Entrepreneurs and Execution

“An idea can be as flawless as can be, but its execution will always be full of mistakes.”
Brent Scrowcroft

Every entrepreneur knows that great ideas come relatively easy, compared to the execution required to develop the idea into a profitable business.  As Novelist Sue Grafton said many decades ago

“Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.”

The Challenge of Execution

Entrepreneurs are rarely short on determination. They are hungry, focused, talented and determined to succeed against the odds. Having been lucky enough to work with some of the most successful, determined individuals on the planet – ranging from leading attorneys to battle hardened special forces personnel to traders at the very top of the global investment tree, I have no hesitation in stating that many entrepreneurs pursue their goals with equivalent levels of determination and resilience.

Yet despite this determination, so many entrepreneurs fail because they never manage to consistently execute in a manner that propels them forward to success. Though much is written about strategy, as well as featuring heavily on most MBA programs, little is taught about execution. This results in entrepreneurs consistently spending time and energy doing the wrong things at the wrong time in the wrong way.

Software Isn’t the Solution

Ten years ago, when working in a startup, my number 2 was a very experienced and highly effective executor who had consistently ensured that multi-million dollar projects for large global companies were delivered on time and on budget. This included a complex tech project valued at over $100 million.

Although she used a Gantt chart religiously (even to run her personal life!), she always maintained that successful execution was about mindset, and that no software program could ever be a substitute.

When Life Gets in the Way

There are many reasons why entrepreneurs fail to execute successfully, with a range of solutions available. One of the most common causes of failure is life getting in the way. This includes an entrepreneur’s personal and professional life.  Things that are urgent (but not necessarily important) take precedence over activities that are critical to startup success but not seemingly urgent as they can always be done tomorrow…

The human condition is such that things that are urgent have a disproportionate feel of importance. Couple this with a tendency for people to be reactive and urgent will always trump important.  Nothing short of reviewing each urgent issue through the filter of ‘is this also important?’ will ensure you win the battle of urgent versus important.

When Focus Leads to Failure

Another common barrier to effective execution, that I have noticed when working with entrepreneurs, is a laser like focus on the goal being pursued, at the expense of focusing on the daily processes that are critical for success.

It is obviously important to have clear, measurable goals that are written down and reviewed on a regular basis. When working with clients I often use processes grounded in Neuro-Linguistic  Programming (NLP) and Neuroscience  to help instil the goal deep in a person’s psyche . This increases their drive and resilience to the inevitable obstacles that get in the way when you try to achieve something great.

But at the same time, it is important to understand that an obsession with achieving ‘the goal’ or ‘outcome’ can cause an entrepreneur to apply insufficient focus to something that is far more important; the identification and consistent execution of the key processes that are essential to achieving the goal.

Martin is the Founder of the Investor Pitch Clinic, creator of the Execution Edge Video Coaching Program and author of ‘Here’s the Pitch’.

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About Martin Soorjoo

Martin Soorjoo is the founder of San Francisco based Pitch Clinic. Over the past 25 years he has advised, coached and worked with Senior Executives, Investment Bankers, Venture Capitalists, Angels, Startup Founders, Attorneys, Judges, Politicians and other high achievers. Martin works with his clients to increase their Performance, Productivity and Presence. He also helps them create and deliver high impact presentations, whether they are delivering an important keynote address, raising venture capital or seeking a senior position in a company or public body. A former award winning attorney, Martin is the creator of 3XP Performance Coaching and and author of 'Here's the Pitch - How to Pitch Your Business to Anyone, Get Funded and Win Clients' published by Wiley. During his career at the Bar, Martin was consistently rated by the world’s leading legal directories as a ‘leader in his field’. He is a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and expert in body language and performance psychology.

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