From Think to Execute

“The ability to convert ideas to things is the secret of outward success.”
– Henry Ward Beecher

It is not enough to simply have a good–or even great–idea. Ideas are plentiful. I have them. You have them. The bum on the downtown street corner has them. People whose faces grace the covers of business magazines have them. Why are they on the cover and not us? Quite simply, they have become very proficient at executing their idea(s).

Brad Feld, of The Foundry Group and TechStars says that he gets emails all the time from would-be entrepreneurs with the latest software and internet ideas:

Often these entrepreneurs think their idea is brand new – that no one has ever thought of it before. Other times they ask me to sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect their idea. Occasionally the emails mysteriously allude to the idea without really saying what it is. These entrepreneurs think their idea is special and magic. And they are wrong.

The great entrepreneurs are already focused on the implementation of their idea. They send me links to their website or software. They describe the business they are in the process of creating (or have already created). They point me to what they’ve done to implement their idea and show real users who validate that the idea is important. And they quickly move past the idea to the execution of the idea.

Google? Not the first search engine. Facebook? Not the first social network. Groupon? Not the first deal site. Pandora? Not the first music site. The list goes on. Even when you go back in time to the origins of the software industry: MS-DOS – not the first operating system. Lotus 1-2-3 – not the first spreadsheet.

The products and their subsequent companies became great because of execution. First, they had to execute on building a great product. Next, they had to execute on building a great business. Finally, they had to execute on scaling, sustaining, and evolving a great business.

Notice what Feld says…

  1. Execute on building a great product. As you move from Ideation to Conceptualization, it is important to vet the commercial and market value of the idea. Determine whether the “back of the napkin” math shows that the idea has promise to anyone other than yourself.
  2. Execute on building a great business. Creation is the process of doing one’s initial research and development, followed by producing a prototype or beta version of the product or service. The work done here will reveal what not to do and what to do as you go about determining what you plan to take to market.
  3. Execute on scaling a great business. Evaluation of your strategic plan and markets, validating them and building a strong team around you will allow you to grow with less problems down the road.
  4. Execute on sustaining a great business. Preparation for the launch and Commercialization of your product or service require thinking through what you plan to do with a systems and process mentality so that procedures can be developed that help the business to run itself.
  5. Execute on evolving a great business. Commercialization looks differently at later stages of business growth. Sales organizations and operations must change and  as market data is analyzed and new opportunities for competitiveness emerge.

Be someone known for execution rather than ideas–even if you are not trying to impress a venture capitalist, you will meet with greater success in all that you undertake!


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