‘There falls a shadow between the conception and the creation. In the annals of innovation, new ideas are only part of the equation. Execution is just as important.’ – T.S. Elliot
Our start-up journey has taught us much about business and even more about people. One thing we have found surprising is the number of people we have encountered who earnestly reveal that they “have got this idea for an app”. This is indicative of a world where (for the most part) people feel comfortable sharing their ideas with relative strangers – this is possibly one of the most marked achievements of the 21st century, stemming from a mind-set where failure is framed positively, largely pioneered by our ‘yes we can’ American cousins.
Indeed, the deep-seated proliferation of technology largely stemming from ‘the valley’ has engendered a ‘can-do’ outlook through which anything seems possible. A driving force behind this is that some wildly simple (and sometimes ridiculous) concepts have been enormously successful prompting an “I could have come up with that” form of self-reflection. I’m sure most of you will have been on trumpdonald.org, but for those who haven’t, it is a website which allows the user to sound a trumpet into Donald Trump’s face from various angles. It is enormously satisfying & strangely addictive. The site has garnered over 62 million hits/trumps and is a good example of a silly idea, executed simply but with great success.
‘I could have come up with that!’
This can be reduced to a simple assertion: an unremarkable idea with remarkable execution can be enormously successful.
As I am sure is the case with anyone who is new to entrepreneurship, I have devoted much of my time to considering the principles of start-up success. What separates the flops from the successes, the Shetland-pony from the unicorn.
Sources of opinions on this subject are widespread and prolific. The bulk of titles in the business section of bookshops are of the Flip-flops and quinoa: the lean start-up approach genre (that isn’t a real book, don’t google it). I have read quite a few of these books, some are useful and some aren’t, but there is one resounding message that comes through in almost of all of them. Execution is everything.
I am writing this as Inploi (formerly WorkMatch) marches towards its April launch date and the team and I have found four maxims particularly helpful to guide our approach:
Focus your efforts and resources on a specific geography, audience segment or customer base. This way you can allocate budget for maximum impact, manage the experience and iterate your strategy.
Nimble ‘heads-up’ planning
Planning for the inevitable fact that nothing will go entirely to plan, flexibility should be woven into your strategic fabric. Assume everything will cost more and take longer than your forecasts.
Set realistic goals
It is good to be ambitious but you gain nothing from setting unachievable goals. Set success markers along the way – celebrate the wins and learn from the losses.
Company first, start-up second
Your focus should be on establishing yourselves as a business and not reinforcing your ‘start-upness’.
I will be following up on this piece after we have been operating in market for a few months and I will be exploring what we have learned and how the theory outlined above relates to the practice of our market experience.