Strategies To Help You Launch Your Business Idea

There is no hiding from the fact that more people are launching their own businesses these days. It might be in terms of wanting more flexibility, a better lifestyle or money making opportunities to take advantage of. It is no longer a scary prospect for some, and can actually be one of the best moves you ame. But whether you are wanting to launch a restaurant, set up a  new boutique store or run an online business, there are basic strategies you can implement into any business model to help you succeed. I wanted to share with you what some of them are.

Having everything you need to move the business forward

It may sound basic, but sometimes you need to have the basics done right before you can move forward, dn in terms of business, that can often mean the right equipment, location and ambition to move forward. Your seafood restaurant, for example, will need relevant equipment like a Pin-boning machine, descaler or filleter. Your shop or boutique store will need the right level of racking and shelving to showcase the products effectively. Your online business may require good camera equipment for photographs, a decent computer or portable device to keep you on the move like a tablet. Basic things, but important to ensure that your business runs smoothly.

The right level of marketing and branding to succeed

Having a business and everything in place is one thing, but without good branding or marketing who is going to see it or know of its existence? It is now easier than ever to get the message heard about your business. From social media advertising to having a decent and responsive website. Most of which, can be set up with a little guidance yourself. However, taking the time to consider your branding, and also your marketing outputs can be key ingredients to success. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it there are plenty of digital agencies online that will help you in terms of strategy.

Prioritising your time and skills and putting it to best use

One big strategy I think many of us could do with improving is our use of time and skills and putting them to best use. We can all be guilty of not prioritising what we need to do in the right order, spending more time than we should on needless tasks and really not making the most of what we are good at and what can be outsourced for better performance and also a saving on your time. Time blocking and working out where you can make the most difference in your business is essential.

Thinking outside of the box and for the future

Finally, while it may not necessarily be a strategy for improvement right now, everything that you do will have a poignant effect on the future. Always keep it in the back of your mind about what the next step will be?

I hope that these strategies help you move your business idea along.

Roads to Recovery After a Failed Product Launch

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Working hard, taking risks, and failing nonetheless is a part of life – and it’s certainly a part of business life. The failure tastes especially sour when you’ve fired up an entire bottle of midnight oil and invested all of your energy and resources into the launch of this product, just to see it crash-land as soon as it’s unleashed.

Although most successful businesses today have experienced a few spectacular disasters through their life, all of them managed to pick themselves up and keep pushing forward. Their failure made them robust and innovative; learn from their mistakes and bounce back after the miserable product launch as well, stronger than ever.

Analyze the situation

When you’ve put your mind into recovering and not losing hope quite yet, the first thing you should do is to gather as much data as possible. You can learn so much from the way your product or service was received – and sometimes, you might even find that it was never a problem with your product in the first place.

It may have been the marketing strategy, how you presented it to the market, and whether or not you managed to communicate its purpose properly. A business can launch an exceptional product that should have been well-received, only to realize that the target group never really understood its benefits.

Talk to your customers

Reach out to a few of your customers and find out what they disliked about the product. This is the first step to recovery and a potential recipe for re-launching it with greater success than ever. Send out a survey in a newsletter and offer some form of reimbursement for taking the time to answer your questions – such as a discount or similar, and gather as much data from this as possible.

By looking at their answers, you may find that there was, in fact, something wrong with the product that should be fixed. Maybe you find that you never reached the people who could have loved the product, and you should find room for improvement with the product launch instead. Finally, it could have been challenges around the market you targeted that kept your product from soaring.

Improve the product

With the amount of data you have and the feedback you’ve received from your market, it’s time to get back to the drawing table. Sometimes, you need to make major changes to the product or service, and many business owners before you have scrapped the idea altogether when they understood the costs. You can easily apply for some of the best small business loans to improve your product and make the money back, though, so don’t let this stop you.

Implement the changes and present the new and improved product to the ones you’ve surveyed earlier. Explain that you have considered their opinions and tried to improve it before asking them to try it out and give some final feedback.

Maybe you still need to improve it – or maybe you’ve learned from your mistakes and created something brilliantly useful.

