Ideas Or Execution, What's More Important?
Coming to you straight from the SERPWoo Studios. I'm your host, Jason Brown, the co-founder of SERPWoo. And in today's podcast episode, we touch on the hot button of what's more important, the idea or the execution.
Now, before we get into this topic, I just want to make very clear, this isn't an us-versus-them discussion. There's no need to get upset, to cause controversy and drama if you agree with me or you disagree with me. This is simply how I see it and touches on decades worth of experience in business, in marketing, in creating products and helping companies reach millions of dollars in revenue, even billions of dollars in one industry that I participated in.
Before we actually get into the meat and potatoes, I just want you to know, this is my opinion. This is how I see things and I'm going to back that up with several examples. Does that mean that I'm right in 100% of the cases? Does that mean I'm right in your particular case or your scenario? No, it does not. But I think for the majority of the time, if you actually listen to and understand what I'm getting ready to say, I don't think anybody is going to be offended or hurt or feel like they have to argue with me. I just want to make that perfectly clear before we get into the podcast and I tell you about what I've learned and what I think just so that you know that going into it.
When I think about ideas versus execution, I lean heavily that ideas are more important than execution. Now, when I say that, I don't mean that there's no execution involved at all and that the idea will make you tons of money although it actually can. There is some execution that is needed for every idea. However, what's more important when it comes to the idea versus the execution, in my opinion, the idea is a lot more important than execution.
One of the reasons why I think that is, if you have a weak idea but strong execution, you're only going to get so far. Weak ideas generally are not scalable. You don't have control with weak ideas. There's inherently a lot of problems with weak ideas that are executed successfully or executed strongly. If I take the case of internet marketing and I have this idea that I want to build the next AdSense site and I execute that perfectly with excellent content, excellent promotion, excellent management, I'm only going to get so far with an ad word site.
At some point, I'm not going to have the quality that's needed, the brand that's needed in most cases in an AdWords website. There's only going to be so much money that I can generate in an AdSense website. Yes, can that money be a large amount? Of course, it can. There's people that make hundreds of thousands of dollars with AdSense websites but at the core idea, that is a weak idea. The only way that you're going to make more money is to transition into something else away from that idea or to exit in sale that asset in order to generate more money.
Stronger idea might have been to create a software as a service website and even within that idea itself, it might be pretty weak because then you have to define what that software as a service is in order to make that be a great idea. But even if you execute perfectly on a weak idea, you have limitations. You have a ceiling.
Another reason why I think an idea is more important than execution is that an idea gives me more options. And I'm the type of person that love options. I love flexibility. The idea, especially a great idea, I can take it at that form and I'm going to have very little execution, and I can sell the license to that idea. The royalty to that idea. I can actually sell and license that idea to another company.
Stephen King ... Key, I'm sorry. Not Stephen King. Stephen Key is an author that talks about this in his book about licensing your ideas to larger companies. If I'm executing all day long, and I don't have any ideas, I can't license that. I'm having to execute which means I'm having to essentially trade my time for money whether I'm executing in an hourly position or contract, or I'm executing at a flat rate for maybe a project.
Execution is about my time or possibly somebody else's time, the actual output of that time either of myself or of my team. In essence, I'm still trading time for money when I just execute. When you're in the idea phase, you can actually make money by not trading time, and you can take your ideas if they're great ideas and license them to other companies and sell them to other companies. You can also take your idea and you can bring on people to build your idea for you, like Steve Jobs had this idea for Apple and for Pixar and then that idea is sold to other people and investors come on and then employees come on who went to execute on that idea and live that idea and grow that idea.
Even in our political culture, you have ideas that people get behind and they donate money to. Democrats, Republicans, the Green Party, Libertarians, those are ideas. And you have ideas that change and shape human nature and the course of mankind know the idea that all men are created equal and the civil rights movement and the ideas behind that. And now, we've got ideas such as preserving nature and saving elephants. Ideas are actually moving people and taking people somewhere, and they're creating money, and they're creating change, and they're creating results.
