The myth that people get rich by having a “great idea”

Credit: Death to Stock
Credit: Death to Stock

Felix Dennis, one of Britain’s wealthiest self-made entrepreneurs, says:

“The second myth is that people got rich by having a “great idea”. While this is a more feasible hypothesis than having got rich by accident, it is a trap, because it is a partial truth… The follow-through, the execution, is 1000 times more important than a “great idea”. In fact, if the execution is perfect, it sometimes barely matters what the idea is.”

What you think of this wisdom from Felix Dennis?

Does he have a point?

Does what he says make sense?

If you look at things from the perspective of the idea alone, then Dennis is probably right. Many people come up with new business ideas but what happens to them? Do they follow through?

People may carry an idea around in their heads for years but never do anything about it. As time passes, the opportunity, unless it is rooted in a basic human need or want, fizzles out. What was perhaps relevant three or five years ago, has been surpassed by other ideas, products and services.

Getting ideas in the shower is almost a joke. How many people come up with so-called “brilliant” ideas in the shower but don’t act on them?

The other perspective from which to view ideas is execution. This is the part that Dennis reveres. No one can really argue with this. It makes sense, doesn’t? Without action, without effort, without organised plans an idea is just an idea.

Although the concept of the idea is put down, berated, scoffed and laughed at, the problem is that without an idea you don’t have anything to put into action.

It is really a good example of the chicken and egg dilemma. Without a promising new idea of what use is action or execution? Everything begins in the form or shape of an idea. Ideas are the starting point for every new product, service, novel, poem, painting, rock concert, new private school, TV commercial, TV reality show, blockbuster movie, fitness program and weight loss diet.

Here’s an example: a woman who longed to be an entrepreneur worked in accounting for many years until one day she came across an idea to manufacture a double-insulated metal water bottle and position it in the premium segment of the market.

To date she has sold 4 million units. Without the idea of a reusable water bottle better than glass or plastic and the idea to position her water bottle in the premium segment, her product would probably have never got off the ground. If the idea is the Ying and execution is the Yang, then she really excelled on action.

As soon as the idea came to her she got together with a designer, to design an attractive looking water bottle that would look more like a fashion accessory than a simple utility container for storing water. Then she sought out a manufacturer from China, did some clever marketing and arranged distribution from this platform in top-notch outdoor department stores. This is a case of idea + execution = success.

Possibly one level up from a single idea is a person’s vision. If you look at this woman entrepreneur, you will see that she had a vision to become an entrepreneur and it wasn’t too long before she found or came up with an idea to fulfill her vision.

If you have the drive and determination to try and reach for building something from scratch, this link will take you to a page where you can find an authoritative roadmap.

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