A failed product launch doesn’t have to mean disaster, especially not when so many successful companies have failed miserably just to grow stronger within a short year. The key to success is, of course, to analyze your mistakes and learn from them the best you can, giving the market exactly what they need in the end.

Test-Running A New Business Idea

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Photo courtesy of Max Pixel

Having a new business idea can be exciting, but before pouring all your time and money into it you should first test it out to see what it’s like in practice. A test run will establish any improvements that may need to be made to your business model, as well as providing essential audience research and feedback that you can then use to more effectively market your business. Here are just a few ways to give your product the best trial run possible.

Build a proto-type/test service

You don’t have to produce a full working business model just yet. Testing out the fundamentals is the most important part. If you’re thinking of starting a cake shop, try renting a stall out first for a day and sell your produce from there. If you’re selling a physical product, find a prototype manufacturer such as this sheet metal fabrication business that can produce a cheap and quick prototype. If you’re producing software, create a basic alpha version for testers to use.

Start marketing early

It’s okay to start marketing your product before it actually exists. By telling people that you’re ‘coming soon’ you can build up excitement that will help when you launch your business for real. Set up a website and social media pages and invite people to check them out. You should be able to get an idea of the demand for your product by how people react.

Use your close network

Family and friends can be useful to use when testing your business. They may be able to help you run a stall at a trade fair, preventing the need to think about hiring staff just yet. They may be able to act as a first client, allowing you to test your service out on them and get feedback. They can also help to spread news of your business idea via word of mouth.

Use a focus group of strangers

When it comes to constructive feedback, friends and family may not always offer the brutally honest criticism that you need. Organising a focus group of strangers and pitching your idea to them can be a way of seeing how your business idea will really get on in the market. Positive feedback can be used to help promote your business idea, whilst negative feedback can be used to tweak your business idea and make improvements.

Offer freebies

Don’t be too concerned about making money just yet – you’re still improving your business model. Right now you’re looking to simply test your business idea on as many people as possible, so entice them in by offering your services for free. If you’re hoping to start a restaurant, give people free tasters of your food. If you’re hoping to provide a fitness coaching service, offer people the chance of trial lessons. People are more likely to give constructive and friendly advice if you’re not asking money from them. Don’t be afraid to survey people after about how much they would pay for your service.

How to Launch a Product Like a Rock Star

Here’s a quick one-question quiz: What is the most important requirement for a successful product launch?

a.     A great product
b.     A market that wants a great product (Product-Market Fit)
c.     A great distribution plan to sell it
d.     A well formulated Go-To-Market Strategy
e.     All of the above

In a perfect launch, all of these components are vital to a successful launch. So by that logic, “e” would be the correct answer.

But of course, we don’t live in a world of perfect launches. Not even Samsung — which has had some amazing launches — gets it right every time. Most companies, whether start-ups or long-time players live in a world shaped by the laws of demand where low pricing can trump quality, and where targeted marketing, carefully crafted keywords, and social media engineering can build awareness, influence opinion, and generate sales.

And that means marginal products can outsell superior ones — just look at Microsoft vs. Apple. It took years for Apple to gain traction despite offering what critics consider to be a superior operating system. Then, there is 50 Shades of Grey. While many may consider it to be a cheap, trashy novel (and others are offended by its contents), it is one of the biggest selling novels of the century.

As for distribution, “smart marketing” can turn faulty launch distribution planning into buzz-worthy spin and drive more sales. How? Simply by positioning a lack of inventory (or understaffed customer service), as the result of “unprecedented demand,” and boom! A disaster is cloaked as a win. Remember the DVD (and later book) juggernaut called The Secret? It began as a small direct sales operation, with no plan for national distribution. When word of mouth grew, no retailers had the DVD to meet the demand. Getting The Secret, was, for a while, a secret. By the time national distribution was in place, demand was huge.

These are exceptions, to be sure. But I mention them to underscore just how critical item “d” on the list is. Go-To-Market Strategy planning and budgeting is just as vital to a successful launch as the product itself.

