Practical applications of “execution is more important than the idea”

This is common knowledge for experienced entrepreneurs, and it’s why you really don’t need an NDA to discuss your ideas with someone (see number two on this list of mistakes people make looking for technical cofounders). Examples of this principle are easy to come by: a social network is a great idea, but only one execution of it (Facebook) survived while many (MySpace, Friendster, Google+) did not.

What I’d like to ask in this article is: how does one apply this concept? Well, there’s the obvious: don’t be precious about sharing your ideas with others. Telling people about them allows iteration, and iteration makes ideas better. But on top of that, it should influence not just how you execute your ideas, but also what ideas you execute.

If you’re anything like me, when you first start trying to come up with ideas… it’s a slow process. But after a certain point, the ideas come in a flood. Pretty soon you have too many ideas to execute than you’ll have time to do in 10 lifetimes.

Applying this principle should help you narrow that list down; ask yourself: which of these ideas is easiest to execute? Note: you may not know the answer to this yourself, and you may need to ask others with expertise their opinion. And that’s wonderful! Again, getting feedback will only make your ideas more robust.

Start with the easiest of your ideas to do. If it works, great! On to the next one, but with more experience (and hopefully money). If it doesn’t work, that’s fine too – you’ll still have more experience for the next easiest idea. The key thing to remember is that you don’t actually know what will work and what won’t – the only way to know is to try, so optimize for trying as many things as possible.

Once you do have some success(es) under your belt, you can start thinking about your more ambitious ideas. If you’re known for executing your ideas, you should have people willing to help you, and if you’ve already run your ideas past them, you should have some buy in from them as well. Once you have those things, so many other things will be easier to fit into place – for instance, if you need to raise money, an experienced team working with a successful executor will have an easier time than a complete unknown.

One final note: when I say “easiest idea to execute” I mean: for you personally. This is another way to narrow down your list of ideas. In a best case scenario, your idea should relate to a problem you have, that you would pay money to whoever solved it for the solution to it. If you have expertise in the problem, you’ll be much better at solving it. If you have to use your solution to actually solve the problem you’re facing, you’ll be able to iterate on the solution faster. That will make your solution better, and more likely to make money from people like you who are facing the same problem. This is also why you should usually try to make something better, not make something new.

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