also fall into the trap of endless planning and preparation in hopes of perfectly aligning all variables. This is a common misstep among founders (more so by founders of tech-focused companies) by focusing on product features and benefits they assume the customer wants, without conducting thorough market research. This can lead to over-engineering a product for a market that isn’t ready or interested, leading to wasted resources and efforts, or worse, never launching the business. 

A last point for the right time to launch a startup goes beyond market factors. Major life events like a new child, wedding, divorce, or family illness will understandably demand your attention. While starting a business is never easy, having a stable(ish) personal foundation will make it easier to weather the inevitable challenges and stress that a startup will bring.


In a world brimming with bright ideas and groundbreaking concepts, it’s a common belief among wantrepreneurs that a great business idea paves the way to success. While a good idea is important, it’s far from the sole ingredient for a successful business.

So, if you’re serious about launching a business, remember this: ideas are common. What sets successful entrepreneurs apart from wantrepreneurs is the transition from dreaming to doing. 

What will your first step be?

Why Your Great Idea May Not Be A Good Business

Why Your Great Idea May Not Be A Good Business

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