Why? Go-To Market Strategy is, in essence, the launch. It’s the beach landing and the strategy for taking the hill. It’s the complete plan to drive sales of a new product. It encompasses market analysis, pricing decisions, launch timing, channel partnerships, customer acquisition costs, building and training a sales force, distribution planning and budgets, customer service, PR, media, and establishing realistic short and long-term ROI expectations of the company.

You could have the best SaaS package on the planet, a must-have app, a killer API, or a smartphone that qualifies for MENSA, but if you don’t have your Go-To-Market Strategy for your SaaS, app, or AIP locked-up and budgeted correctly, your launch is at risk.

That’s because a product launch is a race against time fueled by finite resources. It is vital to make an impact as quickly as possible because product can be replicated and improved upon by competitors. If you are first-to-market, but the competition has more resources, stronger marketing power, superior distribution, or sales infrastructure, your primary advantage is time — you got to the market first — so use your 15 minutes of fame well.

Go-To-Market Strategies must ask and answer the crucial question: “How much money will it cost to scale the launch until incoming revenue provides sustainability?” The laws of demand and market realities dictate that the Go-To-Market Strategy for a $2 app is, in most cases, going to be very different from the strategy for selling $100,000 SaaS packages. Both have radically different sales cycles, but both must be budgeted accordingly.

For instance, selling platform licenses to entire companies, like the enterprise HR software Workday, takes much more time than it does to sell a new application for a smart phone. Even under optimum conditions, an instant sale is not possible for a complex, enterprise-based system. Buyers have to do their due diligence, understand integration issues, get sign-off, have lawyers approve the deal, and so on. So going to market means accounting for a sales force that will require a protracted sales cycle before closing a deal. And that means you will need significant funds to initiate, scale, and sustain your launch.

Conversely, you may not need a dedicated sales force to sell a $2 smartphone app or $.02 API. Of course this depends on a company’s business model. Seamless, the online restaurant food ordering and delivery service, gives users its app for free, and it’s a safe bet the company has budgeted for a sales force to locate and enlist new restaurant partners to expand its reach and increase customer usage. But your Go-To-Market Strategy budgeting is just as important when it comes to building awareness for your product, no matter how you’ve price it. In this case, a successful launch might not hinge as much on sales staffing and distribution as it will on ad-buying and buzz building. Once again, it is vital to have the ad and sales projections — and the required funds! —in place, so your product can start earning out.

There are, of course, many potential points of failure in any product launch. That’s why optimizing a Go-To-Market Strategy is so vital. And that’s why analyzing the launch in real-time needs to be part of that strategy. So that if traction is not realized, if something goes wrong with the product or its distribution, how do you react? What is the Plan B? The pivot, the counter-move? Does your strategy factor in the unexpected and is it budgeted to take those risks into consideration?

If those elements are not addressed, then your Go-To-Market Strategy is not ready, which means you’re not ready to mount your beachhead with your new product.

To go back to the question that opened this article, I hope it’s clear that the product is only half the battle. Awareness, branding, and sales conversion are significant launch drivers, as is creativity. Even if the product isn’t perfect, marketers have proven it is possible to create a demand for even the most suspect of products. We need to go no further than the Pet Rock for an example. No doubt, your business model isn’t built around a rock, but no matter what you are selling, or who is doing the selling, the most innovative marketers are armed with a well formulated Go-To-Market Strategy supported by the requisite funds, pricing flexibility and distribution channels to bring a product to market. And if they have all of the necessary components in place, then they are ready to stand and deliver. And launch.

About the Author

Brian GoodmanBrian Goodman is Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for Technossus, a rapidly growing enterprise-class software solutions and technology consulting firm that assists business leaders to accelerate change and deliver sustainable results. Brian has more than 16 years of strategic and operational responsibilities, with a successful record of building and expanding enterprises, from early-stage to divisions of leading international corporations across the professional services and software sectors. Recognized by OC Metro in its “40 Under 40” feature on rising stars in the business world for “breaking new ground,” Brian has become a business thought leader who is frequently quoted in the media and featured on business radio programs. He began his career in the software industry as a corporate attorney focused on private-equity financing and technology transactions, serving as senior corporate counsel at Paciolan, Inc. (acquired by Ticketmaster) and corporate counsel at internet and software company, AltaVista (acquired by Yahoo!).