Execution by itself doesn't really do that. Sure, you've got to be able to execute and build the laptop if you're Apple. You've got to produce the movie if you're Pixar. You've actually got to go out and inform people if you're Greenpeace or if you're in the Republican Party or Democrat Party. You have to actually have people who work to do that, but as the idea generator, you can actually have other people perform that for you if your idea is great.
This is part of the reason why I think ideas are more important than execution because execution isn't just something you have to do and you have to control. You can have other people do that for you. A company where you're producing great ideas, you can have other people execute. If you have a weak idea and lots of people execute perfect for you, that idea in your company and your product has a ceiling because weak ideas don't always sell.
But if you have a great idea and you have a team that halfway executes or executes poorly, you can always get rid of that team and bring in a new team. This happens all the time. This is how you see turnarounds with companies like Coca-Cola or Dodge or companies even like Apple after Steve Jobs left and then came back. Ideas actually make companies more profitable. They actually change and they're change agents. You can make money with your idea even if you don't have execution just like with my example of licensing.
If you have a great idea but weak execution, you can change yourself, but more importantly, you can change the team you have, fire everybody and hire on A-list players and then they can execute. However, those A-list players can execute on a weak idea and you're going to get nowhere. I see tons of companies, I've actually been a part of one that have weak ideas and they go on Shark Tank, or they have an investor and they convinced this investor to invest in them and two or three years later, they're nowhere because the idea is horrible, but they've got an A-list player on there. They've got a celebrity from Shark Tank who has been on QVC and help them on QVC, or they've been in real estate and can help them in real estate. Even these celebrity investors and A-list players cannot help the company and they failed two to three years later because the idea is weak itself.
Now, usually, I get a lot of people who want to disagree with me and tell me why execution is far better, that ideas are a dime a dozen and that it's all in the execution, that a well-made plan company is 1% idea and 99% execution. It's just totally false. The people that tell you it's all about execution, largely in my experience, have been people who have never had a great idea.
Now, they might think they have a great idea or they might think they have an okay idea and they put a lot of execution into it, a lot of trial and error and then, they were somewhat successful, but really what's successful? What's successful to them compared to what's successful for me? The same thing is true for what's a good idea for you versus what's a good idea for me.
But generally, the people that tell you that ideas are a dime a dozen are people that have never had a great idea. They've either been a part of another company, say like PayPal where they didn't actually come up with a concept of PayPal or the concept of Facebook. They just happen to be an early investor into it or an early C-level management or VP into that company, and they help grow it. But the idea was not theirs. They just happen to be at a good place at the right time on somebody else's great idea, and they were able to help get that company into a billion dollar valuation and position and then cash out all their equity and then go start other companies with this large sum money.
Well, I can tell you this. If I have a war chest of money and I have bad ideas, I can, after a couple of years of spending millions and millions and millions of dollars on it, make it be profitable too. But what I'm trying to come to you and say is that a lot of these people that talked about execution, they've never genuinely had a great revolutionary idea of their own. Therefore, they don't know how life-changing a great idea actually is or how important it is to a business.
If they have ever came up with a great idea and then had it stolen or copied or mimic, they would know what I'm talking about and they would see the actual importance of that idea itself that this idea actually changes something or revolutionizes something or, if even executed poorly, could still generate billions of dollars. Again, it's the weak ideas no matter if they're executed poorly or executed perfectly that have a ceiling, that have a cap, can you still make lots of money with a weak idea and excellent execution? Yes, you can. Can you make money with a great idea with poor execution? Yes, you can because you can either change the people that execute for you or you can change how you execute yourself and your plan of execution.
You can always learn how to execute better. Case in point: Us as digital marketers, we all started out not knowing what SEO is or title tag or a meta tag, or how to purchase ads on Facebook or on LinkedIn, or how to write great content. We evolved into that though. Our execution gets better as we mature and learn. That's not necessarily true for ideas. If you're not able to come up with good ideas, you're not going to just magically have that power in five years from now or 10 years from now. You've got to execute, again, execute on the idea at least to be able to say, "This is a good idea. This is a bad idea. This is a bad idea. This is a good idea. Now, I'm coming up with great ideas."
