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.
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9 thoughts on “Be Compelling, not Genius”
haha, maybe a few seconds? I just edited it for humor 🙂
Very nice stats!
I think you bring up a very good point. Seems like most people not familiar with starting businesses have an all-or-nothing view. I know I did/still do with some of the ideas running around in my head. It’s like placing a recent college student as CEO of a Fortune 100 company: they are probably going to run the company to the ground. Doesn’t mean they will be forever incapable of doing that, but they learn a lot more along the way when they move slower.
Thanks for the reminder to slow down a little!
Was the genius idea you referred to FDCareer?
Oh hey Johann!
No, FDCareer we actually executed, did well until the economy crashed and we didn’t have the right market anymore.
The two options we were thinking about was what to do after FDCareer 😀
How are you? 🙂
I see… even if it launched at the wrong time, FDCareer was still ahead of its time, so to speak.
Nice video! It’s definitely a problem a lot of new entrepreneurs run into. So many people on one hand have that one brilliant awesome idea that they want to do, but have no means of starting it but it can make money if it works, while on the other hand have a semi-pretty good idea that is more likely to work but aren’t sure how to monetize. Working your magic on the project that is more likely to work/is most compelling makes the most sense in this scenario when you haven’t had your first breakthrough yet, and money is an issue. Then once you’re secure you can start pursuing those riskier projects.
And nice little ending lol, keep up the good work!
Thanks for the encouragement Anthony (particularly the ending 😉 )
I definitely agree with everything you say. If you are already taking huge risks, might as well go with the compelling one 🙂
I love it! Haha. How long did that last part take…looks like you edited it.