Product Ideas 💡

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know (But Were Too Busy To Ask)

by Jakob Greenfeld

Ideas are worthless. Ideas are everything.

A common misconception is that entrepreneurship is all about coming up with great product ideas. There's a lone genius who has a eureka moment and afterwards the outcome is preordained.

This view is far too naive. There's certainly a lot more that goes into building a successful company. An idea alone with zero execution is worth (almost) nothing. Moreover, there are many examples of companies that failed where their competitors succeeded even though they started earlier with exactly the same idea.

As a response to the naive pop culture view of entrepreneurship, many experienced entrepreneurs feel the need to go full contrarian by saying that "ideas are worthless" and that "execution is everything".

This view is far too extreme. A silly idea executed perfectly will not result in a successful business.

Ideas certainly matter, just not to the extent and in the way that most people believe.

Ideas are Multipliers

A more balanced and realistic view is that ideas are just a multiplier of execution. To illustrate this idea Derek Sivers suggests to consider the following numbers:

  • AWFUL IDEA = -1
  • WEAK IDEA = 1
  • SO-SO IDEA = 5
  • GOOD IDEA = 10
  • GREAT IDEA = 15
  • BRILLIANT IDEA = 20
  • NO EXECUTION = $1
  • WEAK EXECUTION = $1000
  • SO-SO EXECUTION = $10,000
  • GOOD EXECUTION = $100,000
  • GREAT EXECUTION = $1,000,000
  • BRILLIANT EXECUTION = $10,000,000

The potential of each business is a product of two such factors. A brillant idea with no execution is maybe worth around $20. If you're sceptical how this can be true, have a look at the business model behind products like Ideas AI and Ideas Drop.

A good idea with good execution is worth $1,000,000, and only when a brilliant ideas is paired with brilliant execution, you end up with a billion dollar company.