Whenever I start a new project, it always starts with excitement. New ideas are always exciting because as ideas, they seem perfect and carry with them the promise of learning new things. That excitement lasts right up until I finish the first working prototype and have enjoyed the glow of having built something new. Then reality sets in and I do a Google search for similar projects only to find…
It’s already been done before.
Or, at least something very similar. Seeing that my idea was not, in fact, novel is always disappointing. Or worse, I see that others have not only had the same idea but spent much more time working on it is even more disheartening. This cycle repeats for literally every project I’ve ever done, yet I keep working on these projects and also having new ideas and starting new projects. Why?
Everything has been done before.
It’s true that there are some areas of physics where new things are being done. There are biologists who discover new species and new archaeological sites unearthed. But these are at the cutting edge of science today and happen very rarely. In the world of product development, there are few unique ideas. Even if your idea is novel, it is likely that someone, somewhere else has the same idea. That should not stop you, however.
What matters is not the idea but the execution.
Anything can be improved upon, and that’s your opening. Google did not invent the search engine; they made it better. Facebook did not invent the social network; they made it better. Uber did not invent the car service; they made it better. For each of those companies, not only did they not invent a new kind of product, they were not the only ones trying to improve on existing products at the time they got started. What they did was act on the idea better than anyone else.
While others may have the same idea, can they match your focus? Can they match your passion? Can they match your work ethic? Having an idea is cheap, what you do with your idea is what gives it value. If you believe in your idea, make it impossible for others with the same idea to compete with you by being the best at turning that idea into reality.
So, who cares if everything has been done before? Anything can be improved. That’s where you come in.
This article was originally published at Sean on Startups, a blog about starting and growing companies.
Image Credit: CC by Will Hastings