I’ve been ranting all week about the latest radio advert from Invest Northern Ireland. They’ve been spending a lot of money over the last few months encouraging people to start their own businesses. Most of these are terrible, but the latest one irritates me more than the rest. The basic premise is that you shouldn’t keep putting things off – especially starting a business. If you leave it another year someone else may come up with your idea and then it’ll be too late.
When I used to be invited to give talks to people thinking of starting up their own business I used to encounter people who wouldn’t even tell the course organiser what their idea was for fear of it being stolen. I always told these people that if they expected to succeed purely on the strength of an idea they should just go home, because making a successful business was much more about the strength of the execution than the strength of the idea. For some reason this never seemed to go down well. And now I find that INI are promoting this nonsense in a major radio campaign!
In 1967, an angel investor, Fred Adler, received over 50 business plans for entrepreneurs who proposed to start microcomputer firms. Only one of the teams presenting this idea ever made it. Its name was Data General. But why did so many entrepreneurs pitching a plan to sell microcomputers either never receive funding or if they were funded, never succeed? They didn’t make it not because the idea was per se bad or didn’t have the potential to be a good opportunity. It was a great idea and enormous opportunity. Rather, it was because the other entrepreneurial teams were unable to execute.