If you're launching a new business we suspect you’ve been thinking about this and testing different aspects of your business idea for months—if not years. It’s your baby and you want the very best for her. You’ve defended the business plan to financiers, you’ve spent countless hours researching and preparing and you’re ready to launch.
So what’s your plan?
If you’re anything like the startups we’ve helped, you probably have visions of your logo on a corporate fleet, on billboards or splashed all over social media. You’re designing your corporate t-shirts and deciding which gadgets you want to brand as giveaways. Maybe you’re inviting friends to a launch party.
Stick with us, we want you to hear (read) this first. Your launch plan is just as important as your operating plan and it must be adequately funded. Consider these 3 things for a fail-proof business launch.
1. DEVELOP YOUR BRAND
First impressions count. If you introduce yourself to the market with a professional and robust brand you'll be taken seriously by competitors and prospective clients. Cut corners on your brand and you’re launching a hobby business from your back room.
What is a brand? At Two Four One we believe a brand is so much more than just a logo. It is who you are as a company—your values, services and benefits. Your logo and accompanying marketing materials are simply a visual reflection of that. So figure out who you are first, then hire a designer (This doesn't need to be expensive).
Developing a logo is usually done as an iterative process with a designer and marketing strategist. You would review why you're in business, who your ideal customer is, what competitive intelligence would play into your success, etc.
The logo is an indicator of your brand. Your brand is the 'bigger picture' and from the logo development comes the application of the logo in your brand—email signatures, business cards, brochures, web presence, electronic letterhead, social media imagery, etc. It all starts with your logo and brand development.
Designing a logo generally requires brand development. It sets expectations with potential clients. It establishes a reputation in the market and it determines how your future customers and your competition will position you in their minds. They will subconsciously decide whether to do business with you—or not.
If you already have a logo that you like, take the extra step to have it reviewed by a reputable designer. They will include a research component to protect you from any potential copyright violations from similar competing brands. Would you sign a contract for a multi-year deal without running it past a lawyer first?
2. DON'T PUT IT OFF UNTIL LATER
We’ve heard it more than once, “I don’t have the cash flow now, can I tweak the logo later?”
If your cash-flow is tight because of other operational commitments, you may consider applying for an Entrepreneur Loan from a local government or business support association, every city has a resource to help with this.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that ordering your ‘kit’ or your company car is more important to your business than a strong launch plan—we’ve seen where a new company has prioritised operational expenses at the cost of marketing. Remember you only get one chance to make a first impression. Many successful companies are built largely on a strong brand and marketing—Branson’s Virgin empire comes to mind.
There is a reason that most investors of large companies want to see a sound marketing plan (which includes branding), before committing their investment to a start-up company; the marketing plan is a key element of the business plan.
3. SET YOUR COURSE AND STAY WITH IT
Before you start posting excitedly on Facebook and Instagram, know your strategy—what will you post? And when, where, why?
On weekends it’s cool to post pics of dinner with friends or your daughter’s graduation, we all love seeing that, but when it comes to business your social media posts require more planning.
The hardest thing to do when you’re launching your new business is to refrain from impulsive posts. Every post must have a reason and there’s definitely a science to it.
The way to avoid the temptation is to hand it over to a third party, just to get you started—a bit like getting all the cookies out of the house when you start a diet! After a month or two of outsourcing, your third party provider can hand over a well-built platform with a social media management plan and schedule that will have your business solidly positioned on social media. Be mindful, of course, that your social media presence will also be more impactful with a solid brand. Please pass the cookies!