Your business is ready to launch.
The bulk of the work is behind you. You’ve researched and strategized, secured funding, put your plans into action, and created a business from scratch. Your finger is hovering over the ‘launch’ button, and you’re excited to start welcoming your first customers… but you may want to pause before you actually press that button.
The reason for the pause is simple: launching a business is a point of no return. When you begin to accept customers, sell your first product, or are hired by your first client, your business is active – and there’s no putting that rabbit back in the hat. While this is exciting, and the entire reason you have decided to start your own business, it is also concerning: if there is anything you have overlooked in the planning of your business, adding it post-launch is incredibly difficult.
To avoid a post-launch time crunch, it’s important to take one, final moment to assess the most crucial aspects of your yearling business and ensure the most important elements are in place. Below, we’ve put together a list of elements your business needs before you fully launch to the public. Scrub the launch for now, and check you have…
A business plan
Business plans are often talked about as if they are only required when you are planning your business, but this is not the case. A good business plan also includes sales forecasts and goals you expect to achieve in the first six to 12 months of operation. By ensuring you have these established before launch, you have a starting set of data to work towards and to analyze the performance of at a later date.
Completely separate personal and business finances
One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting a business is to mingle the business’ finances with their personal finances. This situation needs to be avoided at all costs, as it can be potentially ruinous for both sets of finances, creating a confusing tangle that can take weeks if not months to unravel. To avoid such a scenario, take the time to completely separate the business finances from your personal affairs, creating new accounts and methods of record-keeping for each area.
The appropriate insurance coverage
Insurance is often seen as something that is nice to have rather than essential, or a product you can purchase when your business is up and running – but this isn’t the case. The moment you invest money into your business, you need to protect that investment with insurance – regardless of whether or not you are officially open to the public. Take the time to learn more about the different types of insurance available, then ensure you have the policies in place before you officially launch the business.
Complete legal compliance
Literally every type of business has to comply with at least some legislative or regulatory requirements, so it’s important to first ascertain what exactly applies to your business. For example, most business types will need to take account of compliance regarding…
- Privacy policies, particularly those that relate to the GDPR legislation
- Advertising standards
- Health and safety standards for any products you manufacture
- Workplace health and safety
As well as these basics, you’ll also need to research additional measures you may need to take regarding your specific industry – for example, if you’re opening a food truck, you’ll need to comply with food handling and hygiene regulations.
You should only launch when you are 100% certain you have met all legal and regulatory requirements relevant to your business, as a failure to do so can be catastrophic – potentially leading to your business receiving a fine, or worse, before you’ve even really gotten off the ground.
A variety of contact methods
If a customer or client wishes to contact you, you need to ensure they can do so quickly, efficiently, and with a minimum of stress. The reason for this is simple; if they have to work too hard to contact you, the chances are they simply won’t, and you’ll lose potential business as a result.
As a general starting point, look to ensure prospective customers and clients can contact your business using the following methods:
- Social media (and particularly Facebook and Twitter)
- Text message or WhatsApp
You may also want to consider adding a live chat feature to your website, though you can go without this if you are short on time and resources – it’s more “nice to have” rather than “essential”. The other contact methods as mentioned above, however, are very much essentials, so ensure they’re up and running prior to launch.
A backup plan
While it is not a pleasant reality to contemplate, the fact remains that many startup businesses fail. Hopefully, your business will defy the statistics, but it’s also important to acknowledge the possibility of things going awry.
Many entrepreneurs don’t like to do this; they believe it’s a form of negative thinking, and that they should just focus their efforts on ensuring their business will be successful. While there is some merit to this approach, it can also be problematic, leaving you exposed should the worst case scenario come to pass.
Your backup plan should focus primarily on your own finances, especially if you have invested any of your personal savings into your business. It’s helpful to have a few month’s worth of living expenses saved prior to launch, just in case the business takes a while to show results. In addition, ask yourself how you would cope with a launch that faltered, and what you could do to rectify the situation should those circumstances unfortunately develop in future.
With any luck, you’ll never need to action your backup plans – but you do need to have them in place, just in case.
When you are sure you have the above elements in place, you can be confident that your business is launching with a solid foundation behind it. You’re now cleared for launch, ready to start shooting for the stars and begin your journey towards business success. Good luck!