I’ve talked to a lot of people, and I’ve been in the same situation myself in the past, who have identified an opportunity, or “startup idea”, and are considering whether or not to pursue it. Others may be considering joining an early-stage startup or someone with just an idea (pre-traction, pre-product, etc).
It’s common, and valuable, to evaluate an idea from a strategic and fundamental perspective. However, In reality, a company’s success is dependent upon a lot more than the quality of the idea.
Some people think the idea doesn’t matter at all. For example, many VCs consider the strength of the team the most important factor for evaluating an investment opportunity. I don’t think that the “idea” or product doesn’t matter. I think there are three things to consider in addition to how great the opportunity is.
How passionate are you about the customers you’re serving, the problem you’re solving, the product you’re delivering, the market you’re operating in, etc?.
Some people can put their head down and execute no matter what, especially if there’s financial incentive, but I think for most people, having passion can lead to much better execution, not to mention a much higher quality of life overall.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time working on any startup, so it should probably be something you’re passionate about.
The people you’re working on your startup with will have a major impact on it’s likelihood for success and your satisfaction. Inevitably, as you enter the market and you begin getting feedback from customers, your idea will evolve. The people you’re working on it with won’t change.
A team with the skillsets, experience, and relationships to be able to execute effectively will of course help tremendously. You will also be spending a lot of time together, so having people that you share values, ethics, goals, etc. with and generally enjoy spending time with could be tremendously beneficial.
If things don’t work out with your team, it can be detrimental to the company. Having a great team that’s both talented and works well together can be tremendously beneficial.
Do you have the ability to execute on this opportunity? Examples of factors that might influence your ability to execute include, access to customers, skillset required, domain expertise, relationships with partners or teammates, etc.
For example, if it’s a b2b product, knowing sales would be tremendously beneficial. If it’s an ecommerce company, knowing about competitors, processes, regulations, etc. would be valuable. There are also “soft skills” like leadership, team management, etc.
Key takeaway: A company’s success is dependent upon a lot more than the quality of the idea. The question is not just how strong is this opportunity, it’s what opportunity can and should I pursue.
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