My wife and I occasionally gave into temptation and watched infomercials when we had cable or DirecTV. We would watch the latest unique product and look at each other. “Gee, I wish we would have thought of that!” was a familiar refrain.
The last time I thought of this was when I saw a contracting garden hose that eliminated the need for wrapping a hose or using a hose reel. The hose expands and contracts like a coil.
We all have a little of this “Why didn’t I think of that mentality” in us. Why didn’t I write a book? Why didn’t I start a business? Why didn’t I create that new product line? The “Why didn’t I …” represents our frustrations when we see the next great product or the latest high-flying business.
The secret to great products isn’t the idea
Plenty of seemingly great ideas have failed. The Spider-Man movies have been a huge success, but the Broadway musical flopped despite the involvment of industry heavyweight Bono. Netbooks seemed to have the right mix of portability and computing strength – until tablet computers stole their market. Ideas are plentiful, but the real key to greatness lies in execution.
CDBaby founder and best-selling author Derek Sivers illustrated the importance of execution in an iconic 2009 blog post. Derek’s formula for value is the picture of this post. The moral of the story is simple – a great idea is worth very little without great execution.
How do we focus on execution?
Execution is nothing more than creating a plan and following that plan. There are four steps to changing your focus to execution.
1. Set an end date – Nothing will spur you to action like an ending date. I have wanted to create a product to sell on my website for months. I kept putting it off until I publicly announced a release date on my blog. On August 22, I will have a product available for sale on my website. I set the dealine. I have to make it happen now.
2. Create intermediate goals – Running a half-marathon seems like an extremely tough challenge. My youngest brother thought the same thing when his fiance signed him up for a half-marathon in Chicago during the summer of 2012. Jordan quickly adopted a training plan and set mileage goals throughout his training. He completed the training and completed the half-marathon.
3. Tell others – It’s hard to hold yourself accountable. Others can push you where you can’t push yourself. Every Monday night, I meet with seven other aspiring entrepreneurs. We share our accomplishments and our challenges. We receive feedback and must report our progress next week. I don’t want to let seven people down, so I accomplish my goals.
4. Communicate with your partners – One of my clients has faced an extremely difficult few weeks of work. We had difficulty connecting and communicating, and we lost track of some key tasks. We now meet once a week to make sure we are focusing on the same goals.
Execution is the dirty work of business, but those who execute well are successful. How will you turn your great ideas into execution?