Launching a business requires a strategic plan. Entering a market without a clear plan will lead to costly mistakes, wasted time and dead ends. Here some important steps to ensure your launch is a success.
1. Write a business plan. A business plan should include the following:
Vision – This is an internal inspirational statement that drives the company forward over the long term. This is also where you identify your company’s greater purpose.
Mission – This is the external manifestation of your vision. Ensure your greater purpose is integrated here.
Situation – What are you doing and why. Complete a competitive analysis.
Target Audience – Who will you sell to, where are they, and how many of them are there? This will influence all aspects of your plan.
Product – What is the unique selling proposition that sets you apart from your competition? What certifications do you require or want to pursue?
Pricing – How will you price your product? Conduct a competitive audit.
Channel – Where will you sell your product? What resources do you need to gain access to the channel? Where will you start?
Crisis Plan – Crisis is a lot easier to manage when you are prepared.
Financial Summary – P&L, balance sheet, cash flow.
Complete the following steps for the entire business, and then for each function (human resources, marketing, sales, finance, product development, regulatory, manufacturing, logistics, research, PR, corporate affairs).
Objectives – What you want to do and by when.
Strategy – How you plan to achieve your objectives.
Tactics – The tools you will need to execute your strategy.
Budget – What you need to spend to achieve your objectives.
Completing this first step will give you a business plan baseline, and force you to do the due diligence you need to move to step 2.
2. Mine your network. Now that you have identified the gaps in your plan reach out to your closest allies. Use networks such as LinkedIn to post questions, ask for introductions and find resources. Once you have exhausted your free resources and filled in a few more gaps, move on to part 3.
3. Interview the experts. Every industry has different regulations, processes, networks and norms. Determine which suppliers and consultants you will ultimately need to hire and interview at least two of them. Ideally find these resources through your network but if that’s not possible start with the top ranked firms that you find through organic search. You will learn a lot about the market through this interview process. Include this information in your business plan and move on to step 4.
4. Hire the experts. Your business plan is almost complete, and you can now clearly identify where you need help. Remember most successful business relationships are based on fit. Establish a basic list of needs and then follow your gut when it comes to making a final decision. A little effort and honesty early on will save you a lot of pain in the future.
5. Practice patience, and learn from your mistakes. No matter how prepared you are you will make mistakes. Maintain a learning mindset and plan for setbacks. You may also want to keep a contingency fund available for emergencies. Remember to update your plan regularly during your first year to capture the learning so you can leverage your new wisdom in the future.
Brand for Benefit helps companies transform their business through trust, purpose, and exceptional marketing.
CEO Carolyn Ansley is an award-winning marketer, entrepreneur and mother who believes using business for good is good business.