You've launched your business. What's next?
You’ve been told that half the battle is getting started. To some extent, it's true, but it’s also advice that’s aimed at people who struggle to get into gear.
But you have launched your business. You know that now, the real work begins.
What does that work entail? What specific, concrete steps can you take to make sure that your product launch is effective, and that you can easily and consistently capitalize on the buzz that your business’ launch has generated?
In this article, you’ll learn what to do as well as what strategies to avoid.
Growth Management: Handling Success When it Comes Your Way
Growth management might seem like the type of high-quality conundrum that most people would love to have. But there’s an urgency when it comes to growth management that many entrepreneurs miss: if you aren't effective now, you may miss opportunities for expansion.
According to Harvard Business Review, the #1 issue in business launches is a lack of proper growth management. They recount the tale of Mosquito Magnet, which became a hot-seller at places like Home Depot, until the demand for the product drastically increased. To compensate, the production was outsourced to China, and the quality dipped so much that consumers got angry with the brand.
Although Mosquito Magnet ultimately made money, they missed an opportunity to create an outstanding product that would etch itself into the minds of consumers all across the country.
If you want to ensure that your own growth management goes smoothly, pay attention to these tips:
Make sure production is scale-able. All products and services require some level of scale-ability to handle growth. Even SaaS downloads need scale-able resources, such as adding customer service professionals to the mix when more customers start using your product.
Have salespeople ready. You need a staff who's more knowledgable than the customers and leads who are asking the questions. That means you’ll want a training program to ensure that your staff can talk about your product with knowledge and expertise.
Know your market demand. This may be the single most important way to gauge the growth of your business. Are you keeping your ear to the tracks, so to speak? Do you know if the train is coming? How is your social media presence, your understanding of media, etc.? If you don’t know what’s coming, it will catch you off-guard.
Most people want to learn about preparing for possible failure, but the truth is, some businesses fail because they didn’t adequately prepare for success.
Don’t Count On Your Launch to Handle the Sales For You
When your company is riding high off an initial buzz, whether it be a viral Kickstarter campaign or a simple press release that caught fire, it’s easy to forget that it's not always going to be this way. The Internet is a fickle mistress; it moves on more quickly than the 24-hour news cycle. One day, you’re a hot commodity; the next day, you feel like you have to go door-to-door.
You feel like you’ll be in the limelight forever. The truth? Don’t count on it.
Even if you’ve had a successful launch, you need to prepare for the long-term success of your company. You still need to think about your Unique Selling Proposition— the aspect of your product or service that differentiates it.
Here are some tips to keep your sales energy up after all the buzz dies down:
Find a great sales person. Easier said than done, we know. But you have to constantly be on the prowl for effective sales talent. You’d be amazed at what one right hire can do to shift the focus and ambition of your business. Don’t be afraid to give salespeople very specific goals and to keep them accountable to those goals—when they start hitting them, you know you’ve got someone you’ll want to keep.
Stay enthused! Once you get into the dog days of managing a business, you might find yourself asking, “is this really what I started entrepreneurship for? Just to feel like an empowered office lackey?” Don’t feel that way. You’re out on your own, ruling your own hours, running your own business. Think of the post-launch comedown as the dog days of running a business, the point at which you need to put in the work so you can delegate later.
Forge new connections…and don’t stop. Although you might have the customers and clients to keep your company afloat for the time being, it’s an unwise entrepreneur who doesn’t set a little bit of time aside to continually invest in new opportunities. So never stop forging new connections, seeking new clients, and attempting to generate new sales.
Sales will always be the engine of business, so don’t let that “check engine” light go ignored while you’re riding the buzz of your initial launch. Keep the engine humming by making sales a focus even in times of prosperity and opportunity—your bottom line will thank you.
Still Confused? Focus on These Simple Tips
Okay, so you came to this article looking for some concrete action steps you can undertake today. Let’s keep it simple and provide you with some tips that focus on short-term business development:
Attend your first conference or trade show. This gives you something to look forward to, as well as opportunities to make new connections and sales.
If you haven’t already, create your “elevator pitch.” Seriously, take the time to write a thirty-second pitch, and practice it in the mirror. You’d be amazed at the confidence this gives you in your new business, even if you don’t have to use the pitch right away.
Develop your portfolio and testimonials. Essential in the early stage of any business. If you haven’t been gathering customer testimonials and portfolio items yet, now’s the time to get started.
The days after a product launch’s buzz wind down can be some of the most interesting, depressing, and galling in the life of your business. Don’t let them get the best of you. Be proactive, and focus on the next step: the rest of your life.