One of the most annyoing things about business school were my many classmates that had "an idea for a start-up" that never did anything to realistically pursue the idea. Many of these classmates were just poseurs. Others had personal constraints (family, fear, debt, etc.) that precluded them from taking the first step - which is perfectly understandable.
I think that the underlying problem for a lot of these people and - quite frankly - most business people with an "idea" is that they don't know how to take the first step.
Turns out that most business folk don't know that ideas are worthless...and that getting from "idea" to "product" requires incredible amounts of work, thought, patience, etc. Getting from "product" to "company" is about 10X as difficult.
Too many that think that the first step is writing a business plan and then hiring some contract developers. Too few realize that the correct first step is a technical co-founder.
I sent this article by David Albert - An Open Letter to Business People - to some of the entrepreneurial faculty at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School with the hope that they would share it with every MBA student with an idea that "just needs a developer":
So you have an idea for a startup? Awesome! The world needs more people like you. You're going to have to start by finding a technical cofounder. This is hard because you're not a programmer, so I'm going to teach you how to do it.
You'll notice I said "technical cofounder" and not "developer." That's important. If you decide to pay someone a few thousand dollars for a web app made to your specifications, you will probably fail. Why? Because your idea is not very good yet. You're going to have to iterate a whole bunch of times before your idea succeeds. You need someone who's going to be in it for a long haul. You need a technical cofounder.
I posted this today because my friend Patrick Vernon sent me the following email:
By the way, I can’t tell you how often I share this article. I’m forwarding it again this morning to a former student with a “great idea.” :)