Article Contributed by Julius Pankoke
College dorm rooms, garages and co-working spaces. If you read the startup news these days, that is where billion dollar businesses are created. An inspired individual is hit with the idea for Uber or Facebook and just like that they are on the unicorn track. But is it really a ground-breaking idea that makes these people as successful? Do you need a unique idea to become a success yourself? No. And here’s why.
The problem is the definition of the startup itself. Even though it’s usually used for innovative companies in an emerging field of business, there is no set of characteristics to define what is and what isn’t a startup. Is the new coffee shop a startup just because they offer a special kind of coffee and are partly crowdfunded? Maybe it is. But will that affect its success? Unlikely. The quality of the coffee and the service are more likely to attract customers than the status as a startup. So no general innovation is required for this business to be a success. Companies like this make up the vast majority. So to give the people a better chance to become an entrepreneur, we will need to separate being an entrepreneur from creating a startup.
10% Idea vs 90% Execution
That’s a figure you probably have seen around when reading about entrepreneurship. Although it’s quite impressive, it’s also made up. It just serves to emphasize a point that a lot of veteran entrepreneurs like to stress to no end. To be successful you need to work hard. Starting a company and making it a success is a process that will likely take years. These years will be filled with hard work. An idea alone does not make money. You will need to create the company, develop processes, find customers, find partners, hire employees, lead employees, develop strategies and keep innovating the product. That is just a small part of things you will need to do in order to become successful. Or you are smart and find people who do these things for you. Nether the less, an idea is nothing without execution and as such not worth a lot. Some of the biggest companies took years to become successful. Some even faced possible failure more than once, while growing. Just take a look at Apple and Amazon. Nether become a success overnight and both are celebrated as being extremely innovative.
Waiting for the ball to drop
A lot of people, who are interested in starting a business are caught in a kind of entrepreneurial purgatory. Having an innovative, disruptive idea becomes a must have before starting up. In a world where a lot of things are already invented and a lot of problems have already been solved, really innovative ideas are rare. A good portion of these people would be better served to just start a business in an already existing field. Chances are, if they have a knack for entrepreneurship, they will make their business a success.
Innovation instead of Invention
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to become successful. Instead, you should try to improve it. Find a problem that has been solved, but still has some room for improvement. Develop something or make a process easier, so that you solve the problem better than the competition. This will generate an added benefit for the customers and is a good base for a successful company. Quite a few greatly successful companies are based on this principle. Amazon didn’t invent online shopping, but they made it fast and easy. Uber didn’t invent motorized transportation of customers, but they made it cheap and fast by recruiting people with time to spare.
Having an idea for a disruptive new kind of business is a cool thing. It drives us to reach further and try harder. But there are just not enough completely new concepts to go around for everyone. So instead improve on what has already been thought of and make it just that bit better. That bit easier. That bit more fun. If you stick with it and invest your time and energy into it, you can become a success as well. We can’t all be Mark Zuckerberg and we don’t need to be.
Julius Pankoke is content contributor and start-up enthusiast. His areas of expertise are entrepreneurship, business development, and digital marketing. He enjoys both writing and reading good blog articles. With SmartBusinessPlan he currently helps entrepreneurs write excellent business plans.