Zoe’s New Business Idea (and the 99% problem)

Raz and RoZo at Ikea discussing start-ups at lunch
Raz and RoZo at Ikea discussing start-ups at lunch

Some people think the magic to a successful business is all in the idea. Of course a good idea matters. Ideally it’s one you’re passionate about. But there are no shortage of good ideas–and probably close-to-identical ones that came before yours.

After the idea, you’re less than 1% of the way there.

The other 99% of the “problem”? Focus and execution. 

Unexpectedly, I had a funny reminder of this today when talking with Zoe, my nine year old daughter. The conversation started over lunch at Ikea and we finished up as we sat on the couch on the patio soaking up the California sun (I know, New Englanders, that was so wrong). Zoe has no shortage of ideas, and by nature is very entrepreneurial, wildly creative, super smart, and when she’s “in the zone” an insanely hard worker…

And at times she’s also a little unfocused. 🙂

Today, the discussion was around her three business ideas, and they are as follows: a) a make up company; b) a clothing company with her own designs; c) being a kids clothing model.

So we’re talking this through and she’s pitching me on each of them and I’m throwing out questions like “How would you sell this?” or “Why would a customer buy your product vs. someone else’s?” and she’s rebutting each of them pretty well, and I continue to ask questions to help her think her way to the answers.

At one point we’re talking about what would make the clothing line unique, and she says “Yeah, well here’s what would be different. I’d make all my clothes for kids my age and older, but the design focus would be all chic. (which she says with total flair and expressive hand gestures). Do you know what that word chic means when I say that? Are you understanding me when I say it like that?”

Uhmmm, yeah, Zoe, I got that. I know what chic means. 😉

(side note: at the end there’s a funny twist to this…)Zoe

As we wind down the conversation she asks me “So what do you think is the best idea for me?” And I just say “Zoe, they’re all great. Here’s my suggestion: pick the one you love, and go all in on it. Do you know what I mean by going all in?” And she responds, “Yeah, I get it. You’re saying focus on one and put all my time and energy there and don’t try to do everything because it’s so hard to do.”

For 5-seconds there’s a pause, and so I’m waiting for her to tell me whether she’s going to pursue make up, clothing, or modeling and she looks at me and says:

“Dad, I understand everything you said. Which is EXACTLY why I want to create a weekly fashion magazine!”

She immediately interjects my moderately-expressive response and says “Okay dad, wait just check this out…here’s what it’s going to be, I’ve been thinking about this for a while…” And she goes onto passionately pitch the idea.

Inside, I’m dying laughing. Because it’s such the temptation we all face–to dabble in lots of ideas. Yet, the success comes in picking the few right things and executing really well.

As it turns out, the weekly fashion magazine is now my favorite idea and I’m bidding on the URL she wants. But here’s the funny twist at the end…

So my nine-year-old asked me if I knew what “chic” meant, and you can envision me rolling my eyes right after she asked. The irony is later that day, I was two seconds away from buying a MISSPELLED URL with the word spelled “sheikh” instead of “chic”! Which, would’ve been bad, because I don’t think her fashion magazine target audience is the patriarch of a middle eastern tribe or family…

Though, if she really executed against it, there’s probably a market for that segment as well…

Grand mufti Al-Asheikh prays during funeral of Saudi woman and daughter who were killed in Chad


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