As children we learned there are right answers and wrong answers. We learned choosing the wrong answer or making a bad decision had serious consequences. It was important to be right. Life and running a business just aren’t that simple. In many cases, the best ideas and the answers which are considered “right” will fail.
Why? Success isn’t in the concept, it’s in the execution. Success happens when you commit to a direction and go for it.
Alright, so that sounds like marketing hype and I should probably print it on a bumper sticker, but every day I talk with business owners who get in the way of their own success for one of two reasons: The inability to make a decision and stick with it, or lack of detail in the business strategy or execution plan.
Inability to decide
Early in my career, I was trying to make an important decision. I turned to my boss after agonizing over the issue for weeks and he told me the problem didn’t matter and both choices were good. We would be fine using whichever option I chose as long as I went forward with all guns pointed in the same direction. I think of this example when I talk with business owners who can’t decide between two great logos or interesting tag lines. What I have learned is the sooner they pick one and embrace it, the sooner they can move on.
Even more important than making the decision is accepting the choice. We have seen projects derailed and businesses moving in circles instead of going forward because the owner second guesses the decision they made a week prior. A year from now the color of your logo, the words in your tagline and the featured image on your web page will be fine because it was the one you chose.
Surprisingly, if you have done your homework the same is true for the types of products and services you offer and the employees you hire. Your success hinges on your commitment to the concept and the details of your execution.
Lack of detail
Brilliant ideas fail because the entrepreneur can’t stop looking at the big picture long enough to dive into the details. They fall in love with the concept and forget to think about what it will take to build, implement and sell their idea. How do you avoid this problem?
Whether you are trying to launch a new product or company, or simply run a successful promotion or special event, a well thought out, tactical plan gives you a great foundation. While the amount of detail required will vary, any tactical plan should include the following:
- Timeline – Work backwards from the launch date. Document when specific things must happen in order to launch your idea on time. Consider critical paths and where bottle necks can occur. Anticipating real and potential roadblocks will keep your plan moving. Be realistic about your timeline. If you aren’t working on anything else, your timeline can be fairly aggressive. If you are involving others, figure out if they have the same bandwidth to meet your time frame.
- Resources – Sometimes all you need to transform your idea into reality is time. In other cases, you need tools such as software or hardware, facilities, people and equipment. Be sure you have a complete list of necessary resources before you dive in. If capital investments will be required, funding sources should be identified early. It’s much easier to get capital before you need it.
- People – You won’t be able to do it all. Whether you hire, outsource or identify strategic partners, you need to know up front what type of activities will need to occur and who you will rely on to complete them.
- Vision – Most of us can visualize what success looks like. How will you know if you are on the right path? Perhaps your vision is to have annual sales of $1 million. What will your company look like when you get there? How many people do you need to hire to sustain this growth? What type of projects or products will you sell? Who will your clients be? While it is important to have a long term vision, you also need to have milestones and measurements to stay on track.
What is your brilliant idea? Do you have the courage to go for it and a plan to make it real?