A strong beginning is important for a novel. I used to think that I couldn’t develop my story if I didn’t get the beginning right. More recently I found, however, that I’ll find the best way to start the novel while writing it.
As of now, my beginning is unremarkable. I wouldn’t pick up the story based on it. But it doesn’t matter. The best way to get the story started is in my head somewhere and the best way to uncover it is by writing.