Question: Which stage do you think is most important? Obviously all of them are needed, and it may be dependent on your personality.
At the highest level, I think there are 3 necessities to start a business, and to remember them, you just need to be cool as I.S.E. This gives you the 3 necessities in order of chronology, but NOT importance: First, you need an idea, then you need a strategy, and finally you need execution. Let’s take a look at these 3 in more detail:
People love to talk about how they have a “billion-dollar idea,” or, when they see a new product or service hit the marketplace with amazing success, they’ll say “they stole my idea!” Now, don’t get me wrong, everything starts with an idea, and people have become rich, famous, and happy because of an idea, but it’s only the start. There will, of course, be the next Evan Spiegel, but if you’re just starting out, I recommend putting your effort on the bet with higher odds.
The other thing to consider is that, if you’re trying to start your own business, you don’t need an original idea—in fact some people may argue that they don’t exist! There is nothing wrong with looking to the market that you want to serve, seeing what the demand is, seeing how people are currently serving (or not) that demand, and putting your own spin on it. There is still a surprising amount of creativity and hard work that is required to do this.
The second necessity to start a business is strategy. This is my favorite, and here’s why: As I implied above, ideas are cheap, and, with the right strategy, execution is easy. Strategy also requires an enormous amount of creative thinking. You have to take an abstract concept—your vision—and turn it into a tangible plan that you could put on paper.
If the idea is a light bulb, then the strategy is the filament, glass, gas, electricity, circuit, and the guy who flipped the switch. Maybe it’s my personality, but bringing all these moving parts into cohesive mission is very enjoyable. The important thing to remember is that you have to be willing to pivot or change your strategy when necessary. Mike Tyson said it well: “Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth.”
Once you have a sound strategy, it’s a matter of checking boxes. Some people get great pleasure out of knocking items off their to-do lists. The important thing here is to stick to the requirements you set up in your strategy (hopefully your strategy was S.M.A.R.T), work hard, and take a step back once in a while to 1) appreciate your progress and celebrate little victories, and 2) critique your direction and determine any need to shift your strategy.
You’ll need all 3 necessities to start your business. But maybe you can find a team of people that complement the others’ strengths. Which is yours?