man at desk thinking of idea for start up

If It’s Such a Great Idea, Why Isn’t It Already Being Done?

You’ve got this great startup idea and you are sharing it and getting feedback but then someone asks “If it’s such a good idea, why isn’t someone else already doing it?” You pause. Makes sense. It’s a great idea. There must be some problem, some hurdle you can’t overcome. Is this REALLY a great startup idea? Will it make a great business? If it really were such a great idea, surely someone would already be doing this, right? Wrong. At least, oftentimes wrong. It’s always tempting to think all the great startup ideas are taken or that they should be. But, that’s simply not the case.

Think About All the Amazing Ideas from the Last 100 Years

Charles H. Duell, the Commissioner of the US patent office in 1899, is said to have stated “everything that can be invented has been invented.” Obviously, there were some interesting inventions yet to come, including the automobile, airplane, Internet, Sunday Night Football …

There is so much more to come. What all future, yet-to-be created ideas and inventions have in common is that no one is doing them today. When the automobile was invented, there wasn’t one. Before the Internet, there was no Internet. Great ideas make great startups and there are plenty of them out there still.

Everyone Else is Busy With Other Ideas

There are plenty of great startup ideas that aren’t already being done. Do you know anyone sitting around with piles of money and a broad skill set, just waiting for an idea? No. People are busy. They’re busy focusing on their current businesses and ideas. Even when great ideas occur to them, most people and businesses are already overwhelmed with what’s on their plate. So, great startup ideas get passed by all the time.

The question, “why isn’t someone else already doing it” is useful. It’s useful to look at whether or not there is possibly something you are missing. But, do NOT let it stop you from pushing forward.

Maybe there is a regulation or law preventing your startup business idea, etc. But if it’s just not being done then don’t get sidetracked by the fact that no one else is doing it.

A Great Joke About 2 Economists

So is this true? Is that how entrepreneurs base their decision on whether a business idea is good or not? This reminds me of a joke I heard years ago about 2 economists walking across campus, one spots a $20 bill and bends down to pick it up and the other one grabs him and says “don’t bother, if it was really a $20 bill someone would have picked it up already.” The point is that is how economists think and that is how we are trained in school to think.

So when you come up with a new startup idea or something exciting that can change the world, maybe it’s not even a business, it’s a solution to a vexing societal problem, it may turn out to be really your best idea and the fact that no one else is doing it should not matter. And the fact is the majority of the time the reason someone has not already launched your great business idea is they are already busy doing other things.

But is it fair to ask the question, why isn’t someone else doing it? Yes it is ok to ask but only to ask yourself “have I really missed something critical?”

That’s exactly how every great idea starts! Just remember when you find that idea, to fine tune it and make it clear and focused.