We all love to dream. Dreaming frees us up. It moves us away from the ordinary and let's us temporarily believe in the extraordinary. Many startups begin with a dream. And they should, as dreaming is a two-way street—both shaping our desires and influencing them. Dreaming, though, is only the beginning of a startup. In order to turn dreams into realities, four keys must be in place: plans, people, milestones, and action

  • PLANS: Sometimes our dreams can become so familiar that they take on a life of their own. They become rehearsed stories in our minds. We can even convince ourselves of the ending before we've opened the book. I mean, reading takes time, right? And who has time to read the book when you can just guess. Guessing then causes us to second-guess; and we keep the dream locked in our minds, rehearsing what we would do, but not doing what we could do. Our minds can convince us to run towards our dreams or run away in fear. The best way to move forward? Plans. Plans—written down, no matter how rough—unlock our dreams and are the first steps at turning thoughts into actions. 
  • PEOPLE: Your dream needs a team. Once you've written down a plan, you should be able to identify your areas of competence, as well as those roles that still need to be filled. The best teams understand each other, understand their roles, and understand the objective. Likemindedness is crucial to startups. Simply possessing a needed skill set cannot be the litmus test for team building. A team built on skill alone may start off strong, but often falters as members focus on fulfilling their individual roles instead of fulfilling the overall objective. 
  • MILESTONES: A plan can be as simple as a rough outline of ideas. These ideas come into focus, though, once we solidify them in time. Putting dates and deadlines to plans helps us prioritize our steps as well as provide an ongoing evaluation of reality. Once you begin to map the steps needed in order to fulfill your dream, you'll often discover that one step leads to two additional. This is why milestones are so important. It's easy to become discouraged at the number of hurdles between you and your dream. However, breaking the dream down into realistic timelines and attainable, smaller goals will help keep you on a steady track of success while on your way to fulfilling the dream at large. 

  • ACTION: Each of the keys above requires an amount of work. And each one is vital. Don't have a plan? Most dreams will remain simply distant ideas. Start acting without a team? You could get overworked. Move forward without milestones? You could become discouraged. However, once these items are in place—plan, people, and milestones—the real work begins. As you gain traction in each of these areas, the dream becomes larger. What was once a dream now seams more of a reality. However, it's important to not stop. With a team by your side and a roadmap in place, it's easy to plateau in evaluation mode. More people means more creativity, and ideas will start to flow. However, rather than getting bogged down with an influx of ideas, set a time for brainstorming and evaluation. Make them their own milestones. Whatever you do—and you should be doing!—keep the dream in mind and ask yourself if your actions are taking you closer to your dream or farther away. 

Dreams are wonderful. But in order to make them a reality, you'll need more than a dream. With the right plan and team in place, dreams move from a destination of what could be, to a journey of what is. 

Stephen Palacino