Execution Always Trumps New Ideas

Idea_vs_ExecutionIdea versus execution. It’s an on-going debate in the business world. Nevertheless, there is no shortage of experts who say coming up with a great business idea is not enough, it’s the actual execution that matters. Since I agree, it’s always nice to read another article that supports that side of the argument, especially one that cites good examples to make the point.

In her recent article, Execution, Not New Ideas, Give Startups Edge, ZDNet’s Jamie Yap joins a growing chorus who believe that an idea is not enough. Yap gets right to the point by saying, “Startups should be less hung up over how to reinvent the wheel with new ideas, and focus on execution because that is critical for overall success…”

She also cites Casey Lau, co-founder of StartupsHK, an open support group for Hong Kong startups, to support the argument that execution, not new business ideas, is what makes startups successful in the end.

Facebook and Android are both examples of execution trumping new ideas, Lau notes. While it was not the first mobile platform, Android deviated from the “walled garden” approach of iOS, which contributed to success of the now ubiquitous platform, he points out. As for Facebook, it copied various ideas from social networking of MySpace to break into the consumer mainstream.

In both cases, and fortunately for us, entrepreneurs found ways to execute a creative transformation of ideas that had already been done. Proving once again that coming up with a great business idea isn’t the hardest part of doing innovative things.

Source: ZDNet


Find Your Business Idea Without Reinventing the Wheel

Business_idea_listEntrepreneurs love to take an idea and customize it to the needs of a potential customer. That’s what starting a business is all about, isn’t it? Sure, you can add your own creativity to any concept and market it as a unique selling proposition (USP), but that doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel.

In fact, customizing a concept isn’t a choice; it’s a necessity if you want your business to be successful. All you have to do is find an unserved need in the market, look at its potential to offer something different and fill that gap.

For example, have you ever been charged a late fee for returning a past due rental video? You probably grumbled about paying the late fee, but you paid it anyway. Well, when a video store charged Reed Hastings a $40 fee for the “Apollo 13” DVD because it was six weeks late, he didn’t get mad, he got inspired.

Hastings wondered, “How come movie rentals don’t work like a health club, where, whether you use it a lot or a little, you get charged the same?” It was from this thought that Hastings created Netflix, a flat rate DVD rental-by-mail service. From its start in 1999, Netflix has grown into a big business with revenues topping $1.3 billion.

Finding Your Business Idea Is Only the First Step

How do you go about finding the right idea to start a small business? Begin by listing what you are good at, what you like, what things bother you? What would make your life easier?

Get a piece of paper, make a list and write down the answers to those questions to help inspire your ideas. So it might look like this:

Things I am I good at:

•    Solving problems correctly and effectively

•    Calming people down when they are upset

•    Expressing emotions in ways that build healthy relationships

•    Reading between the lines to understand someone’s real feelings

Things I like to do:

•    Immersing myself in a good story when reading novels

•    Spending quality time with my family and loved ones

•    Playing computer games on my PC

Things that bother me:

•    Finding poor spelling and grammatical mistakes in published books

•    Picking up my dry cleaning

•    Being stuck in traffic jams

Things that would make life easier:

•    Having a personal chef to prepare my dinner

•    Creating a chic capsule wardrobe on a budget

•    Finding a dry cleaner that delivers

Of course, your list will be unique to your talents and pet peeves, but you should start to see themes and ideas emerging. In the above list, for example, opening a call center that provides customer service is one option, starting a fiction editing service is another.

Once you’ve created your list of potential business ideas, focus on the ones that are feasible and weed out the ones that don’t appeal to you. If you are passionate about something, but don’t have the knowledge to turn it into a business, keep it on the list. It’s easier to figure out how to acquire the skills and knowledge to start a service than pursuing something you’re not passionate about.

Settle on the idea that has the most promise and do some market research. If the idea looks promising, move it to the business plan stage.

Source: PressPort: Why Starting a Business Doesn’t Mean Reinventing the Wheel

6 Steps To Finding Your First Business Idea

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Pursuing a Business


Becoming a successful entrepreneur requires thorough planning, creativity and hard work. But how will you know if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? To consider whether you possess the characteristics and skills to become a successful entrepreneur, there are key questions you must ask yourself.

Remember “Twenty Questions,” the parlor game where a person chooses a subject but does not reveal this to the others? All other players, who are questioners, have to figure out what the subject is by taking turns asking questions that can only be answered with a simple “Yes” or “No.” The premise for this game can be used to examine your natural aptitude at entrepreneurship.

