I wish I had a dollar for every time people said to me “I wish I thought of that” or “I was going to do that” or “Why didn’t I do that?” They are often referring to the RedBalloon idea of experience vouchers. The reality is RedBalloon was not the first experience voucher supplier on the planet, but we sure have carved out a lovely space for ourselves in the crowded gift giving market. When people ask me who are our competitors I respond ‘Myer and David Jones gift cards – in fact, any retail gift cards’. Try having competitors that are big and scary – but they don’t even know you exist.
I ponder this because I was recently asked is it better to have a break through the company (and new idea) or improve on an existing idea.
I don’t believe it is about being the coolest or most innovative product. In fact, there are many examples of great products that never make it. Developing a market for a completely new concept can be very expensive and time-consuming. Then once people are finally educated on why this is such a fabulous innovation someone will come along and copy it. I don’t mean to sound defeatist here – it is more a matter of knowing what you are signing up for. Unless someone innovates we are never going to move the game forward. You have to choose if you want a revolutionary business or an evolutionary one.
In any industry, there are opportunities to break through the way things have always been done and create something new. It is not the idea, however, but the execution that will make it successful. Business success is 1% the idea and 99% execution. Imagine if Google had merely chosen to give every person on the planet access to information instantly – but the servers kept failing.
According to Keith R. McFarland who recently wrote in Inc. Magazine “High-performing companies we looked at had one thing in common – they were almost all run for many, many years by their founders. But these entrepreneurs don’t share a common personality type, and they do not create businesses where there is a focus on the personal characteristics of the entrepreneur.”
As you know I have always talked about the passion for a business idea – you cannot fake it until you make it. But passion must lead to process and ultimately dramatic stability. Only with dramatic stability can you ever have dramatic growth.