Are you considering launching a business? Not everyone fits into the regular working world, and it’s easy to see why some reject the office life of clocking in every day to make someone else rich. If you’re one of them, you have three realistic options:
- Endure it until you have the money to escape,
- Find ways to make it tolerable (changing your working conditions, or working fewer hours*, etc.), or
- Go into business for yourself.
* Note: launching your own business, most often requires you to work more hours than you did before. However, the rewards of working for yourself can't really be measured.
Ths blog offers some insight when it comes to launching a business.
More and more frequently, free spirits and ambitious professionals alike are choosing that last option and reinventing themselves as entrepreneurs. They set out to run their own companies, delighting in the prospect of controlling their destinies and not having to answer to anyone.
This is easier said than done, though: plenty of businesses built by seasoned campaigners fail to get anywhere, so the chance of a first-time entrepreneur getting it right immediately is relatively slender. It isn’t impossible, though — it just requires you to be fully prepared before you launch, completely sure that you have everything you need to succeed.
So what do you need to get right before launching a business? In this post, we’re going to run through the absolute minimum of what you need to nail. Let’s get started:
The brand identity
From the moment a business launches, the elements of its brand will start to leave impressions, and this power can be wasted if they’re mediocre, outright bad, or simply missing. Take a logo, for instance: launching without a logo looks unprofessional and gives the impression that the company isn’t ready, but using a bad logo isn’t a good idea either. Accordingly, everything from the logo to the marketing slogans should be fairly polished before launch.
The growth plan
How is the company going to win its first customer? What about its hundredth customer? An early growth plan shouldn’t be incredibly detailed, as there’s no way of knowing exactly how things will pan out, but it should feature viable marketing and networking tactics.
How will the business expand and change over time? Set a target that can reasonably be approached within the first year. If you’re starting with a solo operation, sketch out a hiring plan (you’ll likely need staff eventually, particularly if you’re in retail). If you’re launching in a limited market, figure out where you’d like to be selling in 12 months, and come up with a sensible way to get there. Meaningful growth isn’t automatic.
A company’s website is incredibly important, serving as its online hub, attracting visitors, and producing conversions. While it’s natural for websites to change over time, it’s important to avoid launching with a poor website — first impressions are essential in the digital world, because if someone clicks on a site once and doesn’t like it, there’s no guarantee they’ll ever give it another chance. Invest in website development, and make that first impression count.
Every who is launching a business should plan on a a regular workload that can be broken down into distinct tasks, regardless of what specifically it does, and there are three key factors: repeatability, consistency, and efficiency. It can be tempting to launch a business with an ad-hoc approach to getting things done, but that’s ill-advised. Stability is essential. Before launching, then, entrepreneurs need to ensure that they have their regular business processes mapped out (particularly since they may need to take on staff at some point, and training resources are necessary for on-boarding).
Barring the rare exception, a first-time entrepreneur isn’t going to launch their business with a massive budget surplus. It’s most likely to be done on a shoestring budget, possibly requiring some borrowing early on. This in itself isn’t a huge problem — but it is risky, and it’s a great idea to minimize that risk by creating a financial plan. It should fully list the available resources, detail the expected operational expenditure, and look ahead to notable milestones (with the main milestone being achieving profitability, of course).
If you’re launching a business for the first time.
You don’t need to get absolutely everything right to have a shot at succeeding — but the more thoroughly you prepare and guard yourself against common challenges, the better your chances will become. It will cost you time and money to get these things right, but not as much as it would cost you to put everything into a failed launch. Fail to prepare, and you prepare to fail.
This is the 2nd guest post by Rodney Laws, an ecommerce platform specialist and online business consultant from Ecommerce Platforms. He’s worked in the ecommerce industry for nearly two decades, helping brands big and small achieve their business goals. For more tips and advice, reach out to Rodney on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.