In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration sets the stage for a realistic set of 20 questions you should answer to make sure you’re ready to start a business:

  1. Why am I starting a business?
  2. What kind of business do I want?
  3. Who is my ideal customer?
  4. What products or services will my business provide?
  5. Am I prepared to spend the time and money needed to get my business started?
  6. What differentiates my business idea and the products or services I will provide from others in the market?
  7. Where will my business be located?
  8. How many employees will I need?
  9. What types of suppliers do I need?
  10. How much money do I need to get started?
  11. Will I need to get a loan?
  12. How soon will it take before my products or services are available?
  13. How long do I have until I start making a profit?
  14. Who is my competition?
  15. How will I price my product compared to my competition?
  16. How will I set up the legal structure of my business?
  17. What taxes do I need to pay?
  18. What kind of insurance do I need?
  19. How will I manage my business?
  20. How will I advertise my business?

Jason Feffer, Co-Founder of SodaHead.com lists questions to ask yourself before developing an idea. Be sure to ask yourself these questions before investing time in kick starting a business.

Home-based Jewelry Business Idea

If you are already crafting jewelry items as a hobby, why not take it one step further and obtain an income from doing what you love? Starting a home-based jewelry business can be a rewarding business venture. To help get you started, I’ve sprinkled a few hyperlinks below, pointing to some resourceful guidelines for earning money from your own home-based jewelry business.

As a business idea, jewelry making is a great one, particularly for a home-based enterprise. With only the cost of jewelry supplies and tools, you can focus most of your budget on marketing. MySmallBiz.com recommends these steps to learn How To Start A Jewelry Business, including how to acquire the skills, where to get your supplies and how to sell your work.

Once you get started, running a home-based jewelry business requires you to do a little bit of everything, from bookkeeping to marketing, and most of the time, you can create your own schedule.

The Home Jewelry Business Guide Web site was written for both aspiring and established jewelry designers who want to grow their home based businesses into a successful and profitable stream of income.

Selling beaded jewelry at fine craft shows and jewelry shows is another way to start earning money through your own home-based jewelry business. If you don’t know how to bead, watch this video to learn the basics of beading as Karla Schafer, Auntie’s Beads designer, demonstrates how to make a bracelet.

Driven by her creative instincts, Sandy Rueve started She Beads in 1993 in Wilmette, Illinois, as a small cottage business, designing and selling jewelry and accessories. Now Sandy’s son Andrew and her daughter Alex work side by side with their mother to manage a thriving family business that exports jewelry around the world.

The realities of running a jewelry business.

Many jewelry designers have failed in the craft business because they have been unable, or unwilling, to deal with the realities of the business world. Therefore, it is important for you to not only learn more about effective ways to sell your products, but also how to manage your business—no matter what stage you have already reached.

Need A Winning Idea? Simply Ask Potential Customers

Arrange a focus group with little or no cost by using your social networks to conduct discussions online.

AnyMeeting is a free, ad-supported online meeting platform

If you are interested in starting a business, but don’t yet have a winning product or service to sell, improving an existing product might be the most obvious solution. Soliciting ideas from a focus group of potential customers is a good way to discover how a product could be better.

Many innovative businesses succeed by simply ‘tweaking’ popular products to make them more appealing to customers. In other instances, some companies have either figured out a new way to deliver an existing service, or introduced entirely new ones.

How will you know if your new and improved product will be a hit with customers? An effective way to gain helpful feedback is to form a focus group of potential customers.

Your focus group needn’t be expensive to deliver valuable qualitative information. An affordable and convenient way to moderate a brainstorming session is over a conference line, or it can also be a conducted online.

Rely on your network of LinkedIn contacts, business associates, or Facebook friends by asking them to participate in your focus group. After all, they will eventually become the end users of the product or service that you plan to sell.

Arrange an hour-long virtual group discussion by using services like AnyMeeting, an online meeting platform. AnyMeeting may be an appealing way to conduct your online session because it’s a free, ad-supported software-as-a-service (SaaS), which means there is no cost to you.

“Conduct a focus group where you get a group of maybe ten customers or even people who did not purchase your product, and ask questions,” recommends Lisa Rodriguez, founder of Next Level Consulting & Virtual Assistance, a small business consulting and virtual assistance firm based in New York City.

Asking your focus group for suggestions and comments will often prove to be invaluable marketing advice and sometimes can come as a surprise, says Rodriguez, who compiled important questions to ask: What did they like if they purchased, and if they did not purchase, what caused them to hesitate? Is there something that could be done to improve the product in their eyes? Did the copy fully explain what the product does for them and how it will be valuable to their situation?

To learn more valuable tips on how to improve a product and conduct your own product brainstorming session, read Lisa Rodriguez’s article, How Do You Improve Your Existing Product or Service?

Examine Your Own Skills to Find Business Ideas

A love affair with fashion inspires a Singapore duo to start a dressmaking business.

Jade Swee and Letitia Phay, dress designers

Are you interested in starting your own company but worried about where to find a viable business idea? You don’t have to look far. Your skill set may be all the inspiration you need. If your talent is something that is marketable, it could be an opportunity.

Many people are inspired by a life experience that ignites their passion to pursue entrepreneurship. An example of this is Singapore dress-makers and designers, Letitia Phay and Jade Swee, who decided they were so much in love with the art of making a dress that they started their own label, Time Taken to Make a Dress (TTMD).

