Deciding to start a business is an exciting, pivotal moment in an aspiring entrepreneur’s life. It’s also when the real work begins to turn an idea into a profitable business model.
There are many different ways you can approach the business launching process. In this five-step guide, we’ll cover how you can start planning and take that plan through to execution.
Create a Business Plan
Drafting a business plan is the most important step in the planning process. It covers all the basics about your business, from your target market to your financing strategy. This document will act as your guide going forward and keep you on track as you pursue your business goals. The process of putting this document together will also be beneficial, as it requires you to do ample research about your business market and apply critical thinking.
There are many basic business plan templates online. Additionally, look to your local Chamber of Commerce to see if there are any free resources they can provide to help you get started with your plan. This process can also help you get the legalities out of the way and better understand the registration process.
Product Refining and Testing
Many entrepreneurs prefer to refine and test their product before launching their business. This is because it allows them to ensure the product idea has merit and identify any key issues before investing additional resources in starting the business. During the product refining and testing phase, you’ll create your prototypes and parts in a smaller setting to assess their performance.
Having a prototype before launching your business also serves another purpose: financing. There are some financial institutions or investors that wish to see a tangible product before providing funding, rather than hearing about a great idea. Having a prototype on hand shows that you can make the product you intend to sell.
Make it Official
During your business planning phase, you should research which business structure would work best for your idea (a limited liability corporation (LLC), incorporation, sole proprietorship, etc.) and what local and federal processes you must go through. For example, finding and registering your business name is often a process that takes place before you can start your business.
Get your proverbial ducks in a row and make your business an official entity. You’ll want to have this done before moving onto the next steps, as any potential changes before it’s official could be costly. The exception is for social media and email addresses– you’ll want to reserve your potential business name on these platforms as soon as you decide upon them. If the name changes due to unavailability, these can be changed as well.
Now is when you’ll approach potential investors that you had outlined in the business planning process. Additionally, you can start to build up some word-of-mouth awareness by telling your contacts that you’ve officially started a business, even though it’s early days.
Create and Implement a Marketing and Launch Strategy
Business success is largely about building a strong brand. Creating a marketing strategy that reflects your brand– from the way you speak to customers to the values you wish to convey– will help personify your business and make it more approachable to customers.
Start thinking about how you’ll build up hype for the official launch of your business. Will you create a social media marketing plan with paid Facebook advertising? Will you submit press releases to local news agencies and hold a grand opening event? The options are endless when it comes to creating a marketing strategy. Ideally though, you’ll get people talking about your business before you even open your doors.
Create a strategy that outlines your launch marketing strategy for the months and weeks leading up to launch. This should tie into a larger marketing strategy that will cover the months following the launch. Think about your logo and color scheme, the frequency of your social media posting, and any cross-promotion opportunities with other local businesses.
Put Up the Open Sign
Once you’ve created your launch strategy and followed through on its execution, it’s time to open for business. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your business strategy or marketing efforts are set in stone; now is the time to see what is and isn’t working with your target demographic and adjust accordingly.
One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is getting caught up in the daily work and neglecting the core business strategy. Take time every day to reflect on how things are going, how they align with your brand, and what you can do better tomorrow. Once you’ve accomplished the launch of your business, it’s time to set new goals that will help you become more successful in the years to come.