Ideas are worthless, execution is useless, sale is everything

Being a tech guy is a blessing and a curse.

Hundreds of blog posts tell you that “ideas are worthless, execution is everything.” I’ve got news for you. Ideas are just as worthless as execution. If you can’t sell it, it’s all shit. And by selling, I don’t necessarily mean “selling for money.” Even having a free deployment/installation is great.

I have a friend who told me about an idea he had. He observed that queues for all kinds of government institutions – banks, post offices, or anything else – suck. Let’s make something with NFC so you won’t have to take a number and waste time sitting and looking at a screen showing the current number in the queue. After a little analysis, I found that NFC was not the best choice (we lack knowledge,  audience awareness, and faces other technological barriers ) so I decided that QR code would be better. Over coffee, we discussed the prototype I would build.

I developed it over a weekend.

On Monday, I proudly showed my “partner” my prototype. It works like this. You take a QR code scan that takes you to a sign-up page for a certain queue. After the signup, you can see your current position in the queue and will be notified by SMS when it’s your turn. The Queue Manager can send an SMS to a certain person, cancel someone’s place in the queue, or acknowledge that a person has received service.

Everything worked, looked minimalistic and nice (I paid $70 for a design on Now came the moment of truth: my partner had to sell it.

ideas are worthless

ideas are worthless

If you can’t sell it, don’t start developing it

Well, guess what? When it comes to choosing a partner – especially a sales dude – you’d better do your homework and make sure this “partner” can walk the talk. I’ve made this mistake two or three times. It’s a lesson I’m failing to learn: No sale, no code.

When he couldn’t sell this concept, he came up a twist: “Let’s try it with nail studios, beauty salons and hair designers!”

“Great idea, my friend,” I said. “Please sell it to at least one of those customers and I’ll revise the code for your new idea.”

Because sales are everything.

When you dream about your grand idea, you often think about it only to the point where making an actual sale is distant enough to make you feel that you don’t have to worry about it. But trust me: this “next big thing” of yours will encounter exactly the same problem as I did with my “over-the-weekend fun.”

Did  you ever develop tool and then found you can’t or unable to sell? Tell me your story in the comments.



2 thoughts on “Ideas are worthless, execution is useless, sale is everything

  1. Jay says:

    Wow! This is a remarkable and profound message.

    Many of us have tons of idea, but like you stated, if we are unable to sell them they are pretty much worthless.

    I recently learned how valuable of a skill selling is. I honestly used to think it was just a skill for people who were greedy and money hungry.

    I’ve come to learn now that it far surpasses money. It is truly a skill that is required in many aspects of our lives.

    The experience you shared is a great example of just that!

  2. Eli says:

    Yes, it’s a shame that as developers you have to rely on a strong marketing/sales team.

    These days with overflow of apps and information it’s really hard to stand out without a big marketing budget.

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