Ideas mean nothing unless you make them real. Real entrepreneurial ideas get turned into products and services and are sold to customers to make a difference. Yet, entrepreneurs are often not implementers, nor project managers. They're often distracted by the next idea, development or new opportunity. Here are my 10 tips for entrepreneurs on how to become a better implementer…
1 Clarity on where you're going
Firstly, have clear goals. If you can't tell everyone what you are doing, quickly and with passion, why would they care about it? If the picture you paint is of a future that makes the effort worthwhile, people will yearn for it and fight for it, with you.
2 Slow down to go faster
There is the work that directly creates our idea and makes it real, and then there is the planning and administrative work. That indirect work is an ‘overhead'. Many entrepreneurs treat overhead tasks as something to do as you go. However, by doing them early you'll save a lot of time later.
3 Set a realistic timescale
You'll need some time to adapt and change on the journey. Work expands to fit the time available too, so be realistic when setting the goal. If there are critical dates you need to hit, those should be clear at this point, so expectations are properly set.
4 Find the big chunks
Look at the work one quarter at a time. Identify what would have had to have been delivered three months before the end date, six months before the end date and so on. By doing that your team can see what they'll be building.
5 Identify the building blocks
Now create monthly goals for the next two quarters and weekly goals for the first month or so. But do not go further. Great teams rely on the ability of everyone to plan their own work within the framework.
6 Identify "Now Wins"
It's now useful to plan forward and look at what could be done this week, this month and this quarter. This can show you where there are opportunities to win now and get ahead of the game.
7 Don't be a slave to the plan – the plan is your slave
If necessary – take a step back. Do some work on the project, deliver some elements of it and then look at where that takes you and how to plan further from there. Project planning should be no more than a few minutes each week, once the original plan is put in place.
8 Remember resources and materials
In any project there will be times when you need specific essential materials or resources, so each week and month take a look ahead, check what resources you're expecting to need and make sure they're on track for delivery.
9 Reward success
It's important to recognise and reward incremental successes within the team. Let them know that it's on track and going well. It will help ensure that this and every implementation easier.
10 Document along the way
In reality, every task in a project has probably been done before in a different context. The mistakes have been forgotten, making them easy to repeat, with shortcuts forgotten, too. This step is not for this time, it's for next time. You'll get quicker and can move on to the next idea ever faster.
Implementation brings your ideas to the world and when it's done brilliantly it's because of attention to detail and great planning. It builds on past experience and creates the foundations for future success. Brilliant products and remarkable companies implement brilliantly.
Copyright © 2014 William Buist, owner of Abelard Collaborative Consultancy and founder of the exclusive xTEN Club, an annual programme of strategic activities for small, exclusive groups of business owners.