There was a nice post Saturday called I had that idea years ago! on the 37 Signals blog.

For those who don’t know 37 Signals, it’s a very nice, simple, collaborative project-management site, one that several of us in Palo Alto Software use and admire.

This value-of-the-idea theme is pretty much old hat on this blog, but I liked the way the blog put it, so here’s what it said:

So somebody else built a successful business on that idea you had three years ago. What does that mean? That if you would just have pursued that idea, you would now automatically be enjoying their spoils? Sorry to burst your bubble, but I really don’t think so.

Ideas on their own are just not that important. It’s incredibly rare that someone comes up with an idea so unique, so protectable, that the success story writes itself. Most ideas are nothing without execution.

Just because you thought of a site to share photos with friends wouldn’t have made you Flickr.

But I can see how fooling yourself into thinking otherwise is attractive. When someone else is having success with an idea similar to yours, it’s almost like you’re having that success, if only you would have pulled the trigger on it. It inflates the sense that your brilliant idea really was brilliant and that success was just a binary switch away (pursue/don’t).

On the other hand, it means that you don’t need divine inspiration to start a successful business. Doing well is not restricted only to those who can have paradigm-shifting ideas. You just need to do it better, or actually merely even good enough, to please enough paying customers that income can exceed expense and you’re off to a great start.

You’re probably too young to wear nostalgia gracefully, anyway.”

Well said. Just another point of view, but still, worth noting.

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Tim BerryTim Berry
Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.