If I had to guess, I'd say the idea for this post probably dates back almost 15 years when I was thinking about starting my first business. I spent almost a year, off and on, trying to launch it. I had a site, checking account, several domain names, a phone number, stationary (it was 1998), etc., all the trappings of a real business. It went nowhere, but it wasn't for it being a bad idea. I could also make a case that it didn't fail for lack of trying. Here was the problem.
The idea didn't work, because my ability to execute did not come close enough to the size of the idea.
An idea doesn't have to be a billion dollar idea for it to be too big, and the gap between the two has nothing to do with how smart one is. That's what I didn't understand then. The gap is many things, but many of the most common reasons include:
- Money - not having enough money to execute
- Risk - not being willing to take the risk
- Specialized Knowledge - this isn't smarts, it's an understanding of market
- Relationships - the right people always make the key difference
You can always compensate and find a way to bridge that gap.
You can find people to help, get money, etc., and if you are fortunate, then you will be able to execute on the idea. The above is tough, because it means a lot of pieces to fill.
Sometimes, it's just better to adjust the size of the idea.
I have too many ideas for which my ability to execute does not match what is needed to be done. Statistically, that is the case for most businesses - seeing as they fail. When thinking about some of the people I've met who just seem to succeed no matter what, it's because whether they know it or not, when they started, things probably looked like this.
Then, after a time of working on it, they both grew, looking more like this.
Just as our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs, our aspirations are often bigger than our ability to make them a reality. The good news is, and I say this with some confidence, we can close the gap. Just because the idea was too big doesn't mean you won't succeed, and/or if you didn't succeed in a past idea, it doesn't mean you won't succeed in the future. More than anything, what I've learned from this process is just being realistic about what you start and to "Mind the gap." Don't start if it's not a good fit or if you don't have the toolkit to execute.
It's painful, but sometimes your great idea is someone else's business. Wouldn't be the first time it's happened to me, but then again I'm sure my business was someone else's great idea.