How Your Great New Idea Can Avoid Becoming a Loser

How many times have you heard someone say ‘right idea!’ when there is an execution blip that nullifies success and an otherwise brilliant notion bites the dust.

You hear it in kids’ sports all the time, particularly soccer, where an attempt to pass the ball to a mate is intercepted by an opposition player. The right intent was there but execution fell short of an awesome outcome. ‘Right idea’ is intended to support the right behavior and encourage the player to try it again and again until it works.

But it’s deflating. You can see they have a picture in their mind of what the result should be, but it’s shattered when it doesn’t play out the way it was envisioned.

The situation has a parallel in the startup world.

Startups have a ‘Right idea!’ when they develop their strategic game plan. It represents their solution to a common customer problem which should on paper be a raging success.

Right ideas are plentiful; new business ideas are constantly streaming from brilliant entrepreneurs. The thing is, the percentage of right ideas that make it through the successful implementation funnel are few and far between — as I’ve said before, roughly half of startups fail in the first 5 years.

The failure to execute on a great idea is beyond disappointing, it hurts.

In my experience people just don’t spend enough time determining exactly what has to be done to bring the new idea to life. The idea may be borne in an instant but more time is required on what to do with it to see it to a successful conclusion.

If you can’t implement, you’re done. It’s the end of your story.

These four essentials will increase the odds of your amazing idea crossing the finish line.

#1. Double down on implementation

Be prepared to dive deep on determining how to execute your idea and spend an overwhelming amount of time to figure out the details of making this sucker live.

Unfortunately the idea has no life on its own; it’s a figment of your imagination; a mere possibility. It needs to be transformed into something practical before it has any value.

The idea to prevent a driver of a vehicle from using their mobile device while driving is an easily understood solution to the distracted driving problem, but unless it can be delivered to the market it remains on the entrepreneur’s wish list.

The idea emerged 24 months ago in an insightful moment; implementation is 2+ years in and counting. It’s not a simple process and it’s certainly not easy.

Be overly disciplined in thinking about your implementation plan; the devil’s in the details so you want it to be as complete as possible, covering all possible actions that are necessary to get this puppy to market.

#2. Focus on a couple of really important things

Don’t try to boil the ocean; focus on a handful of actions that you believe will result in successfully seeing your idea come to fruition.

There are many actions you could take to implement your idea — usually a result of brainstorming — but the challenge is to define the few critical moves you should make.

You don’t have sufficient time or money to pursue numerous approaches at the same time; narrow them down to one or two that you believe are essential to moving the implementation yardsticks fast.

In business, one effective way of achieving this is to select one target market to attack rather than spraying your efforts across several potential ones.

Rather than focusing on a consumer segment, for example, which is complicated and often expensive to penetrate, target a specific business application which is more easily reached.

Or, go after a confined geographic area — a province or state —rather than a broader one like a country.

#3. Don’t chase cars

I talk a lot about ‘Yummy’, but it’s worth repeating here because I see too many startups held back due to their meandering. Stay focused; resist the temptation to stray from your action plan when new possibilities descend on you.

It’s all very well to be open to new avenues to explore but it can end up with you chasing anything that comes along. Chasing makes you busy, but is unlikely to achieve the results you want.

Every entrepreneur faces this issue. They no sooner lock their launch plan down and a new possibility comes over-the-transom and hits them — an application, a partner, a technology change.

Yummy might satisfy your immediate hunger but it won’t quell your appetite.

Yes, this Yummy incoming should be considered and examined thoughtfully, but not chased. Thoughtful consideration of these new possibilities must be given and should have overwhelming benefits before you decide to give up your initial execution plan.

#4. Change on the fly

Make changes on the run in the face of setbacks that question your idea.

It is a rare event when your original implementation plan plays out the way you had intended — not because of Yummy, but due to your planned actions not achieving the results you expected and because of unpredicted events — like COVID, sales channel failure, pricing problems, revenue shortfall — that slam you.

Be in touch with how implementation is progressing and be alert to any deviations from your game plan that require you to modify your direction.

Make the required tweaks and keep going.

Having a brilliant idea is a great place to start, but unless you put on your execution hat, it will never see the light of day.

Related: Why a Job Is Way More Important Than Your Career