Monday 14 October 2019 4:16 am

DEBATE: Are great startups always about having a great idea?

Are great startups always about having a great idea?

Lily Covington, senior strategist at commercial strategy firm Cruxy & Co., says YES.

Marketing guru and Silicon Valley mastermind Guy Kawasaki famously said “ideas are easy, implementation is hard”. But while ideas may be easy, truly great ideas are anything but.

In the fast-paced and saturated world of technology, a great idea means spotting a genuine market need – and being the first to come up with a solution.

Implementation may be hard, but it is the idea that pulls everything together. The idea should be the foundation which your strategy is built on.


Want to democratise insurance or bring investment products to ordinary people? If your pricing strategy and sales process fail to align with this mission, it doesn’t matter how good your implementation is, your business will still struggle.

Without a great idea, even the most solid strategy will be mediocre. You risk your business becoming nothing more than an “execution machine”, following process with no endgame in sight.

There are myriad elements that are crucial for building a great startup. But at the very core, the idea is fundamental.

Nicky Tozer, vice president of EMEA of Oracle NetSuite, says NO.

The world is full of great business ideas, but unfortunately a great idea is not enough.

History is littered with great ideas without a business plan, or great business plans without a team, or great products born too soon or too late or without funding.

If we have learned one thing from working with over 18,000 businesses around the world over the last 21 years, it’s that execution is what matters most. Execution is not always glamorous, but it is what separates a great idea from a successful one. It’s what makes a mission possible. And it’s what makes a brilliant strategy come to life.


So, while a great idea is a good starting point, it is just that: a starting point.

Turning a great idea into a great startup and ultimately a great organisation requires business leaders to get it right consistently and relentlessly on nearly every measure – and in our experience, that requires a ruthless devotion to execution.

Main image credit: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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