Your ideas for a new business may be compelling or even groundbreaking, but without proper execution, your plans will remain just that — plans. The hard part, of course, is transforming that idea into a product or service that's clearly understood, intuitive to use, and valuable to the consumer. This transformation can only occur through well-planned and systematic execution. Here are six steps for moving your potentially profitable ideas from concept to reality:
1. Get it on paper
Putting your ideas in writing is the obvious first step, but actually taking that small step can be the greatest barrier to transforming a concept into reality. Begin by listing some "what if" questions to better focus your thinking:
- What if I could implement the idea today? What resources would I need?
- What would the business model look like? How would it generate profit?
- What if the idea could be even broader than what I have in mind? What would a really big idea look like?
Answering these questions will give your ideas shape and weight.
2. Create a road map from idea to execution
Plot out the concrete steps needed to get from (A), your idea, to (Z), a tangible product or service. It's very likely that the road map you envision today will change as a result of different circumstances along the way, but without a clearly defined goal and vision, your forward progress will stall.
3. "SWOT" your idea
Applying a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis can be an effective way to determine if your idea is worth pursuing. Also ask yourself if apparent strengths might become weaknesses, or if there's a way to convert a threat into an opportunity. At the same time, assess current market trends to gauge if your new product or service idea genuinely offers something that's creative and useful to consumers.
4. Communicate with your team
If you've hired wisely, you have creative people with the skills to bring your ideas to fruition. Give your team the freedom to comment on both the idea itself and your road map for moving it forward. Communicate with them the "why" behind your idea so they can begin to see their own roles within the venture.
According to leadership training consultant Paul Kerr, "Leaders who cannot define what they want accomplished can hardly expect others to understand their strategy and participate in their projects with any level of meaningful contribution. … The more specifically you can define your expectations, the better it will allow employees to wrap their minds around what they're supposed to be working toward."
Feedback is necessary to avoid becoming too insular and convinced your idea is perfect the way it is. Constructive criticism can help eliminate potential hazards or obstacles before they arise.
5. Be flexible and have a "plan B"
Even with the best-laid plans, you can expect to hit a bump in the road from time to time, so maintaining flexibility — and pivoting along the way — is key to success. While putting a plan together and communicating it with your team, also think of a viable Plan B should changing conditions require you to adopt an alternative strategy.
6. Celebrate your successes
As you and your team hit milestones, take time to celebrate. This helps solidify team spirit and keeps employees focused on accomplishing the next step. Before you know it, you'll be marking the big event itself — the launch of an exciting new product or service that began as a simple idea and became reality due to your well-executed road map.