Starting a business is a big deal. Given how much is at stake, it’s not a decision to undertake lightly. And once you make that decision, you’re driven forward by both fear and excitement to do as much as you can right away. But before you open your doors (be they physical or virtual), there is a lot of work you have to do to ensure your business launch is set up for its best chance at success.
Double-check your preparedness
You have a great idea for a new product or service, and you have a plan for getting it in front of as many prospective buyers as possible. But when you’re thinking of advertising, you also have to consider where you are with the rest of your company. For example:
- Is my website where it needs to be, in both appearance and function?
- Is the business ready to fulfill multiple orders in a timely fashion?
- Is there a structure in place to handle support for customers?
It’s usually better to wait until your business is ready rather than figuring it out as you go and running the risk of offering a bad product or experience.
Like your personal reputation, you can ruin your business’s reputation forever by not being prepared. You only have one chance to launch your product or service. Do not go live with real paying customers too soon. Find a trusted group of test customers — a beta group of acquaintances, if you will. (I’ve found that friends and family sugar-coat their feedback in an effort to spare your feelings. Your business needs more honest critiques than that.)
With Traklight, we had an “alpha” group that helped us create our website’s FAQ. This group of acquaintances also happened to be full of entrepreneurs, and the honest, well-formed feedback they provided was invaluable to me. When we moved to online beta testing, we again turned to groups of relevant acquaintances.
Be OK with — or without — competition
Sometimes, your company may be the first in a particular area or market. While this means less competition, it also means that you must forge your own path; there are no lessons to glean from those around you. It’s on you to create awareness for your product or service, and figure out what works when it comes to messaging. And for all your hard work, you’ll likely find competition soon entering your space.
But having a competitor isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
In addition to helping you maintain a sharp focus on your processes, methods and goals, competition is validation that there is a market out there for what you’re selling.
Email with caution
A mistake that many startups make is launching without an email or contact list. Given how noisy the marketplace can be, you can’t launch a business hoping that word of mouth or serendipity alone will bring you traffic.
But you have to be careful with how you obtain that list — and how you treat the people on it. Many people are already hesitant about emails from companies they don’t know, and more still are frustrated by receiving a flood of emails from the same company. Even if they were the ideal customer for whatever it is you’re offering, chances are they’ll be put off by the way you’ve gone about selling if you’re coming on too strong. Being respectful of a potential customer’s time and exercising restraint will go a long way to avoiding a string of complaints.
Know your end-goal
When you started your business, you (hopefully) had a goal in mind. Your goal doesn’t have to be to grow your company into a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate; it could be something more modest, like providing a good product at a reasonable price and making a comfortable living, or eventually exiting your company to retire or start a new venture.
Regardless of what it is, having a goal in mind is crucial. You need to have something that you’re working toward — something that makes the long hours and hard work worth it for you. Having a goal in mind allows you to work backward from there and figure out what you need to do to achieve it.
Understandably, your goals can shift and change over time, but keeping the end in mind will help you stay on the path to achieving whatever it is you’ve set out for yourself.
Now you have the basics to plan your business launch. Get ready in 3, 2, 1 ...