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A Lesson From The Social Network

The Social Network PosterI recently saw The Social Network, which is the story of how Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook. The movie has a number of valuable lessons for entrepreneurs but I think the most poignant one involves Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra. They had allegedly hired Zuckerberg to finish work on the HarvardConnection, a social network for Harvard students. He agreed to do the work but prioritized his efforts towards building The Facebook. The Winklevoss twins and Narenda later sued Zuckerberg and Facebook, saying he had stolen their idea.

I think this illustrates the point that often made by venture capitalists; that having a good idea is not enough. Implementing the idea is everything. The partners had been working on the HarvardConnect concept for two years by the time they hired Zuckerberg. They had hired a series of students to build the site because none of the partners had programming skills. Building the site was important but not the first priority for any of them. In contrast, Zuckerberg built The Facebook in less than a month. Whether he stole the idea or not, he made it a reality very quickly.

There are many people out there with good ideas but for one reason or another they aren’t able to bring them to life. I think this ability is one of the key things that separates entrepreneurs from the rest of the population. Entrepreneurs will make the effort and take the risk to implement their vision. There are many people out there who would make good entrepreneurs if they could just get started. They need some of the initial barriers to entry lowered so that taking the first step doesn’t seem so scary.

If you’re a budding entrepreneur I encourage you to take the first step. Doing some research and analysis about your idea doesn’t have to cost a fortune and the risk is minimal. Why not take that first step and investigate whether your idea could be turned into a business? As venture capitalist Mark Suster says, JFDI.