10 Initial Steps Every Startup Should Take Before Launch Day
Preparing for the launch of a company is usually an exciting, but somewhat stressful process, especially if you’re approaching the endeavor with a realistic mindset. While optimism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, being a realist will help you prepare for all of the potential pitfalls that could cause certain aspects of your business model to fumble or fail altogether. You might think that your business idea is so great that it’s fail proof, and it might just be if the right steps are taken along the way, but there are always things that can go wrong in the world of business. With that said, here are 10 steps every startup owner or manager can take before launch day to minimize the chances of encountering stumbling blocks:
1. Incorporate Using the Right Company Structure
First and foremost, you need to decide what kind of corporation your business will be. There are a number of options in this regard, but the only one worth suggesting for most startups is the Limited Liability Company (LLC) structure. The process for setting up an LLC will vary depending on the state your company is going to be based (e.g. when you want to form an LLC in Florida). You can find detailed, state-specific guides that will walk you through the process of incorporating your first LLC. For example, if you’re wondering how to start an LLC in Florida, you can follow these steps from HowToStartanLLC.com.
2. Prepare a Content Strategy
Your company’s online content presence will be one of the most pivotal components that contributes towards the overall success of the brand. This step can be taken months before launch day to begin building hype and awareness. Creating extensive pre-launch exposure is a great way to generate widespread public interest and potentially attract the attention of investors as well. In addition to publishing pre-launch content, you’ll also need to prepare content strategy that will be implemented during the first few months of operation to generate momentum.
3. Create a Marketing Plan
Following a set direction for your startup’s marketing campaign will ensure that you’re maximizing productivity and taking a strategic approach in all promotional efforts. Your marketing plan should include details like which websites you’re going to guest author on, which advertising methods you’re going to utilize, which keywords and demographics you’re going to target, and any other factors that will play a direct role in the implementation of your marketing plan.
4. Participate in Consultations
All entrepreneurs should be able to admit to themselves that they don’t know everything there is to know about conducting business. Seeking guidance from professional consultants is a particularly wise move if this will be your first startup, but even if it’s only your first venture into a specific niche or industry, you might want to seek specialized advice as well.
5. Test and Look for Ways to Improve Products and Services
You might think that your product or service is already perfect as it is, but adding a few new features might just give you the competitive edge needed to create real momentum for your brand. Offer samples of your product or service packages to a small group of professionals or incorporate this suggestion into the previous step to receive feedback from trained consultants. The more testing and tweaking you do, the more likely it is that your catalog will be a smash hit from the very first day of business.
6. Make Sure You’re Ready for the Rush
Overselling is one of the biggest concerns for startups because most businesses start off with a relatively small team. Plus, since the entire firm has to build experience starting on launch day, you’re going to be doing a lot of learning and adjusting in the beginning. Soliciting more clients and purchases than you’re able to handle might seem like a great problem to have, but it can actually hurt your reputation early on, which is something that you really can’t afford as a burgeoning startup.
7. Learn About SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential topic to learn about for any new business owner who plans on generating sales and finding new clients/customers online. There are plenty of SEO courses that will teach you everything you need to know to play a hands-on role in the advancement of your brand’s web presence. Even if you plan on hiring an SEO agency to take care of this step, it’s still helpful to know the basics yourself.
8. Make Sure Your Website is Top-Notch
The appearance of your site should be on a par with competitors in your industry and should convey the utmost professionalism before you start trying to solicit clients. The most reliable way to ensure that kind of aesthetic appeal and functionality is to hire a developer who specializes in the content management system (CMS) you’re going to be using. You could also take a course on WordPress or Joomla development to take the independent route if you’re confident in your ability to do so.
9. Have a Customer Support Hotline
Nowadays, it’s too easy to get a 1-800 number and have it forwarded to your personal smartphone or a remote call center service. This minor expense will have a significant impact on public perception of your brand because consumers will be able to see that you have a 24-support line available, which instills trust and confidence.
10. Provide Live Chat Support
Live chat support is another simple feature to add to your website, yet it can make a huge difference in that it gives you the ability to accommodate interested site visitors on the spot without any delay. If you stick to email communication, there will be a percentage of prospects who may lose interest by the time you respond to their email. Plus, the lure of getting an instant response motivates more people to submit inquiries.
Positioning is Everything
Although the way you treat customers and do business after launch day will obviously be crucial, never underestimate the importance of preparation and planning. If every startup took the steps listed above, the rate of new business failures would probably decrease substantially.