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Did you ever wonder if the boys who cooked up Google were the first to think up their idea for page rank? My guess is probably not. Page rank turns out to be an outstanding idea. More than that is the outstanding execution that brought Google to where it is today. Building the system and writing the code to bring page rank to life and then convincing others that the results mattered, that was the hard work.
In a post last year Derek Sivers wrote about ideas being just a multiplier of execution. A great idea times little execution equals not much. I agree with this point. An average idea backed up with great execution is worth more than a great idea with poor execution.
One area that I work with many entrepreneurs on is validating their idea. There are a lot of different techniques used to validate an idea from focus groups to test marketing to just building the product and trying it. I have always liked Dyson vacuum cleaners. I tend to believe the corporate story that the inventor created over 5000 prototypes. I am guessing he has done his fair share of vacuuming.
The other day I was talking to an entrepreneur about his idea. It was software that he felt would make his life easier in his daytime job. He was a tradesman in an area where there are literally millions of like users. He built the software. He tried to validate his idea but at the end of the day there was one key challenge. When I asked him if he used his own product, he replied he did not have time.