There is an old saying, "Ideas are cheap, 'tis execution that pays the bills". It's possible to have a good idea and use poor execution. It is possible to have a poor idea and use good execution. Allow me to pontificate:
Good idea, bad execution
An example of a good idea that was executed poorly is WebVan. Founded in the late 1990's, WebVan promised to let you order groceries online and deliver them to your home. This is a good idea and one I would pay a premium on. Mostly because I'd be able to avoid maniacal coupon clipping crazies clogging up the isles with their grocery carts and coupon flip books.
The good part of the idea is in taking friction out of the grocery shopping experience. Many a good business model has been in offering convenience at a slightly increased cost.
The bad execution comes in how WebVan allocated it's funds. Since huge tranches of money was raised through Venture Capital and though an IPO, Webvan was not careful with it's funds and collapsed under it's own overbuilt, overspent and underutilized weight. WebVan was voted the #1 Dot-com flop by C-Net in 2008.
Bad idea, good executionAn example of a bad idea with good execution is the Snuggie. A Snuggie is a blanket with sleeves (You just can't make this stuff up). Snuggies are available in stylish and fetching "designer themes" and can suit all tastes and desires. That is, if your taste and desire is to look like one of those Heaven's Gate Cult members. However, Snuggie's strategy was to find those sorts of people through late night TV advertisements and sell the product of their dreams, a blanket with sleeves.
Had someone pitched the idea of a business revolving around a blanket with sleeves, I might have suggested the market was already saturated with blankets with sleeves known by another name, flannel shirts.
Putting it all togetherGood execution makes all the difference. Good execution means balancing cost with demand, sales with production and efficiency with quality. If any of these items drifts out of balance, you'll have issues.
A common temptation for Founders is to focus too much effort on their personal special function, and too little on other functions. A technical founder will often spend too much time writing software and not enough time finding and validating markets to purchase the software. An operational founder may spend too much time writing organizational processes and not enough time with the product team or with the marketing team. At ChallengeWave, I tend to focus too much on the software side, and not enough on the tactical sales functions. Sometimes if given the choice to spend the afternoon writing a new feature for our software, or writing proposals to send to prospective customers, I'll choose to write the software.
This is a natural tendency because we tend to feel most productive when we perform our core skills. We can actually feel like we are "not working" when we perform non-core skills. I know I sometimes feel like I haven't been very productive when I work on marketing copy or on proposals in place of writing software.
However, in a start-up environment, sales are everything. I should spend every available moment sending out proposals because sales are the current area we are growing in.
If you are a founderI'm interested to hear which are the areas you should be focusing in more and what are the barriers keeping you from those areas?
If you are interested in a demonstration of ChallengeWave for your organization, let us know.