“If only I came up with that!” Have you ever found yourself saying that about a new business idea? I know I have. The truth is we are creative people and we have MILLIONS of ideas (some better than others). But it isn’t the idea that turns an entrepreneur into a success…it’s the execution.
This has actually been a struggle of mine because I’m an ideas person. I fall in love with the creative process of strategizing, brainstorming, and asking how can we change this or that and how can we make things better. I often find myself getting caught up in the discussion of an idea instead of implementing the idea.
But about a year ago, I read an incredible book called Big Magic. The author describes ideas as something that’s actually not as unique to us as they make us feel. What’s unique are those people that act on them and act on them SOON… or someone else will! We all have great ideas, but if we don’t act on them, they won’t reach their potential.
Execution is everything, but it’s the hardest part and often scares people from following through with their idea. Whether it’s giving up free time, financial costs, or overcoming self-doubt, most ideas don’t make it to reality.
From a business point of view, if you are looking for investors and you tell them you have a “million dollar idea,” it means nothing to them. They want to see a million dollar execution…someone who treats their start-up as if it is a million dollar company making smart moves and DOING what others aren’t.
The hard part is that no one can tell you how to execute correctly when you are a start-up, because you are usually doing something different. So, you have to play trial and error with incredible attention to the reaction you get from your market, audience, vendors and business.
Execution is what makes dreamers doers!
Bloguettes, Majka, and Call Me Lore all started off as ideas and honestly none of them were popular ideas when I told people. But I knew what I envisioned and I believed in my ideas enough to follow through with the risk and only after it came to life did people start to see what I was seeing from the beginning.
SO… I am not here to tell you that you should pursue all of your ideas, BUT I am here to give you ideas (haha) on how you could take your best ideas from concepts into reality.
How to Execute an Idea
Execution is a big term and can be put to work in a many ways. Your idea is the vehicle, but execution is the driver that’s going to get you from point A to point B.
1. It’s never the right time, but it’s always the right time.
One of the most common setbacks is sitting on your big idea, only confiding in friends and family, and waiting for the perfect time to start. That time staying up at night thinking about how it is going to work but always putting it on the back burner does you little good.
No matter how long you think about it, problems will always arise, but if it is worth it, you will work through those problems and they will teach you more about your business than trying to prepare for everything that could go wrong. You CREATE the right time with your dedication, time, and effort to making it real.
2. Stop doubting yourself.
This is another huge reason so many ideas remain as ideas. We are fearful of making a fool of ourselves or burning through resources/finances for it to be a huge flop. Well guess what? That is always a possibility. But if it was easy, everyone would do it right?
Taking that risk takes you so much farther. That may mean spending your weekends working, putting yourself out there to talk about your business, or even spending money on your business or team instead of yourself. There are a lot of risks involved, but you have to believe in your idea enough to see what happens when you take the risk.
3. Listen to your potential customers.
Emphasis on potential customers here folks. People often advise business owners to put on blinders and don’t listen to others and trust their gut, which is good advice some of the time. But in my experience, I have found that listening to your potential customer is incredibly valuable. We can’t get wrapped up in our idea, because at the end of the day, a good business is bringing value to OTHERS.
Be wary of whose opinion you give a lot of attention to, but be open to criticism and ultimately ways to better understand your customer, industry, and mission. Figure out if your business really solves a need people have and know what sets you apart.
4. Let go of perfection and act.
Starting acting! Don’t sweat every detail and know that we have to let go of some control. Do the best you can with the resources you have at the time and know that you will always have the opportunity to correct it. Be extremely patient and accept the process, because there will be some unexpected bumps along the way. In the beginning, you are most likely going to have to learn how to do things you don’t enjoy doing and wear many hats, but you will grow and be able to delegate. So in the beginning, take that JUMP and act, just don’t move at sloth speed and put in that extra time when you can.
Side note however… do not cut corners when it comes to branding. When you launch, it is the very first impression the world forms of your business. Do NOT sell yourself short and start just to start. Do not tell yourself, “my social media, website, photography, or branding can’t be that great because I’m a small business.” Not true at all! In this digital age, consumers decide in seconds if they will take your business seriously just by how it looks. It is harder to re-brand than start a new brand.
5. Focus on solutions, not problems.
In the beginning, we often try to troubleshoot every possible issue that MIGHT happen with our idea. But instead of focusing on the problems that could happen, focus on how you will overcome them. Spend more time laying out a clear communication of how you and your team will overcome issues. You cannot predict your problems so have a flexible system of how problems will be handled.
6. Be Accountable.
Everyone wants to be their own boss, until they are their own boss haha. No one is going to tell you what to do anymore. You aren’t going to get fired if you don’t get your tasks done on time, but your dream could crash and burn. We, as humans, are better with a clear direction but as a business owner you are the direction. Use a task list and assign them to yourself with a due date. Something that has an alert and gives you a sense of urgency. Focus on the small attainable goals, they will add up to actually getting to the bigger ideas. I am a HUGE advocate of starting the morning with a prioritized task list and starting the morning with your most difficult analytical tasks when you are most productive.
Self discipline is something you can learn. If you’re passionate about making your idea come to life even a naturally unorganized person can learn to change their habits with systems and routines in place. You can read my productivity tips or morning routine for more ideas of how to keep yourself on track.
7. Create systems.
This is what will keep you on track as you continue to grow. The first actions are important but to be successful a business needs to continuously innovate and act on their ideas to stay competitive. Think of Blockbuster for example, a great idea that got stuck in their one idea and didn’t pivot on new ideas. Systems are HOW your business will act and is what allows you to bring a team in that is on the same page. It keeps everyone accountable and always has a goal in mind.
This all easier said than done! Turning ideas into action or business is hard work but it’s worth it.
Always pursue your dreams and do not allow yourself to go through life thinking WHAT IF!