3 Things You Need to Do Before Your Business Launch

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The $100 Startup" by Chris Guillebeau. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How do you execute a successful business launch? What do you need to do before you go ahead and launch your product/service into the market?

Once you’ve created your product or service, it’s time to start planning your business launch. To maximize the chances of your launch being successful, there are three things you must do before you go ahead and put your product/service out there.

Here are three things you should do as you plan your business launch.

Planning Your Business Launch

First-time entrepreneurs often dread launching their idea into the market, which is why they so easily fall into the trap of “perpetual planning.” If this happens, you may spend years trying to make the perfect plan and never actually turn it into action. Instead of overcomplicating things, take action quickly and adjust your plan as you go. But before you do, make sure you’ve done the following:

1) Market Research

The first thing you need to do before your launch your business is to ensure your product is marketable because, if it isn’t, you’ll struggle to convince people they should buy it. To check if your product is marketable, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is the market big enough? Research keywords and phrases on Google and other search engines to see if a large enough number of people are interested in buying the product.
  2. Does your product solve an apparent problem? It’s easier to sell the solution to an apparent problem than to sell the solution to an unknown issue. 
  3. Does your product make life easier or better? While selling a product that focuses on desire or luxury is possible, more people will be interested in a product that removes hardship or improves standard-of-living.
  4. Does your product offer a better solution than other products? Look at the issues customers have with the current market. Knowing what makes your product better than or different from the competition makes marketing much easier.

Once you’re certain your product is marketable, start planning the details of your launch. As preparation for the launch, develop an offer and create a one-page business plan.

2) Develop an Offer

Once you have your product in mind, develop an offer based on the value of your product. An offer consists of four parts:

  1. An explanation of your product and its cost
  2. An explanation of the benefits your product provides
  3. Pre-emptive solutions to frequent objections
  4. A reason for people to buy your product right now

When developing your offer, use the following format as a guide:

  1. Overview
    1. What is your product or service?
    2. What is the cost of your product?
    3. What audience would purchase your product right now?
  2. Benefits
    1. What is the primary benefit of your product?
    2. What are the secondary benefits of your product?
      1. What’s the most impactful one?
  3. Objections
    1. List the three main objections customers have to your offer.
    2. List three counter-arguments to address these objections.
  4. Urgency
    1. Why should customers want to buy this right now?
    2. What could you add to make this offer more urgent and enticing?

 A successful offer consists of three elements:

  1. Alignment with your audience. You won’t get very far if your product doesn’t appeal to your target audience. For example, if you run an online Excel course, you’ll likely have more success targeting young accounting professionals than young artistic professionals.
  2. An enticing promise. The value of your product should be on display. For example, if you’re selling a coupon book, marketing the amount that people can save will draw people towards your product.
  3. The right timing. If you release a brilliant product at the wrong time, it will likely fail. For example, if you create expensive, luxurious clothing, launching in the middle of a recession will significantly limit your client base.

3) Create a One-Page Business Plan

As well as creating your offer, you should also draft a business plan. Some entrepreneurs believe in building a long business plan that outlines every facet of their organization. However, these can get confusing and complicated, leading many investors to skim through the material without really grasping it. Instead of making more work for yourself for little benefit, make a one-page business plan that investors will actually read, using the following format as a guide:

  1. Overview
    1. What do you plan on selling?
    2. Who do you think will buy it? 
    3. What problem does your business solve?
  2. Finance
    1. What do you plan on charging?
    2. How do you plan to process payment?
    3. Are there other ways that this product will bring in income other than direct sales?
  3. Marketing
    1. How will people find your business?
    2. How can you incentivize referrals?
  4. Measure of Success
    1. This business will be successful when it has ___ number of clients or makes $__.
  5. Obstacles
    1. List 3-5 concerns or questions about your business and offer solutions to those concerns. For example, if you’re building an online kitchenware store, your concern may be, “How do we ensure fulfillment of purchases?” Your solution may be, “We plan on subcontracting a local warehouse to store our excess inventory and oversee the delivery process.”
  6. Deadline
    1. We want to launch our business on ________.

