I was most interested in his answer to the first question of “If you were to offer advice to a beginning entrepreneur, what would it be?” He answered:
First, don’t obsess on finding the “great idea.” In fact, our research shows a somewhat negative correlation between pioneering a great idea and building a great company. Many of the greatest started with either no great idea or even failed ideas.
Sony (Charts) started with a failed rice cooker. Marriott (Charts) started as a single root beer stand. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard’s great idea was simply to work together – two best friends who trusted
each other – while their first four products failed to get the company out of the garage.
They followed the “first who” approach to
entrepreneurship: First figure out your partners, then figure out what ideas to pursue. The most important thing isn’t the market you target, the product you develop or the financing, but the founding team.
Starting a company is like scaling an unclimbed face – you don’t know what the mountain will throw at you, so you must pick the right partners, who share your values, on whom you can depend, and who can adapt.
I’ll admit that I get stuck on finding the “great idea,” even though I’ve always believed what Jim said above. This idea really made sense to me after listening to a Venture Voice podcast last year about the founding of Paypal. While I think it is definitely important to have an idea or even more importantly a mission (such as Google’s “organizing the world’s information”) to bring together a team on, it is even more necessary to have a good founding team to begin with. I believe regardless of the idea, a good team will always be able to create success sooner or later.
I’m working on that team.