Be compelling, not Genius
A lot of times, you would have this pure genius idea that you know no one else has thought of (hmm, not sure about that). This is something that can blow the world away. Honestly, you have no clue if this genius idea would work or not, but it’s really awesome, and it would be SO amazing if it worked.
On the other hand, there are some ideas or solutions that you know is pretty compelling, but not as “sexy”. I would say, if this is your first project/startup, focus on the compelling one.
A lesson from the birth of Viralogy.com
So when we were conceptualizing Viralogy.com in December 2008, we were stuck between 2 ideas: one that was “genius”, innovative, and fun, but somewhat shaky. The other one was more “compelling” but not as mind-blowing. I mean, a Social Media Rank is cool and meets a big demand in the social mediasphere, but it’s not like the newest patented technology that will lead an undiscovered industry for the next two decades. It’s simply something that is needed, and no one else is doing it.
We all wanted to do the genius and exciting project, but it was also pretty shaky. There were too many possible scenarios that it didn’t work out. It was a brilliant way to coorindate many moving parts together to create value for all sides and make money. However, with so many moving parts, the stars have to align for all of that to continuously work out without any trouble.
If this is your first project, choose the compelling project, and put your genius into that
Finally, we decided that the genius project was too shaky, and don’t want to work for 3 years and have everything fall apart. We then picked the more compelling one. However, at that point, we didn’t know if this compelling one could make money. We then put in some of our creative juices and then came up with something cool that could make money (That actually wasn’t compelling and we switched away a bit afterward). We also put in a lot of work to make sure that this “compelling” idea is fun, exciting, and even sometimes sexy. And that is the birth of Viralogy.com.
To prove a point, within our first month of official launch, we garnered around 20,000 unique visitors, 30% of them from Direct Traffic. Three months into the project, we’ve developed a strong brand name, achieved a Pagerank of 5 (for Viralogy.com/blog), obtained over 100,000 blogs with 1.2M blog calls, and solid traffic. We got to this point because unlike many other “innovative” startups, we were compelling, and we used our creativity to push it through.
Trust me, even if you think something is compelling, there’s still going to be so many variables that get in your way that require your brilliance to solve. For the same reasons, Good to Great tells you to do what you are the best at in the world, not what’s the coolest or most popular.
If this is your first project, pick the compelling solution, use your genius within that, and build a foundation/reputation that can support your other brilliant ideas.