Ideas are the lifeblood of the entrepreneurial spirit. They are the sparks of innovation, the kernels of “what might be.” But ideas alone are not success. Ideas represent potential.

Without execution, ideas are just that—ideas. They are pie in the sky dreams and wishful thinking.

Ideas Without Execution Are Squandered

Many ideas fail to see the light of day—whether they are business-related or relevant to our daily lives. For example, maybe you have an idea to start company, develop a product, write that book or movie script you’ve always meant to tackle, or simply want to get to that yard work you’ve been putting off, wash the car, or paint your bedroom.

If you’ve had these kinds of ideas but failed to act on them, what stopped you?

I’d hazard a guess that MOST of our ideas never come to fruition. Why is that?

People can fail to act on their ideas for any number of reasons, which may include a combination of some or all of the following:

  • They don’t know how to move forward or don’t know what steps are necessary to turn their idea into a success story. They are big picture thinkers, but fail when it comes to planning.
  • They may know what to do, but feel daunted and overwhelmed. They are paralyzed by the enormity of the task. They may think about their idea all the time, but never get beyond the conception stage.
  • They aren’t disciplined enough to begin the work necessary to make an idea a reality or stick to it.
  • They don’t have the resources (time, money, people) or the skills necessary to develop the idea.
  • They aren’t willing to bring in a creative, technology, financial, or strategic partner to make it happen, or don’t know how to.
  • They fear failure.
  • They fear success and how it might affect their lives and relationships.
  • Someone else comes up with the same or similar idea and beats them to the punch.

When an idea strikes, chances are it’s not unique—even if it’s a great one. Someone, somewhere has probably thought of a similar idea or is working in a comparable space. But don’t let that discourage you. On the contrary, let that motivate you to jump on your idea sooner rather than later and make the resulting product or service superior to anyone else’s offering.

Remember, the spoils don’t go necessarily to the ones who come up with the idea, but to the ones most inspired to turn that idea into a profitable venture, and specifically those most willing and able to take the actions necessary to make it happen.

What are those steps?

  • Ideation — This is the stage where you come up with the idea, your “Eureka!” moment.
  • Strategy — Who might your idea appeal to and why? Is there are market for it? If so, how might it be delivered?
  • Feasibility — Can the idea be profitable? What will it take to make it happen? What do the numbers look like? Is it sustainable?
  • Planning — What steps do you need to take to turn your idea into a product or service people will want to buy?
  • Execution — Ideas don’t become real on their own. The way forward requires intention, attention, and execution.
Start with Why

Ideas change the world, but only if they make it past the “Wouldn’t it be nice if—” or “I wonder if anyone’s ever thought of doing—” stages. This is where most people get stuck. Perhaps it’s where you find yourself. If so, consider the words of American novelist Sue Taylor Grafton: “Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.”

Will you get stuck like most entrepreneurs with a great idea but little to show for it? Or will you take those next steps? Will you make it happen?

Share your thoughts and IDEAS here. (C’mon . . . what’s stopping you?)