Launching a start-up business can be an exciting and daunting experience. It is important to remember that every new start-up needs to have a solid foundation in order to succeed later on. This checklist will help you with the basics of launching and marketing your own business.
Step 1 – Develop a Sound Business Plan
It may not seem very fun, but the basis for success is a secure foundation. This means that you should always start off with a business plan before launching a start-up business. Take time to research your product or offering, your competitors, your price points and do some number crunching. This plan will help guide you through the first few years. There are some business plan ideas and templates here.
What should a business plan include?
- Executive summary. Briefly tell your reader what your company is and why it will be successful.
- Market analysis.
- Competitor analysis.
- Organisation and management.
- Financial projections.
- Your business plan should include a clearly defined mission statement and explicit goals.
- The purpose of the business is to make money! This can be achieved in many ways, from charging for services or products to finding funding. If your company cannot sustain itself by making a profit, then it will have trouble surviving. Explore how your business can make a profit and include this in the plan.
- Identify your company’s USP. This is what sets you apart from competitors and will be the driving force behind your success.
- Understand who your target audience is and how they can benefit from what you offer.
- Understand what your company is offering and how it will benefit the customer.
- Define what makes you different from competitors and why customers should choose to buy from you over them.
We all want to be optimistic with our plan, but you should also explore some disasters that could befall the company in order to set contingency plans for them.
Step 2 – Define Your Target Audience & Offering
Defining your target audience is vital for success. You will only connect with your audience and sell to them if you are relatable. Next, you should establish what their pain point is and use this to create your marketing message. How does YOUR product or service solve their difficulties?
Who is your target audience?
- Define their age,
- Gender if specific,
- Their interests
- The language they use
- Where they hang out online, i.e. Facebook, Instagram etc.
- The publications they may read
- Their location if your offering is location dependant
- Their job/position
- Their income
You will also need to define your offering very clearly in a way that your audience can relate to. Ensure this is very clearly laid out and easy to understand and relay in your branding and marketing messages.
A brand is your company’s personality, image, and identity. It’s what people think of when they see or hear about you. They should be able to identify who you are just by the name and logo. Branding is a critical part of launching a start-up business. Getting it right is vital.
Clear branding is essential for a business. It’s the visual elements and marketing message that your customers will see. They need to align with this branding. This is why the ‘understanding your target audience’ part of your business plan is so important.
The branding will start with your mission and vision statement. This is what your business hopes to accomplish and the problems it can solve for its customer base.
The next step is a logo. The logo will become the core of your brand identity, so it; ‘s important to ensure it resonates with your target audience. It will represent you in public spaces like on business cards, flyers, posters, social media, online ads etc.
The company’s colours are also important. Like your mission statement and vision, these should reflect your business’s core values. This colour palette helps to create a consistent look across all marketing materials such as print and online.
Step 4 – Get a Professional Website
The next step is the businesses website, and if you’re not tech-savvy, this can be a daunting task. Today many of us are conscious of wasting paper; a website is your digital storefront or brochure. It requires no paper, and people can find you online and review your offering.
Your website should be in keeping with your branding and company colour palette. It should explain who you are, what you offer and solve your customer’s pain points in the text.
It should give people a simple way to learn about you and to contact you.
Of course, websites can be more complicated and include many pages or even an entire e-commerce store. This will depend on your product or services.
Once you have a domain and hosting for your website, you will be able to create a professional email address for your business instead of a Gmail or Outlook one.
Step 5 – Business Listings
Listing your start-up business on search engines will help people to find your business, especially locally. Google My Business and Bing Places are the two most common. These can be linked to your website, and contact details added, photos and a description of your business.
People will also be able to leave reviews here, and if applicable, use maps to find your business premises.
Other business listings include directory sites such as Thompson Local, Yell and Cylex. These can help with your local SEO.
Step 6 – Analytics & Search Console
If you have a website, you should have Google Analytics, and Google Search Console set up. This will help you understand how people are using your website and how they are finding you. This will help you to improve your content and convert more visitors to customers.
Step 7 – Setup Social Media Channels
Social media has become a crucial part of marketing. Your business needs to have a presence on social media channels so that you are visible to your target audience and they can find out about your products or services.
You don’t have to have a presence on every single social media network. Only create ones you will be able to manage. Poorly managed channels look unprofessional. The channels you choose should be the ones your target audience frequent.
Begin teasing your audience on social media, ready for the launch.
Step 8 – Prepare Your Content
Your content is your biggest asset in marketing, especially in the early days. You will need to have a blog, social media posts, photos of your products if applicable, an email list and a press release in order to make the most of your early days.
The first thing you should do is create a content plan. This needs to be clear for everyone on what they are responsible for creating – whether it’s regular posts or one-off pieces of content that might require more work.
Schedule your content for social media in advance with a tool such as Social Pilot. This allows you to keep your social media accounts full of content to engage people and get your message out.
Your content should be useful to people throughout the buyer’s journey.
- Awareness – This should revolve around the problem your customer may have. For example, they have a busy lifestyle and often overlook the expenditure. If you had a product that could analyse their spending for waste, you would want to create content that made them aware of their problem and that there is a simple solution.
- Consideration – Once they are aware, they may do some more research. They may be worried about allowing a service access to their bank. This means you need to create content for all of the questions that may crop up for potential customers.
- Decision – Finally, when customers are ready to commit to purchasing, they may want to see some demo’s, reviews or offers.
Step 9 – The Launch
In the early days of a business, your friends and family will be your biggest advocates. Prepare a launch for your business; you can count down to it on your website and social media channels with teasers. Ask them to share it with their friends.
Ideas for a business launch include:
- A grand opening party
- Giving an exclusive launch offer to your friends and family
- Providing a limited time discount
- Giving away something free in exchange for being on the mailing list.
The above steps are what’s needed to get your start-up from concept to conception. Of course, you will need to have secured some funding, whether personal or from a third party and have your products or services ready for market.
It may seem daunting to action the above checklist, which is why we offer a business to go package. This package includes your branding, logo, website, copy for the website, social media account set-up and business listings, eliminating most of the points on this list, allowing you to focus on what you are passionate about. Making launching your start-up business a breeze. Find out more about our business to go offer here.