Just like with execution, you're going to get better as you go. You're going to get better in your skillset to execute and you can get better by hiring new A-list players to your team or changing out your whole team. The fact is you can learn how to execute better. You do not necessarily learn how to come up with great ideas. You don't necessarily learn to just have great ideas fall into your lap. A lot of the times, you have to be able to have domain experience and be able to be in a field to be able to look for these great ideas.
Now, you can still come up with marginally good ideas, and execute on those and make a ton of money. It's the great ideas though that are revolutionary, that are game-changing, that are groundbreaking even if they have poor execution because at least with poor execution, you can always get better execution either by maturing or learning on your own or hiring in new people or finding ways to be able to execute better. You cannot always find ways to have a better idea.
Now, let's look at investors like people on Shark Tank. Now, I know a lot of you all watch Shark Tank or at least know of Shark Tank and have seen an episode. A lot of you are going to say that these people are the same people that tell you it's all about execution. Well, I'm telling you that's a lie. Just like the government and the school system and society pushed ideas on me and they were widely accepted, and experts pushed those. It doesn't mean they were actually correct.
You got these investors that talk all about execution, execution, execution and they cram it down their throat. But what do they actually do mean on their show, on Shark Tank, or what do they actually do mean when they talk to companies they want to invest in? They're asking questions like, "Do you have a patent?" "How much have you sold? What's your revenue? What am I going to get out of it? Is there anybody else doing this?" You might say to yourself, "That's execution, that's execution, that's execution," I'm looking at it as ideas.
You cannot patent execution. You patent ideas. Most of these investors on Shark Tanks and on other shows and investors out in the real world, they want to see a patent. Why? Because that patent protects and gives an advantage moat to that company. The patent comes from an idea and these investors asked about competition. Well, what does the competition look like? Is there other people making money in this? What's your competition? Who are they? What are they doing? What makes you special? What makes you stand out? That special and stand out against your competition, that's an idea.
You had to have a benefit, a feature that has a great benefit and that comes from an idea not from execution. What gives you your valued proposition that's different from your competitors, that's the idea behind your service. That's not execution. You cannot out execute to have a unique valued proposition. Now, a company like Zappos, you might say, "Well, they have excellent customer service. I know that's execution." Well, that's also an idea. The idea behind that is excellent customer service. There's tons of things that actually make Zappos stand out is not just their customer service but behind the root of that is an idea.
Granted, yes, you do that to be able to execute it with the team member, but again, somebody can be trained to execute at a top level. You can't necessarily train somebody to have a great idea to be able to use that as your unique advantage or your value proposition or your advantage moat over a competitor. We've got what's your unique advantage over a competitor. We've got VIP. We've got ... Do you even have competitors? Is this some market making money? Well, you cannot just market execution. You market an idea and that idea is either your service or your product or what makes you stand out. Even within your field in order to have competitors, you are competing on an idea, not on execution.
Now, of course, the sharks are going to want to see if you've made money, if you're profitable, that is going to be execution. You are not just going to automatically create this company and make tons of money just on an idea unless you're licensing but you're going to have to execute on sales. Well, to me, that's a no-brainer. These sharks and these investors want all of the upside and all of the positives. Yes, they want something that is a great idea and great execution before they put their money into it because they're looking for a return. Who doesn't want all of the upside in a transaction like that?
But if somebody were to walk in and they have all these executions but no intellectual property, they had no advantage moat or unique advantage against their competitors even if they didn't even have competitors. That would bring up some questions and all of that is based around an idea, not execution. Now, I'm telling you all of these. I'm not trying to take away from execution. I'm not trying to take away from people who aren't creative and don't have a great idea. Execution definitely has its place.
If I were to come up with a great idea, yes, I could go license it, but I have to execute that. I have to be able to talk to who am I going to potentially have licensees. I have to talk to them and get license. I have to sell my idea to these larger companies. There is some execution there. But let's say I have this great idea and let's call it, the Snuggie blanket. Now, I've got this great idea to have this blanket that have sleeves in it and I'm trying to execute and sell to these larger companies and license that idea out. I'm doing to piss poor at it. I'm not good at Facebook. I'm not good at calling the companies and getting past the gatekeeper. I'm not good at landing that first meeting. I'm not good at once I get to the meeting, convincing them to take on my Snuggie blanket idea.
