I'm not sure why people think they have to be the smartest person in the room to build a business.
Do you want to write software for a living? Google is hiring. Do you want to run a software business? Godspeed. Software is now 10% of your working life.
Y'know. I think some folk mis-read this as implying that 10% == unimportant. Which I'm sure is not @patio11's point.
It's still vitally important that you execute superbly on that 10%.
It's just that that other 90% needs to get done too.
You can partner up. You can hire folk. Doesn't matter who does it as long as it gets done..
I've got a superb freelance accountant and a superb non-developer full-time partner in my business which means I get to spend a lot more than 10% of my time coding. And I'm more service that software - so coding is what we sell to some extent. But looking at hours spent by everybody it's still around 20-30% coding, 60-80% everything else.
[Edit: Another thing. I bet some folk read 10%==coding==fun. 90%==not-coding==not-fun. Some of that 90% is dull as ditchwater. Sorting out PAYE and tax returns is not my idea of entertainment. Great chunks of it are fascinating though. Figuring out product/market fit. Talking to clients and users about their problems. Meeting new people. Seeing those metrics and figuring out "oh shit - that's where it's going wrong". And so on. All great stuff.]
You need to make around 15 man hours fit in one of your work day. This is between coding, managing clients, dealing with bureaucracy, etc
I have to say as someone that worked as a consultant (for one client, which makes a lot of the bureaucratic/client management work simpler) one of the biggest time savers I has was hiring an accountant (instead of doing by myself)
Sometimes having a great product really is enough.
I do think, though, that even low-sophistication one-man-shop businesses are substantially more complex than "focus 100% on product and everything turns out cool."
Don't worry, I'm not saying this to drum up consulting business. All of my clients are waaaaay past the point where what I said here would be controversial. Many of them have CEOs who describe their own jobs as figuring out ways to protect the engineering team from the other 90%.
You've committed a fallacy by looking only at the successes and determining it isn't difficult. The vast majority of businesses fail, and you never see them. Most of the rest never amount to anything more than someone busting their ass for the same (or less) money than they could be making punching the clock 9 to 5. That's the fundamental truth of it.
But of course, we live in a world where everyone is above average, right?
Identifying and focusing on there is the best way to generate
But you'll see many resumes that read, ran X successful businesses. They can point to a website and say, "There's my business!" I can say from experience, the small-business pizza shop owner doesn't get to do that.
You can get a web application in front of customers much faster than you can get a pizza in front of customers. This is really important. It does not imply that the average YC company is orders of magnitude less complex than the average pizzeria. If you have doubts about this one, buy any YC founder drinks and mention "hiring" or "investors" or "accounting", then see how simple their lives are. This is especially true as you go up the age or success curve from "founded by two guys eating ramen 12 weeks ago."
I think people get carried away by complexity sometimes and forget that building a business can just mean solving a problem better than anyone else and telling people about it.
Complexity is the enemy, I eschew it, when I find something really smart and complicated in my codebase (even stuff that I wrote), I rip it out and replace it with something simple.
The M-16 is a completely superior weapon system in almost every regard to an AK-47, except one, you can throw an AK-47 in the mud pick it up and shoot it. It passes the good enough bar and it works.
Complex systems are brittle, it's sort of the Buffet theory, find a business so simple even an idiot could run it.
Nevertheless, I don't really agree with fleitz. Haphazardly throwing cheese, sauce, and pepperoni together on dough never makes good pizza (in my not so unbiased opinion as a New Yorker). While good pizza recipes obviously require trial and error to get there, they need to be built on a foundation of deep understanding. See http://www.varasanos.com/PizzaRecipe.htm to get a feel for how difficult it actually is to make good pizza. You can have a successful business without a great product if your location and marketing are good, but I would not be happy running a successful software business that didn't sell good software. So I'm focusing this post on the quality of the business's product, not on how much revenue it makes. While you don't have to be the smartest person in the room to build a great product, you would need to be a great founder and be very good at surrounding yourself with smart people and knowing how to make them operate at their smartest, knowing which suggestions to follow, etc. Average founders almost never luck out completely (and stay successful) and in the specific case of pizza, the New Yorker in me doesn't believe that's possible. :)
That being said, the original OP (I know that seems redundant) was talking about the person with the fewest specific skills, not the least intelligent. Most great founders probably have intelligence or skills, if not both.