ideasYears ago I used to work with someone who was full of ideas. No, I mean, many of them were really, seriously good ideas. Okay, some were klutzy, ill-researched mere brain dumps, but there were many that had real merit.

They’d tumble out of this person’s mouth in a torrent, like confetti. At first I was mildly amused, sometimes even interested. But eventually it got to the stage where I dreaded hearing of yet another great scheme, another towering, money-making skyscraper of a proposition.

It wasn’t because I’m a negative kind of guy. On the contrary, I wouldn’t still be in business now if I was the type who stuck a pin in every balloon that floated past my face. The trouble with all these great ideas was just that; they were only ideas.

Without implementation, they were…worthless. I would say to this person “That’s a really good idea. Now, go and get it done.” At which the retort would be something like “Well, I don’t know how/don’t have time/I’m the ideas person…”

And that’s where everything fell in a heap, dissolving away as a lone snowflake melts when it hits the ground. I find this happens in a lot of salon businesses. I call it “Implementation Reluctance.” During a mentoring session with one of our My Social Salon program members recently, I referred to my notes from our previous session, during which she’d excitedly told me about all her marketing plans for 2014, and all the ideas she had.

“So, two weeks ago you gave me a list of strategies you’re going to put in place this year,” I said. “What have you done about this one?” And I detailed exactly what she’d told me she was going to do.

“Oh, actually I got a bit busy…”

Okay, what about that idea you had about competitions?

“Um, well I told one of the girls about it, I don’t know if she’s done anything yet…”

It was much the same dithering for half a dozen other ‘great ideas’. In short, precisely nothing had actually been done. Sometimes, even when fully-equipped with all of the brilliant online and offline marketing tools, advertising templates, processes and systems contained within the world-famous My Social Salon program, it’s sometimes surprising to find salon owners paralyzed into inaction, enriched with excuses as to why they can’t get things done. Now, if this sounds kinda familiar to you, you’re far from alone. According to Harvard Business Review authors Robert Kaplan and David Norton, “…failure rates [for planning implementation] are reported in the 70 to 90% range…”

Here’s the Big Fact:

The ability to execute strategy is more important than the strategy itself.

A brilliant plan without implementation is actually worse than a so-so plan implemented with passion and persistence. And over-analysis is one of the biggest implementation-killers. I see this all the time, salon owners tying themselves into knots of inactivity by trying to second-guess every possible permutation of possible outcomes, even if there’s a minute chance of ‘Situation C, D or E’ actually happening. The Second World War in Europe might well have been over by Christmas 1944, instead of May 1945, if the Allied generals had not so often replaced aggressive action with over-cautious, paralysing inaction. (In fact, the Germans fought better than the Allies almost right to the end. The Allies eventually won only because of their overwhelming superiority of men, machines and supplies, not because of better implementation.)

I’ve lost count of the number of times over the decade since I founded Worldwide Salon Marketing I’ve been approached by ‘entrepreneurs’ (i.e., opportunity seekers) who’ve been excited by the possibilities of licensing WSM’s systems and intellectual property for other non-salon market segments (e.g., chiroptractors, or veterinarians, or landscape gardeners etc etc). No sooner have I confronted them with the size of the task of implementing their ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme – the infrastructure that has to be put in place, the sheer amount of material that has to be written, the online and offline processes – they quickly fade away into the shadows.

Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. "What we have here, is a failure to communicate."

Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. “What we have here, is a failure to communicate.”

Back in 1967, a young Paul Newman starred in Cool Hand Luke, plating a recalcitrant prisoner who refused to knuckle to the rules, and was punished relentlessly. The chief prison guard made the now-famous observation “What we have here, is a failure to commuuunicate.”

In business, what we have here is a failure to implement.

Here’s how I get things done (implemented). It might help.  Presented with a new idea, a strategy, any kind of ‘action plan’, I first write down a comprehensive, very detailed list of what has to be actioned to implement the strategy. Let’s say, for example, that we want to promote a series of education seminars to salon owners.

1) I write down, or print out, a list of our potential attendees – their names, salon names, addresses etc.

2) I (or one of my staff) set down on a calendar the proposed dates for these events.

3) Then we work backwards from those dates, making a ‘timeline’ of what has to have been done by certain days/weeks, for example, venues sourced and booked, deposits paid, speakers alerted etc.

4) The marketing of any product, event or service is actually more important than the product or service itself. So I spend a lot of time working with my team on what has to be put in place to market these events. For example:

a) It’ll need its own website/blog/Facebook fan page. So, who’s going to actually set these up and write the content for them? This is one of the most time-consuming but important tasks of all, requiring a wide range of skills. It can’t be done haphazardly.

b) How are we going to drive traffic to these landing pages/order forms/fan page? Who’s going to do what, by when? All of this goes on the main calendar, and reminders set in the online calendars of all individuals involved, so there are no excuses like “I forgot” or “I didn’t know about that bit.”

c) Print media – eg magazine advertising. Which magazines? What are the artwork/copy deadlines? Who’s going to write and design the printed material, by when? (Again, diarised.)

5) Event co-ordination, ticket sales, name tags, travel and accommodation; allocation of responsibilities.

6) Post-event marketing and product/service delivery requirements.

This is just a partial list – there is much more to it, but it gives you an idea of framework. You can apply this whole process, for example, to any kind of salon birthday event, ‘client appreciation’ evening etc.

to-doThen – crucially – at the end of every single day, I write a bullet-pointed list of ‘action steps’, things that actually have to be done the very next day. It’s invariably a long list. And here’s a tip: if you ever get to the end of a working day and your desk is clean, every item on your day-list ticked off as ‘done’…then you haven’t put enough things on your list! Success is messy, chaotic, full of loose ends. Neatness and orderliness might be attractive, but it’s full of invisible holes.

(Back to that My Social Salon member above: if she’d done just ONE thing, taken just one action towards implementing her stated marketing strategies in the ten working days since I’d last spoken with her, she would have accomplished ten things!)

As entrepreneur and angel-investor Amy Rees Anderson writes, “Great ideas are a dime a dozen. People who implement them are priceless.”

toolkit1Want help with ideas and how to put them into action? Each month, we accept just five new salons (worldwide) into the world’s most comprehensive online and offline marketing & mentoring programs, developed only for salons & spas.

Check out how you might qualify for the famous My Social Salon program here.