How do you get from business idea to a real launch?
Once you’ve done it a couple of times, starting a new venture becomes much easier and more streamlined. It’s always unique, and you’ll always have learned how to do it better. Many of the things that seem to take weeks the first time, can take minutes for future launches. It’s just that first one that can put you in completely new territory.
A lot of mistakes are made in the process by virgin entrepreneurs. Most aren’t deadly, but they can prove to be very expensive later on. These eleven tips to launch your business will help you skip the pitfalls and start on a better foundation.
Find Know Your Why
Why are you doing this? Why are you planning to do it this way? Dig deep. Own it. Be able to convey it clearly, quickly and passionately to others.
Start Building a Community
Don’t wait till your doors are open to start trying to find your customers, and then immediately have to hard sell them to keep the doors open. Start curating your community today. Then you’ll open with an existing audience you have relationships with and have trust with. Along the way they’ll teach you a lot and help you get the product and marketing right the first time.
As I’ve covered in other articles, you don’t necessarily need a fully fledged, fat stack of paper of a business plan to start. Things move too fast today. They will inevitably change multiple times along the way, and certainly when you raise funding. Do go through the process of answering the questions a business plan requires. It will make sure you aren’t forgetting things. Too many entrepreneurs and business ideas with potential have been lost by those taking many months and years to create a business plan which is ultimately useless.
What you really want to focus on here is an executive summary, a plan for the initial marketing you will test, and some financials. Especially cash flow projections. Plus your pitch deck. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash. Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).
Who Will Help?
You can’t make your dreams a reality if you can’t find the people. You can have amazing drawings for a building, the money to build it, a cheap deal on the land, and end buyers eagerly putting up deposits just based on your designs. Yet, if you can’t find the contractors to build it, and do it well and on time, you’re not going to get that building built.
Start identifying who you need, and securing them. As the saying goes, “if want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.“
Start Testing Get Feedback
By now you’ve had plenty of contact with plenty of people. Start testing the waters. Show them your idea via your pitch deck. Put up a ‘coming soon’ landing page and see if you can get early subscribers. Your list of emails will be very valuable to foster loyalty.
By this point you know you are going through with building this business. You are committed. You know who your initial founding team is. You know why you are building it, and in turn what type of structure you need for that culture and desired exit.
You can file a LLC and get a tax ID number online in less than an hour. However, if you plan to raise funding and really do anything sizable with this venture, invest in a good attorney to ask the right questions, get the paperwork right, and structure shares and voting rights in the best way for your future plans (and in case they fall apart). In the event you are looking to raise significant financing a C-Corp in Delaware might be the way to go as that tends to be the desired structure by investors.
Get a Business Bank Account
You can probably do this online. If you are starting a lean startup, make sure you don’t have minimum balance requirements or a bunch of fees that will bleed you dry.
Know how much money you’ll need. Add some cushion to that. Start talking to investors as early as possible. Establish credit lines now for any unexpected emergencies or cash shortfalls later.
Hire a Writer
Kickoff Labs actually lists this as the second thing you should do to launch a business. A professional content writer is going to be invaluable from day one to your exit. They will help craft your branding, taglines, elevator pitch, pitch deck, marketing plan, landing pages, emails, social media profiles, and everything else. 90% of your success may rely on these words.
Test, Test, Test
Get a landing page live, be prepared to take orders and money. Even if that it just through invoices and PayPal. Start seeing if you can land real users and bring in real money. Keep tweaking and polishing through this process. Save all your data. You can also use tools such as Google Analytics to see how customers behave with your product which might help in guiding with future decisions.
Congratulate yourself for making it this far. Celebrate it with everyone who has been a part of it. Make this a monumental moment for all of your contacts, backers, and friends and family. Don’t blow all your funding on it. Do, make it memorable and tie great emotions to your brand, while making a lot of noise about your product or service. Make sure to invite influencers and press to get coverage as well as additional exposure.
Just get moving! There will be lots of decisions to be made every day. You won’t get them all right. What’s important is that you keep moving forward. You’ll have to learn to adjust on the fly anyway.
It’s ideal if you have a consultant or someone who has been on all sides of this (founder and funder), and been through it all to give you some feedback and guidance through the process. They can help you ask the right questions and watch out for what you don’t know, and maybe supersize your potential.
If you can’t afford that help, or haven’t gotten those introductions yet, I strongly suggest listening into the DealMakers Podcast to hear how other successful founders have made it, as well as what investors are looking for.