I thought of it first

Ed. Note: From the legendary Signal v. Noise blog comes this nugget of insight from the members of Chicago-based 37 Signals (readers of this blog already know how I feel about 37 Signals) : you’re not nearly as smart as you think. Wow .. it’s like they know me.

37 Signals

So somebody else built a successful business on that idea you had three years ago. What does that mean? That if you would just have pursued that idea, you would now automatically be enjoying their spoils? Sorry to burst your bubble, but I really don’t think so.

Ideas on their own are just not that important. It’s incredibly rare that someone comes up with an idea so unique, so protectable that the success story writes itself. Most ideas are nothing without execution.

Just because you thought of a site to share photos with friends wouldn’t have made you Flickr.

But I can see how fooling yourself into thinking otherwise is attractive. When someone else is having success with an idea similar to yours, it’s almost like you’re having that success, if only you would have pulled the trigger on it. It inflates the sense that your brilliant idea really was brilliant and that success was just a binary switch away (pursue/don’t).

On the other hand, it means that you don’t need divine inspiration to start a successful business. Doing well is not restricted only to those who can have paradigm-shifting ideas. You just need to do it better, or actually merely even good enough, to please enough paying customers that income can exceed expense and you’re off to a great start.

You’re probably too young to wear nostalgia gracefully, anyway.

One response to “I thought of it first

  1. The one common factor most overlook is timing. Concepts having value are generally not determined until $$$ hit the table.

    Being the first does not guarantee success. Most products or services need competition too reveal itself. Other wise buyers tend to wait, they have nothing to compare. Today, ad dollars needed to create a market is rising. Which limits many start-ups.

    The author here (Mazy) has been ahead of the curve on numerous projects. Unfortunately, his target audience is still in first gear.

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