While visiting my parents rented beach condo on the shores of Lake Michigan, I saw a great poster art on the wall. It was a picture of racing sailboats with the caption "Success" and under it "You Can't Change the Wind but You Can Adjust the Sails".
This is a great phrase for how I view startup company opportunities, and I addressed this topic in different ways in two of my previous posts, Venture Business Dogma and Follow Up to Venture Business Dogma. For a startup company, the demand for the product or service they are offering is like the wind to a sailboat. Company management skill, sales, marketing, customer service and operations is like adjusting the sails. Adjusting the sails can propel you to beating the competition, but if the demand for the specific product or service you are offering isn't really strong, it won't be much of a race worth winning.
All VCs and entrepreneurs that are in the "good to great" category can adjust the sails with high skill. What separates the good from the great is that ability to read the wind better than others, i.e. knowing better than others what type of demand exists (or will exist) for a specific product or service.