Monthly Archives: October 2016

How To Launching a New Business or Product

It’s not enough to create a great business or product. If you want to be successful, you need to take steps to plan and execute a well-timed, memorable launch that will bring your product to the attention of more people in more locations.

In today’s competitive marketplace, businesses need to begin their promotional efforts before they actually start selling their wares. Additionally, companies need to find ways to stand out from the noise while making the right first impression on early adopters.

Here are 5 steps for launching a new product in a way that’s smart, strategic, and most of all effective:

1. Conduct Testing

Just because you’ve created an ingenious product that (you believe) fills an existing dearth in the marketplace doesn’t mean you’re ready to start selling. Savvy business owners take time to test their new items and perform necessary adjustments. Before listing a product for sale on your website, or stocking it in your retail store, send out complimentary versions for trusted clients to test and evaluate. The goal is to collect feedback from surveys and focus groups so you can make any needed improvements before releasing the product wide.

One of the reasons that testing is so crucial is that it ensures a product’s first impression with buyers will be a positive one. After all, if you release a flawed or buggy item, customers will remember that fact and be loath to try future versions. The internet means shoppers have virtually endless options, and they are unlikely to give a second chance to a disappointing company or product.

2. Contact Influencers

Blogs and social media sites are great for marketing new businesses and products online. However, if you only post about your brilliant invention on your own website, you’re unlikely to generate the sales results you desire. Instead, startups should target key influencers, or trusted brand advocates, in their chosen industries.

Start by creating a list of popular bloggers, social media mavens, and even high-profile customers who have shopped with you before. You can then email or message these individuals and ask them to review a free sample of your product. If they like the item, the chances are good that they will blog about it or share details with their social followers. The goal is to generate buzz and excitement about a product before you launch and identify any outstanding issues that could affect your item’s ability to generate a profit.

3. Get Your Team Excited

It doesn’t matter how strong your product is if your marketing and customers service teams aren’t behind you. Before launching your new item, it’s important to educate your employees and get them excited about the item. (Ideally, you will also involve product managers and sales staff throughout the item’s development, so they can weigh in on aspects.)

To prepare your team members for launch, sit down with them to discuss the product ahead of time and ensure they have the resources needed to support customers and answer their questions. If your staff is going to be selling products over the phone, consider creating new talk tracks to aid in the process. For best results, create a number of small but attainable goals so employee morale stays high throughout the launch.

4. Create a Schedule—and Stick to It

It’s easy to lose sight of your goals while trying to launch a new product. Smart business owners create detailed production schedules to ensure tasks are completed on time and team members are held accountable for their roles. Additionally, you should review your timetable to ensure it covers all the necessary tasks, from performing market research on your target audience to contacting your favorite blogger or YouTube star, and set clear objectives. If you want to sell 1,000 products in the first month, put that goal in writing and commit to achieving it.

While it’s important to ensure your schedule is realistic, entrepreneurs also need to consider the best times of year to release their new products. For example, depending on the item you’re selling, you might want to consider seasonal factors or the timing of trade shows or pop culture events. And of course, you will want to ensure you are properly staffed for the launch. The last thing you want is to find yourself struggling to release a new product because several of your employees are out for summer vacation.

5. Identify Your Marketing Channels

Gone are the days when businesses could market their wares on one or two sales channels only. Today, savvy startups maximize potential sales by targeting as many potential channels as possible. Along with traditional outlets like TV, radio, and mailers, modern businesses promote their goods on websites, social media pages, and online retail sites. They create email marketing campaigns, utilize PPC advertising, and even contact customers via text. The more channels you target with your marketing materials, the more opportunities you will have to find new and profitable audiences.

Starting Right Business

Starting a business offers the exciting opportunity to pursue your passions while building something that’s uniquely yours. Still, entrepreneurship isn’t something to be taken lightly.

According to a recent survey, more than 500,000 startups are launched in the U.S. each month. Unfortunately, many of those don’t survive to see their five-year anniversaries. Moreover, some startup founders lack the personalities and traits needed to excel at being their own bosses.

If you want to avoid being another statistic, it’s important to assess all the factors that contribute to a business’ success before quitting your day job. Here are some steps to take before deciding if starting a business is right for you.

Consider the Timing

The fact that you have a creative idea and the willingness to work hard doesn’t mean it’s the right time for you to start a business. Before embarking on a career as an entrepreneur, take a moment to assess other factors in your life, such as family concerns, financial issues, and the availability of those team members who will play a vital role in the formation of your company. After all, you don’t want your dream business to fail because your focus is on personal issues, such as taking care of a new baby or an ailing parent. Similarly, you don’t want to waste time waiting around for business partners to do what they promised.

For best results, if you discover that personal factors could prevent you from devoting your full attention to the business, consider delaying your launch for a few months until the timing is right.

Consider Your Finances

Starting a business is expensive, and entrepreneurs need to get their financial ducks in a row before launching their dream companies. Because it’s often months before online businesses become profitable—and even longer for brick-and-mortar establishments—aspiring founders need to take stock of their finances and determine how long they can afford to go without working. To protect yourself and your loved ones, it’s wise to save at least several months’ worth of expenses before quitting your day job. That safety net will help ease your anxiety during the early, stressful days of business ownership and allow you to take the risks that are sometimes necessary to succeed.

Along with a nest egg for living expenses, startup founders need to sock away money for costs associated with their businesses. In addition to production costs, strive to save money for marketing and promoting your company to prospective buyers.

