Why a Team is Worth a lot more than an Idea

September 13, 2007 — Every successful person in the startup world will tell you that the most important part of any startup is the team. From my own experiences, I wholeheartedly agree. But everyday I talk to people who think the most important thing is the idea. For instance, I just met a nice young woman at Logan Airport. She was wearing a well-pressed white blouse and grey skirt, dressed to impressed for her job at a prominent Boston-based health care consulting firm. We started talking about Facebook, and she repeated something I’ve heard at least a dozen times “[Zuckerberg] is going to make so much money. Facebook was such a simple idea. I wish I had thought of that.” I smiled and agreed pleasantly while trying hard not to roll my eyes.

Facebook is amazing, don’t get me wrong. But it is so much more than one idea. By this point I would say that millions of ideas have gone into Facebook. Thousands have been executed and are part of the site and company; many more have been considered, iterated, and shed. And most importantly, the Facebook team(now at over 300) has spent countless hours engaged in hard at sometimes grueling work. To say that Zuckerberg is going to make a lot of money because of one idea is to ignore 99.9% of the reasons behind Facebook’s success.

I am very skeptical that any one idea–no matter how great–is worth much. Even the “simple, big ideas”, are worth squat on their own.

My philosophy on ideas is this:

So, while most people can identify and easily understand the simple, general, big ideas that are behind successful companies, very few of them see the 99.9% or ideas and hard work that actually lead to these big ideas making money. And very few people have the ability to do more than simply come up with simple, general, big ideas, which I believe are worthless because they are always unrealistic until that 99.9% of the work is done to make them real.

While any one person can come up with a simple, general, big idea, it takes a team of smart, cooperative, hard-working people to do the 99.9% of the idea creation and work that turns that big idea into a money making reality. That’s why the team is so much more important than any idea.

I think the best entrepreneurs are the ones who can build and lead a team to ensure that the 99.9% gets done so that the .1% of the company that is the big idea becomes reality.

Note: I imported this post from my original Wordpress blog.

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