Sunday, April 6, 2014

3-2-1 Launch!

You've had an idea for a business for some time and you just don't know how to get it off the ground. You have the passion and drive, but you are just not sure where to begin.

Have no fear! Here are a few guidelines to get you on a path to a successful launch and on your way to entrepreneurship.

1. Plan 
Create a business plan that outlines your goals and how to reach them. It can be a formal document (see template), or a rough outline scribbled on a piece of paper. In addition to the business plan, you want to get direct experience, or plan to partner with experts in the industry you choose to launch your business.

2. Test 
Research is crucial to determine whether or not your idea will work. If you have a product, set up focus groups to test and record feedback. Talk to potential customers to gain invaluable insights. Learn all facets of your market – from production, suppliers/vendors, distributors and competitors – to establish solid relationships that will help perfect the idea behind your business.

3. Target
Know your customer – as they are the ones who will ultimately determine your success. Who will your products/services serve the most? What drives their buying decisions? How will you differentiate your products/services from your competitors? 

4. Resources
Establish your cash resources as you need capital for business start-up costs and growth. If you don't have start-up cash, secure a business loan, look to investors, or establish a crowd-funding campaign to raise the necessary funds to cover these costs. Estimate your expenses and potential revenue.

5. Legal
Protect yourself – and your idea – and choose the best corporate structure for your business. LLC's, S-Corps, and C-Corps all have different tax implications and liability limitations, so hiring a business attorney will be well worth the investment in providing the correct direction for your business.

6. Brand
Create a business name, logo, tagline, website and business card/print materials that are consistent and speak to the values that your product/services offer. Hire an experienced designer to research and develop these items to ensure your business has the utmost professional presence when launching. This alone will be sure to set you apart from the competition and make your business stand out to your customer base.

7. Market
Shout about your business from the rooftops! Write a press release and submit it to local media outlets/submit it online. Network in person with potential customers. Join groups and network with other business people who can spread the word or become customers themselves. Create a blog and write about your new business. Create a social media campaign and email marketing campaign and monitor the results. Take advantage of the opportunities that put your business in the spotlight.

8. Launch & Love
Be true to your ideals and values. Love your business, your employees, partners and customers, and success will be sure to follow!