Ideas are cheap! Execution is everything.

Ideas are cheap! Execution is everything.

By Elias Pacheso


This is week we will focus on one of the most misunderstood topic in a start-up’s journey, “Execution”. So you have a brilliant idea which will save the world or wait a minute, turn you into a billionaire. Most start-up founders dream about this and little else. Very little time is spend on planning the journey to your first sale and so often the thousands of dollars that are needed to build the business never come and the start-up dies.

Without understanding what leads to failure, many founders move from one failure to the next and often give up. As a start-up advisor for Tech Hub Harare we come across so many stories like these and we try and learn from them and guide founders to avoid such pitfalls in the future. Many start-ups in Zimbabwe have some much going for them and when one looks at why they don’t attract the right interest from investors it often boils down to one thing – execution failure.

Before we move to this important subject it is important to refresh your memories on why it is so important to know the problem you are trying to solve before you embark on your journey. Know that a start-ups’ journey is full of traps and obstacles. If you don’t identify them early and know what they are, your chances of succeeding become limited.

 Anyone can think of a start-up idea and many people have been thinking about implementing them. Successful start-up plan and follow their execution plans religiously. In Zimbabwe so many start-ups fail because they don’t have a framework to follow. Not enough time has been spent trying to find the best framework to use to developing a start-up in Zimbabwe.

Through my interactions with many start-ups both local and foreign, it very clear that many start-up founders in Zimbabwe don’t spend enough time ideating and so when they launch they stay small and never move the needle. What do I mean by this? When Mark Zuckerberg thought of his Facebook idea, it began at college dorm room, but he had bigger plans for it and was open to refining his start-up along the way, building it into the empire it is today.


Don’t limit yourself and by all means dream big. Is the problem you are trying to solve just a Zimbabwean problem. Can you start a business that addresses other users' needs elsewhere in Africa or indeed the world? The recently concluded Youth Connect Start-up Bus Tour showed me that Zimbabwe has so much talent and people with scalable ideas that can be adopted and used in other countries. The winner of this years’ competition is making roof tiles from plastic waste! Here is why her idea will work. There is so much plastic waste in the world today and more importantly in Africa there is a huge housing deficit.

Think about it, if the idea is executed well, it has so much going for it. Her start-up will rely on plastic waste. When trying to develop this idea further it becomes clear that her success hinges on how she will make it easy to gather or collect and sort through the plastic waste. Profits will come from the keeping the costs of acquiring her raw materials low and producing the tiles close to her market, people constructing houses. This not exhaustive but you get the idea. Many start-ups fail because they don’t spend enough time figuring out what needs to be done and doing it. If you can’t measure it you can’t change it / grow it.

Follow this quick formula when designing and embarking on your start-up journey

  1. IDEATE – Think through your idea, the size of the market, how you will reach the market. The size of the market and the type of customers you will serve. This sounds easy but it is not, otherwise everyone would be turning ideas into businesses fast. Many start-up founders come up with ideas only to find that the market is not there or is not big enough to sustain and build on.
  2. IDEA VALIDATION – Try the idea out and see how the market reacts. Tweak the idea and refine it. Build your team and talk to your customers to understand and solve their pain points. 
  3. CREATE – This is the fun part and most difficult of the steps covered so far. Many start-ups die here because they fail to translate their ideas into repeatable steps and processes. It is important to know that all successful businesses rely on doing the same thing over and over again. Yes they refine their processes from time to time, but they really on their tried and test models of reaching and addressing customers’ needs. See why it is important to spend a lot of time on steps 1 and 2.
  4. GROW THE BUSINESS – Once you have a product growing the business is the next thing and things really get easier. Because you have proven there is a market and you have a way to solve problems for people who are not only willing to repeatedly pay for it over and over again its easy for you to scale. Even speaking to an investor or Bank is easy when you have customers and a product.

Looking at these 4 steps you can see that this process is very easy to repeat for every idea you might have. I like the idea of failing fast. Try all the promising ideas and see whether they get past stage 3 and repeat. One day you will find a business that will go past this step and get funded.

Tech Hub is helping start-ups grow. If you would like to be part of our workshops and training kindly get in touch with us via our email [email protected].

  • Posted on 15 September, 2019
  • by Administrator
  • Startup