Many people have great ideas: innovative businesses, social enterprises, and transformational charities. Whilst they may get off the ground alright, many of them fail in the end. Why? They neglect to do the basics.

The magic of an idea is not the idea itself; it’s in the execution.

The problem is that execution is usually the ‘grunt’ work. It’s cleaning up the mess behind the scenes, balancing accounts and doing stock takes; no sexy presentations or clever marketing storylines. It’s doing the things that aren’t fun, which is why they often get overlooked. But the people who roll up their sleeves and get it done are usually well rewarded.

There’s a story of an entrepreneur (I forget the source) who bought a plumbing business and multiplied the business' revenues, even though he wasn’t a plumber himself. His secret? He followed up on all inquiries. Don’t worry about implementing the latest and greatest CRM solution; if you’re not following up on your leads effectively, you’ve got bigger concerns.

It’s also helpful to stress test your ideas when working on your next big idea.

Are there any assumptions taken for granted in your visions of success? What are the levers that will drive profitability or success? How can you validate them in a low stakes environment? Understanding these things will lay a strong foundation for whatever comes next, or possibly facilitate an early about-turn.

It’s the age-old advice, “make your bed first”, only a lot more work.