The difference is I can take some money and have somebody train me how to do that and then I can mature and make my execution better. On a second thought, I could take some money and hire somebody just to inform me as a representative of my company. Maybe it's an attorney. Maybe it's a salesperson. Maybe it's a distributor who has more contacts than I do, who has those personal relationships, who can get me into those meetings and tell me what I need to say or just do it for me. Instead of paying them, I could just make them a partner and now, I don't pay them at all. They just take a percentage of what we successfully sell out as licenses and in distributorship deals and so on and so on.
That right there is me using execution, but only using it when I have a great idea. If you do not have a great idea and you've got a weak idea and you partner up with the right person or you pay the right person to go into these companies that has these relationships, these are the companies who are just going to be like, "This idea sucks. This idea does not resonate with our user base. There's actually already three products like this out there. Why should we take yours? What's uniquely beneficial to the end-user if we take on your product?"
A weak idea is not going to get that deal. You've got to have a great idea and then you can actually grow your execution if you're not good at executing by either hiring somebody or learning and maturing or partner with somebody who can actually do that for you. It might take a couple of years but your great idea will outlive that as long as you have the tenacity to keep on and keep on and keep on and maturing your skills and getting better in your execution and getting people to execute for you.
Essentially, what I'm trying to say is, here at the end of the podcast, is that you can outsource execution. Does it mean that you're going to get it right? No, it doesn't. You have to have people who can execute for you if you outsource that. However, can any of you all tell me where you can outsource great ideas? You can't. It's the dreamers, the revolutionaries, the creatives who are having these great ideas and they dare to bring them out and they risk everything they are to bring them out into the public. Then, they can either execute on it and mature on their execution and get better at it later or they can outsource that execution in the form of employees or team members or partners. You can't form out the great idea.
That's why to me, ideas are more important than execution because I can always find somebody to execute and I might get it wrong the first time. I might get it wrong the second time. It might take me five years to get the execution right. But if I spend five years getting the execution right on a weak idea, I'm going to be extremely angry and sad and depressed about that because I'm going to have a ceiling. I'm going to have a cap and more than likely, my weak idea is going to be rejected. If I have a great idea though, that's going to push me even if it takes years and I can outsource the execution and still come out on top.
Hopefully, I gave some of you all some insight into my thinking and why I believe that ideas are more important than execution. Again, this isn't a podcast that calls controversy. I hope that by giving you some insight into the way that I think and the way that I do things, maybe it actually wins one of you all over to the idea side away from execution because the large majority of the world today really feels and believes it's all about execution and execution and that's true.
That's true if you want to trade your time away for money. When you want to cross over to the other side though and make money passively and have more options and more freedom to do things, that's definitely on the idea side because you can always form out that execution or learn it yourself and get better. Ultimately, this podcast really isn't about ideas and execution. The focus that I hope you take away from this is don't listen to everybody else. Everybody is chanting execution, execution, execution. They're chanting a lot of other things too.
I want you to be able to reach inside, make your own connections to the belief systems that you have by relying on your experience, by being able to ask the right questions and to be able to be comfortable with going against the grain and going against what other people will tell you even if they're celebrities or so-called gurus who are successful and they have a lot of money and they're spitting out it's all about the execution and execution.
Most of those people, they didn't execute either. They ride on somebody else's great idea and they outsourced the execution to somebody else. They're just riding on somebody else's great idea or they had the great idea themselves and they outsource the execution and then they come back and try to tell you it's all about execution, execution, execution because if they tell you it's all about the ideas, they probably lose half their workforce.
Again, I'm Jason Brown, your host and the co-founder of SERPWoo. If you've got any comments, suggestions or ideas, leave them below. I'll get back to you next week. Thanks.
Jason Brown is the Co-Founder of SERPWoo as well as a serial entreprenuer, digital marketer, web programmer, author, speaker, & mentor
At some point, he would like the bigger companies in his space to stop trying to steal his and his partners concepts and ideas and have them innovate on their own instead.