Mission Statement

In addition to your business plan, you should form a mission statement, or an explanation of the central values upon which your company is built. This statement should be no more than 140 characters and should explain in simple terms how your business can help people.

For example, if you run a day-care center, your mission statement may be, “I help working parents feel comfortable with using a day-care center by giving their children personalized, quality care during the workday.”

Launch Your Business

While every business launch has different goals and obstacles, all of them require pre-launch preparation and active participation during the launch cycle.

Pre-Launch Preparation

A successful launch relies on thorough preparation. To prepare for launch day, create a launch plan, build anticipation, and set yourself up for success.

Create a Launch Plan

There are a lot of moving pieces involved in a launch, and the more planning you do, the more smoothly your launch will run. Your launch plan should outline:

  1. The time and date of your launch
  2. The length of your launch cycle
  3. Any promotions you’ll be running
  4. The roadmap for your marketing efforts

On top of preparing your product and marketing for launch, make sure you’re ready to receive the proceeds from your customer purchases efficiently by doing the following:

  • Inform your bank of potential incoming funds to prevent them freezing your account. Create a backup plan in case the bank freezes your account anyway.
  • Diversify your payment options using services such as Paypal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Venmo.
  • If you’re selling a high-priced item, create a payment plan if you can. This allows more customers to purchase your product, even if they don’t have enough money to buy it outright. Alternatively, you can incentivize full payment by offering a discount.
Build Anticipation

Build anticipation by slowly feeding information to your target audience. This will create hype and get consumers excited about purchasing your product. For example, film studios release lots of pre-release information about movies, including teasers, trailers, interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage.

As you start to promote your launch, use the following tips:

  • Reveal the time and date of your launch well in advance. This allows you to set clear preparation deadlines for yourself while also building anticipation in your audience.
  • Provide an early preview of what’s to come. Build intrigue by revealing that you’re working on something big, but don’t give away a lot of details.
  • Once you’ve teased your project, constantly explain why it’s important, and how it’s going to benefit your audience. 
  • Reveal your launch plan. Tell customers when and how they can buy your product as well as any pre-order or early purchase bonuses you’re offering. 
  • Give last-minute reminders just before launch. Just before you launch, remind customers that your launch is just around the corner, and that they’ll soon be able to buy.

To help build anticipation, answer the following questions:

  • What makes your product stand out against competitors?
  • What bonuses, discounts, or incentives are you offering at launch?
  • How can you make your launch fun or entertaining?
  • Can you make a video or audio message to accompany your product?
  • What time-sensitive incentives can you use to create a sense of urgency?
  • Can you create custom products that are only available at launch?
Set Yourself Up for Success

In the days leading up to your launch, take the following steps to help you run your launch day effectively:

  • Read and proofread all launch materials more than once. You’ll likely find errors or phrases that sound awkward.
  • Test every step of the order process more than once. This includes checking your web links, running test orders, and checking your payment processing systems on different devices and browsers.
  • Register any closely related domains to your official website, including different suffixes such as “.com,” “.net,” or “.org.” Domains are inexpensive, and you’ll want to get as much traffic as possible.
  • Check that all uploaded files are correct and complete. You don’t want to accidentally prevent a customer from getting your product because of an upload error.
  • Keep your inbox clean to ensure you’re seeing any messages relating to your launch.
  • Craft a strong launch message for your audience.
  • Ask for help from friends, family, and business contacts to spread the word about your product.
  • Write to media contacts about your launch.
  • Post to social media about your launch, especially platforms you have a following on.
    • Have your launch day media prepared in advance.
  • Create an automated thank you message to send to every buyer.
  • Create a follow-up schedule. 

As you approach launch day, a variety of issues may arise that could tempt you to delay your launch. Barring absolute disaster, you should stick to the deadlines you set. Constantly delaying looks bad to customers and may keep you from ever actually launching your product. 

3 Things You Need to Do Before Your Business Launch

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Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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