Illustration by Tammy Gu

Building A Startup: Moving From Ideation to Execution

Building a start up is no small task. In fact, it may be one of the biggest tasks you ever attempt. And that’s because what you’re aiming for, in the end, is not to have a start up.

You’re aiming for a full-functioning, profitable company (I hope).

But you’re not going to get this full-functioning, profitable company without first building a successful start up. “Start up,” to be clear, is just the name given to such companies while they’re in their beginning stages.

Of course, you’re also not going to build your successful start up unless you do a few other things, whereby a “few” I mean several thousand. Give or take.

Arguably the hardest part of building a start up is moving from ideation to execution; making the move from just thinking about your project to bringing it about. This blog is about helping you make this move. It’s about helping you take action on your project, possibly for the first time.

If you’re in the process of building a start up right now, you probably don’t have a lot of time to read, so I intend to keep this short and to the point.

Write Out Your Plan With Clear, Measurable Action Steps

This part may still seem to some like another element of ideation, but I’m inclined to think not.

Think of ideation as simply the act of thinking up ideas. It can be private — just you in your own mind; or it could be public — you and some friends out at dinner.

What do both of these have in common? They lack something concrete, visible and trackable.

Concrete: you can point to it, look at it, and so can other people.
Visible: it’s in view; it can be found; there can be witnesses to it.
Trackable: it can be measured; you can tell whether the thing in question has been accomplished or not.

Have an idea? Maybe even a really good idea? Write it down. Then ask yourself: what are the first things I’d have to do to bring this about?

Then, write those things down. Next, do those things. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat.

Involve Someone At Every Step Of The Way

What’s nice about the above point is that it doesn’t really cost you much. And yet, it still pushes you toward your vision, toward your idea.

In writing out your plan and putting some action steps to it, you’ve successfully begun the process of execution. And it’s in this process that you’ll be from here on out.

While writing out a plan with some steps is huge (and, believe it or not, already a lot more than most people with ideas will do), it’s enormously insufficient for staying in the execution mode.

Now, it seems fair to say that most people are not gifted self-motivators; most simply don’t have the inner motivation to sustain their own movements from ideation to execution. Here’s the really important point, however: it’s okay if you struggle to stay motivated by yourself.

Don’t lie to yourself. Admit it proudly. And then, find someone who can join you in your project and therefore can help to provide motivation.

Accountability will be among the key differences between start ups that succeed and the ones that don’t.

It’s possible that you’re already psyching yourself out, even in this moment. “I don’t have money to hire someone…” or “I don’t really know what I’m doing.”

These are natural concerns to have when thinking about adding someone to your team. Here’s what I recommend: make sure your idea is coherent, and then start pitching it to those who you think could actually help you.

Even if your idea isn’t totally “there” yet, by pitching it over and over again you will clarify it and crystallize it. You will also be surprised to find out how willing others might be to join you in your venture. Most importantly, you have nothing to lose — besides perhaps a little pride — and a lot to gain.

Find someone to join you if you can. This will sincerely help you move from ideation to execution. Even better, it’ll help you stay in the mode of executing and doing.

Stop Waiting For The “Perfect Moment” To Launch Your Idea

It may have been better to start with this point. But then again, people generally don’t like being told to “stop doing” whatever it is they’re doing.

Or in this case, whatever it is they’re not doing.

You’ve probably heard the phrase before “paralysis by analysis.” This is the basic idea that we often fail to move (at all) because we get stuck in the thinking.

“Paralysis by analysis” is often the underlying problem for those waiting for the perfect moment to start, the perfect moment to launch.

As it turns out, there’s no such moment.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t some moments that are better than others; simply that there’s no perfect moment. What you should look for as indicators that the time is right to launch are the following:

  1. You’re feeling scared.
  2. You’re feeling nervous.
  3. It feels incredibly risky.

If you’re about to launch or promote your project for the first time, and you feel no scare, no nerves, and no risk, something is probably wrong.

Let your nerves and sense of risk be signs that you’re moving in the right direction. Tell this to your partner as well who’s likely just as scared as you are.

By acknowledging these feelings and moving forward anyway, I believe you’ll have successfully moved from ideation to execution.

Written by: Bryan Forbes

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