Published on July 26th, 2011 | by Tod Whipple1
How to execute an idea
No matter how great you think your next startup idea might be consider it worthless without proper execution. The real maneuver is how well you execute ingredients that make startup success. The real innovation occurs when you take an idea and figure out how to make it simple, intuitive and most importantly useful.
To make and argument for execution vs brilliant idea just look at the weight most mentor seed incubators like Techstars, Ycombinator and Capital Factory place on the start-up founders themselves. Sure the idea has to be worthwhile and achievable but more than 50% of start-ups change from their original idea before completing the program. Mentors of these startup incubators need to choose founders that have the chops and passion to see an idea come to fruition regardless of how many obstacles arise.
So what is an entrepreneur to do when it comes to the burning question of How to execute an idea? There is no one size fits all when it comes to execution but there are five general tips that could drastically enhance your chances for executing your next start-up successfully.
1. Ideas are a dime a dozen
The English idiom means ideas are common or worthless. Way back when the idiom was established people realized ideas are plentiful which is why you can get a dozen for a dime. One cannot just steal an idea which is why patent law exists for methods of execution not conjuring up ideas and concepts.
2. Road map is for going from I to E not A to Z
If you don’t know where you’re going you will never get there. This simple platitude showcases the harsh reality of understanding that you need to take an idea (I) to execution (E) via a road map. Upon reaching your destination you will find your road map looks drastically different then you originally envisioned. Don’t discount the importance of setting a road map and updating it along the way. Having a clear path is an essential tool in getting your idea out of your head and into a real product or service.
Be sure not to get bogged down establishing your road map, (essentially a business plan) keep it simple. A simple SWOT analysis, market share study and more importantly a market fit study for your product or service will suffice.
3. Action & Systems
So you have an idea and you established a realistic road map, now you need to set achievable goals and milestones in a desired time-frame. Productivity is the name of the game, you will need to become efficient and develop systems for getting things done. You need to take your idea and execute it better than anyone else in the marketplace. Having reliable systems will allow you to focus on your most important action items and help you move closer your milestones.
If you know what makes your product so special you better focus every action item on conveying the “specialness” to your customers. Apple’s obsession with design and simple UI has turned customers into droves of evangelists because the company continues to choose design as the single most important priority in its’ action plan. There is more to do in any given day than you will possibly ever get done so be sure every bit of your actions count. Someone asked on Quora “How do you prioritize stuff?” My answer was simple either Do it, Delegate it, or Drop it. — Forget the rest.
Take responsibility for your actions and for the actions of others. Understand why your customers think your product sucks. Understand why you keep going over-budget and over-schedule. Remember, the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
5. Market Factors
Market timing, macro-economic issues and luck are always variables in any execution formula for startups. Don’t pretend they don’t exist and don’t try to predict them. This may be a bit abstract for some on you reading this tip but ask Friendster and Facebook how the social network space turned out respectively.