It’s an old cliche among entrepreneurs: execution is everything. As much as this is repeated over and over again, there are still way too many of you who talk about your ideas. I am going to do this. I’ve got an amazing idea. When the time is right, I’ll do that. I just need the money, or the connections. When I’m ready, it’ll be huge.
I Invented Google Maps!
When I was finishing my degree at NJIT, my final paper was about online mapping software. I researched extensively about how computers could provide turn-by-turn directions and determine the fastest method to drive from point to point. I wrote a simple prototype where a user could enter start and end points of their trip, and the application would calculate the best way to drive there.
The paper was great. The application worked. The professor was happy with my research and I received a good mark in the class. It was a great conclusion to my time in school and I left it behind to start working full-time.
This was a couple of years before MapQuest hit the web, and a decade before Google Maps would revolutionize mapping applications forever. What would have happened if I had taken this work I had done, and dedicated myself to making it into a real service? Could I have gotten a ten-year head-start on Google Maps, thereby creating a massively successful product?
No, I Didn’t
No one cares about any of this. I had an idea, but I didn’t do anything with it. What might have happened, what could have been, is a complete waste of time. The developers at MapQuest, the engineers at Google Maps, and the corporate leaders who supported and promoted those projects are the ones who actually executed. They’re the ones that made things happen, and were rewarded for it.
Execution Is A Talent
This has been one of the great lessons that I have kept in mind throughout my entire career. When I wrote that paper, I wasn’t thinking as an entrepreneur. I didn’t see the long-term potential. It was a way to pass a class and graduate from school. In the process, I took away one of the best lessons I received. Being able to execute, to actually do something, is an immensely valuable talent.
Hard work and hustle are important. But, it has to be focused on actually achieving some greater long-term goal. Successful people are those who are able to take their ideas and pursue them to see when happens. Or, they are able to take ideas other people have, and make them into a reality.
Whatever your great idea happens to be, take some step today to start executing on it. It can be something small, but it has to be something. Every day that passes when that idea just stays an idea is a lost opportunity that is never coming back.