I’ve read a great deal about entrepreneurs, and almost everything focuses on that “aha” moment when an idea came to someone and how it then became the driving force that created, changed, revolutionized, or otherwise altered a business segment forever. With all the press this moments gets, the focus on the incredible stroke of genius, it’s natural to assume that the make it or break event in any start up comes with that first thought conception. I’m not so sure. Okay, that was me being polite. I have stronger feelings. I’ll admit it. I’m actually pretty sure that moment is the least of the three most important decisions you can make in a startup.
I’m not suggesting the moment isn’t necessary, just that there are thousands (maybe millions) of brilliant business ideas that never result in a successful company, never change the world, and never alter a business segment at all. History is filled with brilliant ideas that never got to the market. Without the idea, the company can’t exist, but even with the idea there’s just no guarantee the company will succeed. I believe there are three critical choices, and the idea, while critical, isn’t as defining as the first two.
To create any startup, you’ll need to find investors and find partners. You’re stuck with those two decisions. A concept will (and should) adjust as market and production realities impact decision-making. If you have the wrong investors or the wrong partners, the brilliant dream becomes a nightmare. If you secure too little capital or too few human resources, the brilliant dream fades. The idea is important, and it will likely drive your company culture and attitude, but without good decision-making when it comes to the first two decisions, the idea joins the other unrealized dreams in the annals of history.
How about you? Are you looking for the right investors or just any? Are you seeking warm bodies or are you actively seeking partners whose strengths will help support your weaknesses?
Does it seem like I’m telling you not to focus on your core business? That’s not my intention at all. Hang on to your idea. However, in a business environment where most technology startups are going to fail, don’t let your aha moment go to waste. Choose your investors carefully. Choose your partners carefully.