The two met when they were both working in the same bridal studio, and decided to strike out on their own to try their hands at creating their own designs.

While Swee has a design background, Phay was solely motivated by her love for the craft of making a dress to join the industry after she graduated from school.

In the following excerpt from the article, Time Taken to Make a Difference, OnlineToday.com writer Francis Kan describes what motivated Swee to pursue the idea that spawned a successful clothing company.

At age 13, Ms. Jade Swee made her first dress using her grandmother’s sewing machine, a simple flora print affair for a younger sister. The act of creating something by hand inspired in her not only a love affair with fashion, but a devotion to quality craftsmanship.

That initial spark was fanned by her grandmother, from whom she learned traditional Peranakan crafts such as making beaded slippers.

More than a decade later, Ms Swee, 29, parlayed that passion and several years of working experience into Time Taken to Make a Dress (TTMD), a dressmaking business she set up with partner Letitia Phay, 28, in 2010.

“I used to follow my grandmother everywhere, observing her cooking and sewing. She taught me how to draft by drawing a dress on a newspaper. That was a very big part of how I got my skill even before fashion school,” she told TODAY.

The pair noticed a disturbing lack of attention being paid to the technical aspects of the business; the roll-your-sleeves up, backroom grind of putting together a garment that many young designers shied away from.

Read the full article on TodayOnline.com.

English: Scene of the set up at an Ottawa &quo...

Clothing Company Business Idea

If you’re wondering how to start a clothing company, there are a couple of key questions you need to answer before you get too far into this business.

To get started, you must first decide whether you plan to design and make your own clothing or source your clothes from other designers or wholesalers.

You also must determine whether you plan to operate entirely online, out of a physical retail store, or a combination of both – known as a “brick and click.”

Planning For How to Start a Clothing Company

Most people want to learn how to start a clothing company because they have a passion for fashion and would like to pursue their passion full-time.

Like any other business, learning how to start a clothing company begins with a business plan.

Visit MySmallBiz.com for more details about the business planning and key activities to get your clothing company started.

Research and Develop Your Home Business Idea

If you think your idea is original, then you might be right – but don’t bank on it.

Conduct market research.

Come up with as many word combinations relating to your idea as you can, and then search for them all. If you have trouble thinking of what to search for, try to think like a customer of your potential business—what would they look for to find you?

The chances are that you’ll at least find something similar to what you’re doing. If you don’t, then there are three possibilities: You’re a genius who’s come up with an original business idea, you’re no good at searching, or your idea isn’t practical.

However much you might think that the best ideas are original, it’s far better if you can find other people who are doing what you’re doing successfully.

It’s even better if you can take something that’s tried-and-tested in another country and import it to your own. If there’s no one else operating in your chosen market, then it doesn’t necessarily mean that no one has ever thought of it or tried—it’s more likely that it just turned out to be impractical.

There is another thing to look out for, though: You might find that your search terms find lots of Web sites willing to sell you a “kit” to start up that business more easily.

These kits are almost always worthless, but the fact that they exist tells you that your idea is a common one, and the market may be saturated.

The ideal home business, to my mind, is one where there seems to be an enthusiastic community of other successful home businesses, but not to the point where everyone seems to be doing it, or telling you how to do it.

Once you’ve gone through the preliminary checks, the best way to research your idea isn’t to keep staring over at other businesses—it’s to look to your potential customers.

Talk to as many people as you can about your idea, start a little canvassing, do market research surveys in the street. Do anything to try to figure out how many potential customers you’ve got out there.

It’s time to get specific.

When you’re running a home business, you’re not going to be big. You don’t have a big advertising budget, and you’re not going to be able to have lots of customers and make a small profit from each.

The kind of market you need is called a “niche market” – a set of customers who want something very specific, and aren’t currently able to get it.

It might seem strange, but the best niches can often seem really obscure. You might know what industry you want to be in, but exactly what are you going to be doing, and for who?

Here’s an exercise that you really need to do. Take your home business idea and write it down. You are only allowed to use one side of one sheet of paper for this.

The point of this is to make sure you know the absolute core of your idea. It’s all too easy to get bogged down in details when you start a home business, and you need to make sure you know exactly what your idea is, in its simplest form.

Once you’ve got the basics down, that’s when you can start to develop the idea. The aim here is to take your core idea and turn it into products, suppliers, customers and work.

For example, if your idea is to provide Web design for small businesses, then this is where you need to sit down and figure out what suppliers you’d need (Web hosting, for example), and what services you’d be providing customers.

Think of it as inputs and outputs. Imagine, for example, that your business is making clothes. It starts with the input you don’t control—what you “outsource,” meaning that you pay to order it in from outside suppliers.

For a clothes business, this would be a sewing machines, material, thread, and so on. The next input is what you add yourself. This would probably be the design and manufacture of the clothes. The output is the finished product—the clothes, ready to sell.