Don’t think of launching a business as a sprint to the finish line. It’s more like a marathon that requires the proper training, equipment, and support. It may sound nice to send a few tweets to garner thousands of eyeballs to your business and watch it instantly take off, but reality is a little different. Expect months of planning and a slow, steady build-up.
In this third article of our four-part series on how to launch a business, we explain how to get your business up and running with these proven best practices:
1) Create a business plan – You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, so you shouldn’t launch your company without a business plan. This outlines every aspect of your business – its purpose, your approach, what your product or service offering will be, who your audience is, how and where you’ll advertise, what research you’ve done to validate your idea, when you’ll hit your milestones to go from funding to profitability, and how your company will deliver on your promise. Money Magazine says it takes three years, on average, for a new business to become profitable, though 47% make a profit during their first year.
2) Build a website – If you build it, they may come. The website is especially important in giving possible investors, customers, and visitors a quick snapshot of the idea you’re trying to launch. Initially, your site can be five pages and can grow later. Make sure you clearly outline the point of difference of your product or service so people instantly “get it,” and hire the right talent to write and design it so it looks professional.
3) Know when to launch your company – Websites are usually beta tested or “soft” launched by friends and colleagues to test the various pages on different browsers and computer screens to make everything works right. The next phase is the real launch to a wider audience. When all is right, alert everyone you know that it’s live through email and social media, but don’t expect an immediate flood of customers. It takes time to build momentum.
4) Hire the right people – Your company is only as good as your employees, so hiring the right marketing and sales people is absolutely essential. Be creative about how you approach their compensation. If you have limited funds, offer a generous program so they make more in commission than salary. If you want to keep them happy, check in with them often but don’t put too much pressure on them right away.
5) Market and start selling – If you’ve done any research, you’ve already determined the right price point for what customers are willing to pay. But what media will you use to reach them? Start with small space ads in local newspapers and magazines. Put up some signs in your area. Perhaps use local radio or cable TV if you have the budget. But absolutely don’t forget to help potential customers find your website with Search Engine Optimization keywords. A copywriter or SEO expert can help you do that, too.