Turning Your Ideas Into Action: A 5 Step Plan
Success in business is not defined by how good your ideas are but by how well you put them into action. When done correctly and with careful planning, your business can achieve heights you never thought possible. What many people tend to forget about entrepreneurs is that having a great idea isn’t what makes an individual a great business innovator — it’s about having the initiative to act upon your ideas and follow them through until the end.
And while the journey can be an exciting one, the prospect may seem daunting initially. Despite what statistics may say, the financial rewards can be great and many who have achieved success will tell you they couldn’t think of doing anything else.
You Have an Idea, Now What?
So what exactly does it take to become successful in the area of interest you wish to pursue? While there is no simple answer to this question, there are simple things you can do to establish, manage and further your entrepreneurial career.
To help you increase the odds in your favor, the following tips will set out and explain a method for you to follow when putting your ideas into action.
1. Create a Unique Selling Proposition
You might be asking what a unique selling proposition is and, well, it’s essentially what defines your business in the marketplace and is what provides your business its competitive edge. This is often one of the first things you’ll need to think about as it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into and how you can set yourself up for success.
Ultimately, setting up a unique selling position will require you to:
- Understand your target audience: You can’t be advertising to every individual or group, and as it happens, you shouldn’t be. Use demographics to narrow down your audience and only target those most likely to respond to and buy into your business proposition.
- Find your niche market: This is the optimal operating position for your business and goes beyond targeting those who you will be selling to. Think about where your product fits in and what benefits it can provide.
- Know your competitors: Sometimes knowing what your would-be competitors are doing will help you to come up with ideas on how to proceed. Doing your research is a great way to get ahead and learn from the past mistakes of others.
Once you’ve defined your unique selling point and thought about some of the ways you can potentially introduce it to your audience, you’ll need to bring it to life.
2. Set Aside Your Start-Up Funds
Nothing happens in business without money, unfortunately, and you really don’t want to set yourself up for failure by getting into debt early on. That said, you won’t require all that much in capital (usually only a few hundred dollars) to make a real go of your ideas.
The first thing you need to do is establish and raise your profile online and offline by:
- Setting up a website: Luckily, there are many inexpensive web-hosting service providers to choose from and most of them will suit your needs.
- Creating promotional materials: Design your business cards the way you want them and regard them as giveaways at the best of times.
Once you’ve developed those things, you can try setting up a (free) Google AdWords account to track your promotional efforts and boost the visibility of your online content.
3. Develop a Plan of Action
Resist the urge and don’t go overboard as action plans are meant to be flexible and easily modifiable. As such, you should include:
- An outline or vision document detailing the next three, six and twelve months.
- How you will manage the finances and what steps will be taken to reduce risk.
- What changes you will have to make to your website as your business grows.
- Any plans for new products or services and how to implement them.
This is your opportunity to explore how your ideas will change and expand over time. Don’t over-think things and just do as much as you feel is necessary to give you a clear direction going forward.
4. Put in the Hard Work and the Hard Yards
Remember, putting your ideas into action for the first time may produce results you hadn’t thought of. When that happens, it is important to maintain a positive attitude and:
- Learn to let go: It’s okay to experiment along the way, and when things don’t work out as you planned, you need to give yourself permission to fail. It may sound strange, but your success depends upon it.
- Expect the unexpected: If you keep it in mind your plans are not set in stone, you will see your career trajectory begin to follow an upward-trending arc — plan for the worst but aim for the stars.
- Enjoy the journey: It’s quite common to feel like you’re flying blind when pursuing your business goals. Try to understand the creative process is part of the journey and find ways to get excited about the future.
Success only comes with hard work, planning and a little (or a lot) of luck. Remember that positive planning is just as important as achieving success, so by the time you achieve it you’ll know exactly how you got there.
5. Track and Monitor Organization Performance
Lastly, an important step when putting your ideas into action is to track your progress so you can easily figure out where you need to improve and so you can replicate the results of successfully implemented ideas.
One of the best ways to go about doing this is to set up a financial dashboard that can be used to monitor and evaluate the performance of your business. In doing so, you will be able to make better sense of the numbers and answer the following key questions:
- Are you spending more money on the business than the business is bringing in?
- Has the budget changed over time and how do the figures compare to the estimates?
- Is the target demographic converting and, if not, what can be done to improve sales?
Not only are financial dashboards essential tools for organization, they can also support data-driven decision-making, which is vital to implementing effective ideas.
While this list only touched on a few of the ways you can put your ideas into action cohesively, there are certainly many more directions and routes you can take to the same end. All that you need to do to reach your goals is take that first step and continue until you arrive at where you want to be.