I’ve started and grown several healthcare businesses over the past 25 years--made mistakes, failed and succeeded. And I’ve come to truly appreciate a quote from serial entrepreneur Brewster Kahle: “If you want to solve hard problems, have hard problems.”

Safety and risk-avoidance are easy; making a revolutionary change takes guts. What does it take to win? Start with these three attributes.

Genuine innovation

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible for you to know, with any sort of certainty, that your product is innovative. For that, you need a customer. Prototyping is always an iterative process, of course. But you want to take pains to include a target customer on your team, or at least make sure your prototyping includes feedback with a would-be customer.

Think about it: Customers no longer merely consume. They want to contribute and create. Involving them at the earliest stages not only helps ensure you’ve got a product people actually want, but it will prove to be effective marketing as well.

Operational excellence

You need to do what you know, know what you’re doing, and lead. Ideation and creativity are fun, but unless your execution is impeccable, they’re not profitable. You will need a sound and detailed roadmap based on a clear strategy, focus and plan.  At the same time, you need to respect the importance of urgency, especially if you expect to be a first mover.

Hand-picked people and partners

Take care to choose the right balance of people, not just those who are booksmart. You need individuals with street smarts, wicked creativity, honesty and unwavering tenacity. You want those who appreciate that every single penny spent should bring value. And by all means, you want them to have a sense of humor.

When you’re looking for partners, synergy should be the key concern. Partnerships should allow you to keep doing those things at which you are best-in-class, and to hand off something that is not your core strength. 

Keep it simple and get the core right. You can always be a feature creeper later.