Many people launch a business and expect customers to pour through the door, but that’s not always realistic. There are several essential things that an entrepreneur has to do in the month they launch. Check out 11 of the steps you should take before and after officially opening to ensure success.
Business planning is one of the most important things to do before starting a business. You can use your business plan to persuade people to work with you or invest in your company. Here are a few more things that you should do before your business launches.
Build a Community
Creating your own community or being an active member of others related to your industry can help you strengthen your company’s presence. Therefore, you can introduce your product or service before an existing target audience and build relationships with them to acquire new customers.
Test and Get Feedback
Beta testing your product or service is a great way to collect valuable feedback to improve it before the official launch. Whether you create a product or provide a service, you can often get effective and unbiased suggestions from industry experts.
Know Your Audience and Industry
Know your potential buyers and their needs, understand the industry you wish to enter, and get a feel for the category’s major players. Understanding your target audience can help you develop a marketing strategy to get your company in front of a large group of potential customers.
Create a Pre-Launch Page
Design a website (or hire someone to do so), and put up a “coming soon” landing page to get early subscribers. A pre-launch webpage is one of the best ways to collect email addresses, describe your product or service, and provide users with the company’s contact details.
Conduct Market Research
Gathering information about your potential customers and businesses already operating in your area can help you find a competitive advantage for your business. Feedback from customers, competitor analyses, and SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats) analyses can help you ensure that you’re on the right track.
Outsource a Professional Writer
A professional writer can provide you with engaging content for your taglines, marketing plan, landing pages, emails, social media profiles, website and other marketing materials. They can also help you build your brand credibility by writing niche blog posts, vision and mission statements, articles and newsletters for your company.
Determine how much money you’ll need to start your business, and if you don’t have that amount in hand, evaluate where you’ll get the capital. Prepare a plan for funding your business – you might use personal funds, take help from friends and family, seek venture funding, get grants, or borrow from a financial institution.
Choose Your Business Location
Whether you set up a brick-and-mortar business or launch an online store or service, the location you choose could affect your taxes, legal requirements and revenue. Therefore, you should select a space that fits your needs and budget, and if you’re planning to work from home, create a space for your home office to minimize distractions. Once you've selected the physical location, get it listed with Google Places and other online directories.
Register Your Business
Once you’ve finalized your business name, make it legal by registering your business with the federal, state and local governments, if required. If you've got an innovative product, also file a patent for it.
Get the Required Licenses and Permits
The licenses and permits required for your business will vary by industry, state, location, and business type. Staying legally compliant and having relevant documents in place can help you run your business smoothly. You can consult with an attorney to acquire the legal documents necessary to protect your business and rights.
Create a Marketing Plan
Once you know who you’ll be selling to, figure out low-cost ways to start marketing to them. Customize your marketing plan according to the target customers. Plan the content you'll share in your email marketing campaign, newsletters and social media marketing to engage your audience.
Promote Your Launch
After finalizing your business name, logo and website, start promoting your business launch. Use banners, ads, signs, brochures, promotional items, special offers, videos and flyers for the promotion. Make sure to invite influencers, community members, networking groups, and social media followers to attend your launch event and invite press to get coverage.
Performing the above essential pre-launch activities can help you avoid potential risks and start with a better foundation. With the following post-launch steps, business owners can successfully grow their startups.
Get Federal and State Tax IDs
Entrepreneurs need an employer identification number (EIN) for different purposes, like opening a bank account and paying taxes while managing their business.
Open a Business Bank Account
Having a business bank account can help you manage your finances and handle day-to-day accounting issues. Set up a business bank account early to separate your business and personal finances.
Choose a Business Structure
There are several ways to structure a business, depending on its type and location. The legal structure of your business can help you determine your registration requirements, taxes and liability. Therefore, get expert advice to choose the right business structure and file the necessary paperwork.
Prepare a Long-Term Strategy
A company’s long-term strategy includes financial projections, long-term goals, a plan to achieve those goals and parameters to measure business growth.
Prepare a detailed budget for operating expenses, payroll, marketing costs and product development. When you know how much money you’ll need, start finding investors to establish credit lines for unexpected emergencies or cash shortfalls. Also, understand what metrics different investors are looking for so they’ll feel confident investing in your company.
Attend Networking Events
Attend networking events to create your brand identity and build relationships with different investors, mentors and other entrepreneurs in your industry. You should attend events like trade shows, conferences and seminars to network with more people and increase brand awareness.
Many businesses depend on vendors to provide high-quality goods and services at an affordable cost. Therefore, start looking for the right ones you need at an early stage.
Bring in Professionals
Hiring or outsourcing experienced professionals for legal and accounting advice can help you manage various other business responsibilities with much less effort. Identify who you need, why you need them, their required skills and experience, and the cost you might incur. These professionals can handle the following tasks on their own, thus saving you time.
- File tax returns
- Manage your finances
- Help you obtain the right types of insurance.
- Create policies that can protect your new business.
- Help you stay up-to-date with the employment laws and regulations governing businesses in your area and specific to your industry.
Select the Right Software and Tools
Choosing the right software or tools can help you automate or streamline different tasks, such as email marketing. It can also help you take orders and money from customers and save all your transactions in one place.
Market Your Business Online
Use different marketing channels and social media platforms to promote your products and services and acquire early customers. You can use tools such as Google Analytics to track website traffic, so you know which marketing channels or strategies are effective or where you need to improve. You can increase your brand awareness and customer engagement in the following ways:
- Mention a free demo for your service on the website to develop an email subscriber list.
- Update your website with relevant images, useful videos, the latest market and industry trends, product updates, etc.
- Work to optimize your search engine optimization ranking.
- Run targeted marketing campaigns to build up your web traffic and social media following.
- Collaborate with influencers to promote your products, generate leads, and get access to loyal followers.
- Cultivate and promote positive online reviews to showcase the good will you’ve earned.
- Ask your customers to review or rate your product or service after purchase.
- Run a contest to create buzz around your brand. Ask users to join your email list to win a prize at random or based on a set of guidelines.
- Offer special deals and promotional products to your early customers. Limited-time offers can propel the first month's sales and growth of your new business.
- Monitor keywords associated with your brand and request backlinks.
Build Customer Relationships
Highlight customer stories on your website to share the ways others are using your product or service. Build a support team to keep your customer service transparent and reliable. Start a loyalty program to thank your customers and incentivize them for repeat purchases or for providing referrals.
Find questions related to your business niche on sites like Quora, and provide helpful answers or other valuable insights. This way, you can promote your brand to a ready-to-listen audience and highlight the benefits you offer.