Launching your business takes a lot of hard work and determination. However, many still believe that launching a startup is like switching on the light. Having launched a couple of businesses, I’ve realized that launching a startup is like launching an aircraft. You need to keep pushing till you hit the right speed and take off. It doesn’t happen overnight. Most entrepreneurs are so focused on their product or service that they don’t realize that it’s only a part of the puzzle. There are many more things you need to put in place before you can “launch” your startup.
Here are 7 things to take care of before you launch your startup. In fact, it’s a good idea to start most of them even before you start building your product or service.
Branding is one of the most important, and also one of the most neglected aspects of launching a startup. Most first-time entrepreneurs think that they’ll build a brand after they launch their product/service. On the contrary, it’s your brand that tells people who you are, what your business does and why they should be using your product. So build a brand that resonates with your purpose and keep it simply enough to be easily recalled by people. In fact, brand building takes time and you should begin at least 6-8 months before you launch your startup.
2. Domain name
Domain name is as important as your brand name and must reflect your branding strategy. It’s important to pick the right domain name, else it will seriously affect your SEO, social media and other online marketing strategies. For example, I’ve seen so many entrepreneurs use exotic domain extensions like .io, .pt, etc or hyphenated domain names such as alona-systems, alpha-shoes, etc whereas, if you mention your company (e.g Alona Systems) to someone, they’re mostly likely to simply use the .com extension with your company name (e.g www.alona.com) to look you up online. So purchase an easy to remember and unique domain name well before you launch your startup to make sure that you get the domain you want.
If you intend to launch a startup, then you must have your own website. Even if you own a brick-and-mortar store, have a website so you can promote your business on other website such as online directories and business listings, who will require to link back to your website. When you market your brand online using various channels such as PR, social media, interviews, etc. backlinks to your website will bring in prospective customers who will be able to find out more about your products & business, before deciding to make a purchase. It will also provide journalists & bloggers enough information to write about your startup, and help it grow faster. Ensure that your website is fast and looks great on all major browsers as well as mobiles.
4. Beta Test Your Product
Before you launch your product, it’s essential to thoroughly test it and fix any loose ends. Although you may have been testing your product for months, it’s important to expose it to a limited group of people who can mimic real-world users.
Invite relevant people from your contact list to try out your product and give an honest feedback. Avoid inviting friends, relatives and anyone who is emotionally close to you. This will help you get unbiased feedback. You should have reasonably good idea of the target audience for your startup, and invite only similar people from your contact list. To get more beta users, many entrepreneurs simply create a launch website with a sign up form, months before they launch their startup. As they build their product, they also keep aside some time to promote their launch page on social media platforms, via emails, and other channels. This will ensure that you have a healthy number of beta users available to test your product/service.
5. Social Media
Social media has become the hot favorite marketing tool for every entrepreneur. However, it’s important keep in mind a few things before you dive into social media marketing.
- Choose only 3-4 social media channels to begin with. This will make it easier to manage your campaigns, and understand what your target audience likes/dislikes.
- Set up a Facebook company page. With more than 2 billion users, you just cannot ignore the Facebook user base to promote your startup.
- Create a twitter page to get more followers. It’s a great place to share the latest news about your business, product as well industry. This will help establish credibility for your business
- Create a LinkedIn company page and post regular updates to it. LinkedIn is a professional social network that allows you to promote your startup in a variety of ways such as sharing posts & updates on your personal profile, company pages as well as relevant LinkedIn groups. Prospective clients use LinkedIn to research a company before making a purchase.
After you create a website for your business, you must add a blog on it. If you don’t have the technical expertise, you can always ask a web developer to do it for you. If you want to establish industry authority and improve brand awareness, blogging is one of the best ways to do it.
Blogging is a great way to share your opinions and ideas with a wider audience outside your social network. You can always share your blog posts on social media pages & groups, online communities, forums, syndication sites, and so many other online channels. You also get the SEO benefits for your content.
7. Email Marketing
Email is one of the most personal ways to reach your target audience, that allows you to customize your message for each recipient. Also, no matter what happens, we all check our inboxes at least 3-4 times a day. So if your message can make it to the prospect’s inbox, it’s very likely they’ll know about your startup.
In fact, even before you launch your startup, you can begin sharing your blog posts and other interesting content via emails. This will help you build brand awareness and help spread the word about your startup. It will also nurture leads who’ll be ready to buy your product/service when you launch it. Finally, when you launch your startup, you can also send them emails offering attractive discounts or free trials.
It’s not only important to execute the above tasks before you launch your startup, but you also need to sustain them for at least a few months post-launch. So it’s important to figure out how many people you need to launch your startup. You don’t need to hire a full-fledged team right away, as some of these tasks such as social media, blogging & email marketing can be handled by a digital marketer. You can even think of hiring interns, virtual assistants, remote workers or even freelancers to do some of these tasks. The key is to get have a clear idea of what you need to do, and who all will do it. Launching a startup is a formidable task, but if you plan and implement it carefully, you should be able to launch your startup smoothly.