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5 ways to turn your best ideas into successful reality

95% of new products fail. And 90% of startup companies don’t make it. Here’s how to beat those daunting odds.

5 ways to turn your best ideas into successful reality
[Source images: mhatzapa/iStock; Ice Tea/Unsplash]
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Have you dreamed of writing a novel, learning a new language, or building a treehouse for your kids but never got around to it? Welcome to the world of ideas. Great ideas aren’t rare, but turning them into a reality is. That’s why 95% of new products fail. And 90% of startup companies don’t make it.

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It’s not because of a lack of ideas. It’s often a lack of execution. Successful execution takes consistent, disciplined steps, deep commitment, alignment in direction, collaboration between teams, and honest improvement assessments. That means working differently, bringing together business strategy, creative experiences, and technology from the start. It’s a way of working that we here at PwC developed called BXT.

All of those areas touch your idea and make it real, but they need to work together. The faster you can go from an idea to reality to scale, the faster you can add to your revenue model. Think idea to beta in 10 weeks or less. Once it’s real, you hone it. Refine it. Improve it and plan strategy, marketing, and iteration. Committed companies quickly turn ideas into high-performing products—even during these difficult times.

How do you make it happen?

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Put the user first

Good product design is a formula—a combination of understanding people, translating data, and predicting trends. Ideas that succeed tend to focus on problems rather than solutions. A solution in search of a problem isn’t often usable.

And a wake-up call: We’re all attached to our favorite brainchild. But you are an audience of one, a single data point. To elevate to the right idea, put yourself in the end user’s shoes.

Figure out your customer’s pain points. What causes the most headaches? What needs aren’t being met? Think about how users will interact with what you’re creating.

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Take Chipotle. The burrito giant needed a new way to create meaningful relationships with its customers, transcending typical fast-casual programs. Chipotle learned from existing customers, identified, communicated, and rewarded them—and it grew the business. In just 18 months the company strategized, designed, tested, and launched a loyalty platform across 2,500 stores. It worked. Chipotle clocked one million enrollments in Chipotle Rewards in the first week and experienced a 99% increase in digital sales year-over-year.

Get everyone on the same page

The trick to product liftoff is gathering diverse perspectives and getting everyone on the same page. This includes stakeholders representing different goals across the organization and people at all levels—from those who interact with customers to executives setting the strategic agenda.


Related: The hunt for big ideas

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Once you have the right folks pulling in the same direction, keep the momentum rolling. The goal is to get buy-in and engagement from everyone—not just the C-suite. And to work quickly, everyone needs to be running toward the same finish line, not handing off and hoping for the best. A dedicated group of people should see the idea through to reality, quickly.

The fuel for speed is cohesion. Ask your team: What does success look like? What will help bring this idea to life? How can we ensure the product will keep pace with changing customer behavior? The answers will become your North Star.

Stop overanalyzing

It’s better to be decisive and start down a path. Analysis is good, but many business leaders get caught in “paralysis by analysis.” They want to make the perfect decision every time. Decisions are going to be right or wrong based on unforeseen factors. You could spend years researching every pro and con, but that isn’t likely to help you launch a more successful product. It will instead drain your creativity, deplete your problem-solving ideas, and burn your team out. Don’t allow the wrong kind of doubt to creep in. Break up big decisions into digestible bites. What decision do we need to make today? Are we overcomplicating a simple solution? What concerns might naturally work themselves out when we see how people interact with it? 

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Make your idea real and get it out into the market. The old crawl, walk, run mantra used to work. That’s no longer the case. Today it more closely resembles walk, jog, sprint. Launch a minimum viable product to a wider circle than you used to. You can adjust, shift, or pivot later. And make customers a part of that process to show them that you’re paying attention.

Design to scale

Any brilliant idea is doomed if it reaches only a limited few. “Designed to scale” might sound like a buzz phrase, but if you scale faster you can explore new revenue streams faster. You can reach customers in new ways and even redefine how consumers experience your brand.

That’s why it’s vital that what you’re creating is flexible and can accommodate shifts in customer demands. Things change fast, so your product should evolve to cater to shifting consumer needs without a massive overhaul. Think two steps ahead. What might change in the next three months? How could this scale in three years? How can we help ensure widespread adoption down the line?

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Look for the pivot

Problems—and solutions—are rarely static. Adapt as your customer needs evolve. Designed to scale is great, but designed to pivot is even better. Address new complications or situations that you might’ve missed (while not overanalyzing) as the market and people change how they interact with your product. Iteration is part of innovation.

Go back to your end users. What they already like about the product is important, but it doesn’t upstage their suggested improvements. Is it easy to use? Does it make sense? Does anything seem clunky? Is anything missing? What do they wish it did? Take note and act fast.

Get comfortable letting go of what doesn’t work. Don’t hang on to a feature because it’s your favorite (remember, you’re an audience of one). Evolution is where the magic lies. Rally your teams around the same goal, and be prepared to evolve rapidly. If you’re able to solve problems faster, tap into your people’s collective creativity, and keep the end user at the heart of problem-solving, your idea has a better chance of landing in the 5% that succeed.

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Tom Puthiyamadam is the Digital Products & Consumer Markets Advisory Leader at PwC.