During his Entrepreneurship 101 lecture, Steve Carkner, CEO of Ottawa-based Panacis Inc., used many different ideas and words to explain how to convert an idea into a real product. Two of these ideas resonated with me in particular: having a common vision and having a plan.

Steve has been flying in from the capital each year since 2009 to explicitly stress these points to our Entrepreneurship 101 attendees.

Managing a common vision

When it comes to turning an idea into a product, having a clear vision and having a path to follow are key. The challenge here is that visionaries are not always the best equipped to explain their own ideas.

How can a marketer or an engineer work on your product if you can’t make clear what exactly it is? The solution is to develop a plan. Inspiration and passion are great, but direction is essential.

“The plan will result in easier development of a quality product that meets market expectations,” says Steve. It will also serve to reinforce your vision.

There will also be a moment where you will need help from others to make your idea happen. “Every good product requires a team to bring it to market,” explains Steve, and that may mean bringing in anyone from a marketing consultant to a freelance designer. You don’t want to waste time, money and effort by redirecting your partners and managing questions and doubts.

The four planning documents that will translate your vision

Each member of your team will need different information and guidelines to help him or her develop your product. Steve recommends creating four tailored planning documents.

  1. Customer and market requirements to guide sales and marketing activities
  2. Functional requirements to guide the engineer
  3. Product and engineering specifications to guide the design and iteration process and to help find the right balance between market needs and functional possibilities
  4. Test and verification specifications to check for quality, but also to anticipate the obsolescence of your product

Entrepreneurs often perceive planning as a lonely exercise. However, it’s important to remember that you’re developing a plan not for yourself, but for your team, your partners and your contractors.

So what’s your plan to share your vision and how will you make it happen?

Watch Steve’s full lecture here.

Produced by MaRS Media.

Next lecture: Meet the Entrepreneurs – Cleantech on November 13, 2013.

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Feature photo credit: The most … by Kate Ter Haar CC BY 2.0

Fayza Abdallaoui

Fayza works as the manager of entrepreneurship educational programs at MaRS, providing entrepreneurs across Ontario with intensive hands-on workshops to help them develop strategic components for their business. See more…