TIPS FOR Launching your business
1. Know Your Offer
Launching a business has never been easier. With a few clicks and an afternoon spent designing in Canva it’s possible to have a business move from idea to launch within 24 hours. Yet, taking the time to figure out exactly what you’ll sell and the margins surrounding it is vital to long-term success.
As simple as it sounds, spend some time reviewing exactly which services or products you’ll sell, at what price and to whom. How long will they take to create? Who else will you need to fulfil them? What’s the mark-up (on your own sales channels and for wholesalers/affiliates)? What’s the frequency of launching new products? How many clients will you need to make a profit from your service offerings? If someone asks you to sum up what you do in one sentence, could you? These are all basic questions you need to know the answer to prior to launching. While your business will adapt to market changes or shift to suit change in lifestyle (kids etc.) a strong foundation (research, industry/competitor profiling, audience mapping) sets you up for the greatest chance of success. A tool like MindMeister can help.
2. Build An Audience
When it comes to launching a business today, don’t take on a Field of Dreams mentality (“build it and they will come”). The internet is bursting with businesses going broke because little time was invested in building an audience before launch. In practical terms this means launching your chosen social channels (you don’t have to do them all!) and, more importantly, directing people to some kind of email capture form (so you have someone to “launch” to). Mailchimp is one of the easiest email platforms to use and now has landing pages you can create quickly as a placeholder/email capture site prior to launching a full website.
If you’re using Instagram as your main social channel, consider adding LinkTree to your account. This allows you to override the one-link-only rule in an Instagram bio and house multiple links for free, such as ‘join the waitlist’, ‘about us’, ‘find a stockist’, ‘in the news’ etc.
3. Start Small (Stay Strong)
You may have plans to #buildyourempire, but when starting out it’s best to start small and stay strong. What does this mean? Narrowing down on what you offer and doing the best possible job of that before adding to your bow. This may mean having just a few products in various colours or flavours.
For service-based businesses, it may mean focusing on one area of expertise such as digital marketing or eCommerce website design. While the sisters behind Mustard came up with all sorts of things they could sell, their success has come from focusing on one thing (lockers) and doing it well. Brands like Warby Parker, Thank You and Go-To are fantastic examples of having few initial products but doing them really well before expanding.
4. Cultivate A Crew
Launching and running a business is hard work and for many of us, we will start our biz as a solo operator. Essential to your mental health is having a support crew you can turn to. In the workshops I run with clients I ask them to divide this into their “inner crew” (the people you’ll call when you land a dream stockist or when everything’s gone to the dogs), “internal crew” (your suppliers, contract designers, staff etc), “external crew” (networking groups, professional groups you belong to, cleaner, nanny, accountant), “content creators” (those you can tap for content such as videographers, designers, writers) and your “bounce-offs” (people in the same industry, usually with more experience, that can act as a mentor you can bounce-off ideas with). Start with friends and people you have worked with, and consider finding others via networking groups, education hubs (like General Assembly), closed FB pages (i.e. Likeminded Bitches Drinkling Wine) or Design-er Therapy or attending events with like-minded people (i.e. Creative Mornings).
5. Embrace Experimentation
Successful business owners accept that change is inevitable, and understanding who your audience is and what they most want is a result of experimentation. When you’re launching a business don’t be afraid to experiment. Try Google AdWords, test out different hashtags, collaborate with #likemindedpeople, test an opt-in to capture emails, pitch your business with different hooks to the media and bloggers. You won’t know what works until you test, test and then test again. Embrace the uncertain, it’s the only way to grow.
Fiona Killackey is a business consultant and coach and the founder of My Daily Business Coach a consultancy that provides business coaching and consulting, branding + marketing workshops and creative ideation. Fiona will be teaching her Marketing for Your Business and How to Get Published workshops at General Assembly Sydney and Melbourne this June. Find out more here.