The biggest start-up mistake. Believing creativity is enough

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Spinning candy floss
Spinning candy floss (Photo: wikipedia

Start-ups come up with brilliant new ideas but they fail on execution. Take “WeTeachMe”, a course platform, which attracted no clients after 12 months. Living off savings the small team were ready to throw in the towel.

The problem with creativity is that ideas are merely ideas. It’s only when ideas are put into action or implemented that you can know if they will be successful or not.

This is why people can get so confused in brainstorming meetings. Those clever individuals who use their flashes of brilliance to communicate their superiority to their bosses in the room never actually implement the ideas. Their creative ideas that seem so impressive in the moment melt like candy floss when exposed to the real-world reality of business.

There’s a group of people, consultants and business writers who have never run their own small business who’ll con you into believing that you’re just one good idea away from making a million.

New business ideas have led to a million and more but it hasn’t been just the idea by itself. It has involved turning the idea into a product or service that people want. Ideas haven’t miraculously turned themselves into products or services. Smart entrepreneurs with guts and daring have come up with plans for their development and implementation. Yet the promise of being “one idea away from being a millionaire” is very, very compelling.

But while a promising new idea is a necessary condition for starting a new product or service, it is not a sufficient requirement to form a new business.

Look here, I’m not talking about checking out a catalogue of products from Alibaba and flogging them in your local market. That’s just an idea for an import business. Nothing to sniff at but it’s not something of your own.

What I’m talking about is an idea you have – not too new as you battle to sell it – that you can turn into a product or service and you own it (I’ve covered many examples on Idea Accelerator).

To turn your idea into an actual business you have to get involved with the dirty details. You’ve got to come up with a detailed action or implementation plan. You’ve got identify a market big enough to support your business. You’ve got to dig deep down into your reservoir of inner strength to grind it through horrifyingly difficult patches.

OK. “WeTeachMe” did all that. They believed they had the right idea. But they had to scrap their platform and build a new one. Customers are now buying.

New ideas are necessary but not sufficient. Detailed execution turns an idea into an innovation.

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