There was nothing overwhelmingly brilliant about the idea of creating an online bookstore, but Amazon has become a brilliant company.
Nothing much about broadcasting the audio of sports games over the web was particularly brilliant, but Mark Cuban earned the title of “brilliant” after creating and selling Broadcast.com to Yahoo for $5.7 billion.
And the idea of cutting out computer salesmen and selling PC parts directly to consumers at a better price wasn’t unbelievably, jawdroppingly brilliant either. But still, Dell surpassed $6 million in revenue during its first year in operation. That’s brilliant.
But what makes an idea brilliant?
What makes a business idea a brilliant idea?
The thing that makes a business idea brilliant is the result.
In other words, a business idea that doesn’t work isn’t brilliant, no matter how much potential it had at the outset. Brilliance is a title given to companies that achieve brilliance, not to one that hasn’t built anything at all.
The execution makes an idea brilliant. The entrepreneur makes the idea brilliant. The company as a whole makes an idea truly brilliant.
So really, there may be fewer brilliant ideas than we think.
Brilliant execution makes an idea brilliant.
I just read that Elon Musk–who might actually be a technical genius–has reportedly launched a company dedicated to connecting the human mind to computers without any physical connections.
While that idea has a large wow factor and sparks a lot of fun and crazy thoughts about its potential, it’s not truly a brilliant idea, is it?
People have been imagining the possibility of downloading thoughts to a computer ever since we’ve been able to download other things to a computer. Going even further back, people have longed for the day when our minds could control outside objects. Both are enticing ideas. Neither are brilliant.
What would make this a brilliant idea is if it worked.
Brilliance as a barrier.
Have you ever talked with someone who hasn’t started their entrepreneurial journey because they haven’t found the next brilliant idea?
I’ve talked with maybe one or two. However, I’ve talked with more people who go out of their way to put other’s ideas down for not being brilliant.
I met one such person just last week.
He bragged about a time when he was on a panel for a pitch competition. According to him, he was the only person willing to tell the startups that their ideas were stupid. While he wore that as a badge of honor, I saw his perspective as a way to protect his own insecurities.
He’s not Jeff Bezos from Amazon. He’s not Mark Cuban. And he’s not Mike Dell. Actually, it might not even matter if he were those people, because even those business icons get it wrong.
Brilliance is most often a barrier when someone else doesn’t think it’s brilliant.
But they don’t matter, so don’t let them matter.
Instead of searching for a brilliant idea, search for another type of idea.
Search for average ideas, then focus on brilliant execution.
An average idea is to have people use their own vehicles to give strangers rides. That used to be called hitchhiking. However, Uber and Lyft are executing brilliantly.
The quickest way to a brilliant idea is to execute any idea brilliantly.
Look around. Do you see any pretty average ideas laying around?
Be unafraid to pick one up and execute.
Brilliantly, of course.
Photo: Flickr/mer chau