July 26, 2007
How many times have you heard?
- He is successful because he has the first mover advantage.
- I have a bright idea. I will seek venture funding and make it BIG!
- There are so many simmilar businesses around? There will be a lot of competition for my new business.
I bet, you must have come across a variant of one of these statements.
They all signify the general perception that a unique idea (or a first mover advantage, or an invention) is the core of a business. Actually this is not true.
Ideas are important. In fact, a business to keep its edge in the industry need to keep re-inventing itself and come up with new ideas, variance, reasons-to-do-business-with and disruptive trends to gain a leading position or maintain his leadership.
Ideas are the fundamental inputs for running a business. They are nothing special. If you cannot think out of the box, or come up with something unique on an ongoing basis, forget about succeeding in this cut-throat competitive economy. It is not for the light hearted ones.
But hold on. The process is execution! There cannot be an output without the process. The output will remain equal to the input if there is no process! It is a pity to see so many people burn midnight oil and hundreds of hours in defining, refining and protecting their idea, but they hardly take the first step forward to execute the same.
History is full of examples where visionary companies have emerged from innovation and smart execution of ideas which were conceived by someone else or invented by someone else.
- Microsoft didnt invented operating systems
- Apple didnt invented GUI
- Google was not the first search engine
- Dell was not the first desktop manufacturer
- Infosys was not the first outsourcing company
- Dhirubhai Ambani didnt set up the first polyster manufacturing unit in the world
The list is endless..
What these guys did and what is important is: See the Gap!
Nothing is perfect. Things happen in a given way which is good, may be better, but never the best. You can always better the effort by finding the gap what makes it imperfect. For a moment think of an "ideal scenario" and how it differs from what you are seeing today in a given context. Are you happy with everything? You cannot be. Its a utopian scenario.
If you see with a consumers' point of view, you will be able to see a gap almost everywhere, everytime and with everything! So if you want to really make the next big search engine – find the gap – find the pain – find the imperfection. And hey – you have an idea! It's so easy.
Now whats next!
- Validate your idea. See if it offers value to its stakeholders and create win-win synergy?
- Plan for the execution of the idea, but keep yourself flexible about its implementation and nitty-grittys.
- Plan for the risks. Risks can never be avoided. They can be managed.
- Set achievable targets and take youir first step.
All this really means – Take action!
So, when you can create idea at random (like an idea factory), you can always differenciate. And when you can differenciate and make things better – go ahead and do it. Take action.
Take baby steps. But try to walk. And soon you will be able to run.
Microsoft was a visionary company. It saw the potential in the business of operating systems. It harnessed its power and made it available for masses in form of DOS. They marketed it well and went on from becoming an innovator (mind you – not an inventor) to a world class company.
Google found that people are not getting the right results and they feel frustrated while searching for what they want on internet. They deviced algorithm which solved the problem. I bet when they started off, it was not a code as complex as you will have in spaceships! But they kept innovating, removing gaps as they saw them.
Social networking concept was initially mastered by a site called Friendster. However there are many more websites who have followed the same fundamental principle and improvised on that to achieve more fame and hiher valuation.
I am like a friend to most of my clients. When I speak to them, I always have this advice at the back of my mind. I advise them to do things differently to make it better in small increments based on those small ideas that you can generate at your will. To start taking the first steps towards a better web-application or a better business model. I am a strong advocate of compunding of small improvements done over a period of time to result in a considerable net effect.
So, its all about seeing the gap. Building small bridges and walking over them to leave your competition behind.
I look forward to see you all at the top at the game – ahead of the guys who invented the same.
Best of luck!