“Big ideas” are not in short supply. They never have been. But what separates successful entrepreneurs and business owners from daydreamers is execution … putting those ideas into action.

Take social media. How many otherwise smart guys do you think are kicking themselves that they never acted on their thoughts about creating some kind of “social” website? It took a plucky college student to turn a great idea into a great product: Facebook. A few years (and lots of effort) later, Mark Zuckerberg became a legend.

Translating Strategy into Action

Ultimately, it’s not your strategic choices that drive success, but how well you implement them. To put it bluntly: an idea isn’t worth more than the cocktail napkin you write it on — until you execute it. Consider these key steps for putting ideas into action:

Simplify and focus. Bill Gates understands the power of simplification. To get where he is today, the richest man in America took thousands of policies and procedures at Microsoft and trimmed them down to a mere 60. By keeping things simple and focused, he was able to execute his big ideas.

Align it. Even actionable ideas will fail if they are not in alignment with your company's other goals. Lay your big idea up against your stated vision, mission and values. Does it fit? If not, either the idea or your company’s goals need to change.

Analyze it. Apply a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to your idea. After examining your concept and listing everything you can think of in each of the four areas, you can take your idea further or take it off your plate altogether.

Find a champion. Moving an idea through the organizational maze requires entrepreneurial leadership. Designate a champion who is clearly responsible for that idea and who is authorized to make it happen.

Move fast. Many big thinkers sit on their ideas, paralyzed by self-doubt. Unfortunately, slow execution usually means failure. To make those first steps a little less scary, set milestones — not dates. Venturing into uncharted territory, you have no real way of knowing how easy or hard things will be. What you really want to do is achieve milestones, and then look back and see how long it took.

Talk about it. Sitting on a great idea because you’re afraid someone will steal it is a surefire way of having your idea go nowhere! (That’s what confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements are for.) By all means, secure domain names, register trademarks, and pursue other legal means of protection. But, don’t leave it in a vacuum to wither and die. Bring your idea out into the light of day, where you can seek critical input, advice and guidance.

Prepare to persevere. Finally, be prepared for the long haul. Before he became Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, Harland Sanders had his famous secret chicken recipe rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A. Member FDIC