Ideas mean nothing unless they are made 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, the next development, and the new opportunity.
William Buist, CEO of Abelard and Founder of xTEN Club offers 10 tips to implementing effectively as an entrepreneur:
1. Crystal clear clarity of where you’re going.
Firstly, have really 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 then 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 do 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 sensibly realistic, when you set the goal.
If there are critical dates you need to hit then 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 Win”s.
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 that 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, and so will be easy to repeat, and the 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 is the work that 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 too. Brilliant products, and remarkable companies, implement brilliantly.