Consider the Market

The success of your business depends in large part on the state of the market you hope to enter. Before launching your startup, take time to study the market and determine if a niche exists for your goods and services. Consider what items your audience is already using and how your invention would fit into the existing market. In some cases, it might be necessary to adjust your product, your audience, or your timeline to ensure the best results.

Consider Your Personality

Not all personality types are equally suited to careers as entrepreneurs. Along with creativity and ambition, startup founders need to possess a natural talent for leadership and the ability to communicate with those around them. After all, you can’t get people excited about your ideas if you don’t have the talent to share them in a way that’s clear and articulate. Additionally, the best entrepreneurs are good collaborators who know how to work in a team environment to accomplish their goals.

Of course, even the most skilled startup founders are unlikely to excel in every way. If you aren’t a good listener, you can boost your odds of succeeding by choosing a second in command who shines in this area. The goal is to choose partners and teammates who complement your skills while supporting your unifying vision.

Consider Your Support Network

The stresses associated with new business ownership can be overwhelming. As a result, it’s important for aspiring entrepreneurs to make sure they have strong support networks in place. Before starting a business, check in with family and friends to discuss your plans and make sure they are going to be there to offer support. In particular, it’s important to make sure your significant other is on the same page. These individuals can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance—and even your sanity—during the early days of business ownership.

The fact is that failure rates are high for startups. However, founders might be able to boost their odds of success by joining forces. According to a recent study, companies with two founders raise 30 percent more investment money and grow their customers bases three times as quickly as those with just one. A partner might be just the support system you need to help your business succeed.

Learn More About Self Publishing

Gone are the days when self-publishing was viewed as a route for those who couldn’t hack it in the mainstream. On the contrary, even highly successful authors are choosing to self-publish their new titles today. Moreover, small indie presses are gaining steam on the industry big boys. According to a recent article, just a quarter of Amazon e-book sales come from titles published by the five largest publishing companies, while indie presses account for 45 percent of sales. The market has spoken, and authors are listening.

Still, self-publishing is not without its challenges. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing over more traditional routes of getting the word out is crucial if you hope to make the best possible decision for your financial future.

Faster Exposure

One of the benefits of self-publishing is that your book gets to market faster than it would via traditional methods. The internet means you could (theoretically) complete a book today and publish it online tomorrow. And while we don’t recommend this tactic—even the most talented authors need time to edit and proofread their works—the speed of self-publishing can translate to faster exposure and cash in your bank account. On the other hand, publishing a book through one of the big houses takes six to 18 months at minimum.

Greater Creative Control

One of the best reasons to self-publish is that it offers you greater creative control over the book’s content and appearance. When you publish through one of the larger houses, you need to meet the requirements of multiple parties, including editors, marketers, and designers. On the other hand, self-publishing affords you the opportunity to craft and control your content every step of the way. Not only can you make decisions regarding the text and cover art, but you can also opt to publish your material in whatever format you desire, from booklets to workbooks and even multi-book series.

Better Royalties

Traditionally, publishing houses pay authors royalties on the books they sell. For example, you might receive 10 percent to 15 percent of the list price of each book sold, while the rest of the profits go to the publisher. On the other hand, when you self-publish with Amazon, you receive up to 70 percent of the list price. Additionally, self-publishing through Amazon or another site enables you to retain the rights for adaptations like films, TV shows, and even comic books.

Longer “Shelf Life”

One of the biggest benefits of self-publishing over traditional publishing is that it gives your book a longer period in which to find its audience. When you publish through Random House or another large company, your title will likely only have a shelf life of one to two months in the bookstore, as these shops are constantly moving out old inventory in favor of newly published works. On the other hand, digital books remain on Amazon’s virtual shelves indefinitely. Because potential readers can find your work with the click of a button, you have more time to build up a following—and a lucrative writing career. This ability is especially crucial for newer writers who haven’t yet found their

Less Editorial Support

Of course, self-publishing is not without its downsides. One of the main drawbacks of publishing on your own is not having the benefit of an editorial team at your back. In the traditional publishing world, authors work with editors and proofreaders to smooth out story issues and ensure the final product is free of typos and other mistakes. If you’re planning to publish a novel or nonfiction book on your own, it’s important to arrange for a trusted party to copyedit your book. Additionally, you will likely want to hire a designer to create appealing cover art. The goal is to make your e-book appear just as professional and error free as a title coming from one of the big publishing houses.

Less Marketing Support

Just as self-published writers are on their own when it comes to editing, they have to take the reigns for marketing and distributing their products. Not only do publishers boast their own platforms from which to launch your titles, but they also have the money and resources to set up bookstores and arrange for media coverage. Additionally, publishing companies can arrange for their authors to secure third-party testimonials and reviews. These endorsements are crucial for marketing your book to your target audience.

If your goal is to self publish, you will need to seek out your own testimonials by sending copies of your e-book to authors and reviewers. Before launching your title, strive to make contacts with other writers in your field. You can also send free copies to interested readers in exchange for unbiased reviews. By putting some time and money into marketing your book at the start, you boost the odds of earning more revenue down the line.

Less Acclaim

It’s no secret that self-publishing has a bad rap in certain circles. While the self-publishing stigma certainly means less today than it once did, certain readers will still refuse to publish works that didn’t originate with Penguin or one of the other bigwigs. If you’re determined to capture the widest possible readership, self-publishing might not be for you.