I have a great idea...

I talk to a lot of people about their ideas. Simple product ideas to large world-changing ideas. I like to help people formalize their product pitches. Taking complicated things and making them simple.

After someone pitches, they often ask, "What do you think of the idea?"

The challenge with hearing ideas is you often hear the same ideas. If a problem exists - which many people have - multiple people will independently develop solutions. This isn't good or bad, it just is.

The second type of idea you hear are crazy ones. Ideas which you don't think will work. According to Paul Graham these are the ideas most probable to become big winners.

That's made harder by the fact that the best startup ideas seem at first like bad ideas. I've written about this before: if a good idea were obviously good, someone else would already have done it. So the most successful founders tend to work on ideas that few beside them realize are good. Which is not that far from a description of insanity, till you reach the point where you see results.

I haven't hung around startups long enough yet to hear one of these "crazy" ideas become successful. I sure, it will eventually happen. Someone will prove my initial thoughts about a product wrong.

Stop Talking, Unless I'm a Customer

I hate hearing ideas. I like seeing products or hearing about potential customers. Investors do to.

The challenge with hearing ideas is most of the time they are just ideas. I don't even need to see a viable product. I just need to see a minimum product. If you don't have a small product, it means you aren't serious about your idea.

Stop talking about your ideas and go build it. If you can't build, find 100 potential users and see what their thoughts are. If you are embarrassed by talking to random people, you aren't built for startup life. Running a startup requires the courage to talk to strangers and be able to hear feedback which is painful.

Even if you can build. You should show that minim product to people and get their feedback. Do they think it's a good idea or a bad idea? A potential customers feedback is more important than my feedback could ever be.

Great Ideas Don't Matter

I may burst your bubble with what I'm about to say. Your idea doesn't matter. Your execution does. Don't be a talker, go do it. Actions speak louder than words.

There are so many businesses out there, that aren't great ideas. They fulfill a need people have. They aren't sexy. They aren't talked about it the news. But they make money. They are profitable. They hire people and pay for peoples mortgages and bills.

Go build something that supports you. Then scale it.

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Written: February 18, 2013