The Importance of a Launch Plan

 Having a well-considered launch plan in place for each product launch can really shift the resultsDuring 18 years I’ve seen many vendors throw themselves into launching new products or services without a written launch plan, and it’s simply not the best way to map out and achieve results.  Going without a launch plan -pinning results on hope instead of research and facts – is also a stressful way to launch anything.  Plus a well-considered launch plan shifts the results — including sales.

Planning launches ahead of time with step-by-step messaging, objectives, audience analysis and targeting allows you to put specific objectives in place, to speak to relevant prospects and gives you essential momentum.

Launches also need to be shared with your team – whether you’re a startup, early stage or a more established business.  You don’t want to dedicate all of your time, voice and effort outside your own company and team without considering how you should first launch their own products and services within their company – so your employees, partners and other stakeholders are part of the launch, and not just bystanders that are told about the launch after it has happened. An internal launch doesn’t just grow your fan base and build up enthusiasm internally (which may be more important than you think).

If you’re launching something that is very new, then consider a staged launch starting with a soft launch. This gives you the opportunity to build a base of customers, collect feedback, ask for references and testimonials, before you go onto a larger-scale launch.

Want to know more about how to stage a launch, or have any questions about setting objectives, defining audiences or getting your message right for an upcoming launch? Then why not join me for a free 30-minute product launch strategy session.


Winning customers vs closing sales

Sales: Are you just selling or creating customers?Great sales is about doing the right thing for everyone involved: for your business, yourself, your team, and the customer.  If you’re selling something that isn’t totally serving the end user, then you’re not creating a customer base; you’re just closing sales.

Some people may think: “So what if I’m only closing sales? That’s what I need to do.” But this mindset doesn’t come from a place of service. Using this theory, then, sales is about manipulation. It means that you aren’t acting in the best interest of your customers. You may get a sale, but you don’t have a customer — a contact that will appreciate and recommend you, or become a reference or someone who trusts you.

Sales is something you do for someone, and not something you do to them.

Zig Ziglar talked about sales being the need to become the assistant buyer — thinking from the prospect’s perspective.

If you’re entrepreneur who wants to increase sales and drive business results for your startup, then join us for our free online training:  “How to Make Your Startup a Sales Machine.” Click here to find out when the next training is and to secure your place


Gleeful challenges of running a business

Running a business has its challenges.Running a business

What’s interesting is how – and when – other people point them out to you. When I started my first business, people would tell me “the first year is the hardest.” Then, when we opened offices on the other side of the Atlantic, others said, “Running a trans-Atlantic team is hard.” Then we changed our business model. Some shook their heads and said, “You can’t just change your business, you should stick with what has worked so far.”

The fact is that running a business is always a challenge, but that’s why we do it. We want to see what we can do and how we can do things differently. I admit to having a total sense of glee over working for myself – even on days that do bring challenges. One of the elements that fascinates me about running my own company is seeing how I will react to new situations; I’ve learned so much about myself, how I react to challenges, and how resourceful I can be when pressed.

We’re not all perfect. When the economic downturn hit in 2009-2010, our business specialized in early-stage technology companies with a roster that almost disappeared overnight. We signed a lease for a San Francisco office just as Lehman Brothers was packing up at its location. “Why didn’t I act quicker?” was my lament. For a number of months, I blamed myself – you’d swear that I was single-handedly responsible for the credit crunch. Meanwhile, friends would simply ask: “Can’t you get a job?” as if the reason I didn’t seek employment was due to a lack of skills or job openings, instead of a steadfast refusal to consider such a move.

I feel blessed to work for myself – and I love business, helping people and what I do. If I didn’t, I can change it – because I can. Like I said, gleeful challenges – I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Chicken and the egg: Raising cash for your startup

You have a great idea and you’re going to bring a new product or service to maChicken and egg: Raising funds for your startuprket. It’s an exciting time as you imagine the changes your idea could bring. You’re embarking on changing a corner of the world in some way and impacting people’s lives — how they work, travel, communicate, think, feel or act.

Now the tricky bit — cash. Am I right? However great your idea is, or lean your startup is, you need money. You just can’t get avoid the need for funding. Welcome to the startup’s chicken-and-egg dilemma: your product is awesome* (*let’s assume this is true) and will generate cash, but you can’t develop, market and deliver your product until you have — you guessed it — cash.

There are certainly numerous ways to fund your dream — here are some possibilities to generate cash or support for your startup:

  • Bootstrapping (which typically involves giving up anything in your life that costs money: food, rent, fun)
  • Friends and family (also known as unaccredited investors)
  • Equity investment: Accredited investors such as business angels or venture capitalists – this includes convertible debt options
  • Debt investments or loans: Bank loans, private loans, microloans, credit cards
  • Government sources: Economic development initiatives, U.S. Chamber of Commerce programs
  • Support organizations: Business incubators, business accelerators
  • Crowdfunding: These could be rewards-, equity-, donation- or lending-based.

Of course there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options. For some of these funding sources, the upside includes mentorship, access to resources, introductions, networking and collaboration. Potential downsides include loss of equity and control, accrued debt and interest fees.

One area that many startups seem to avoid in the early-stage build phase is sales. Cold, hard sales — where you tell people about the benefits of your product and ask them for cash — would not only help fund your growth but would also create a customer base of fans that could support you in ways that go beyond the financial.

Even if you are working from an incubator or have access to initial funds, you need to learn — and feel comfortable enough — to sell your product.

If you’re dragging your sales heels, then why not join one of our free two-hour workshops – The Build Phase – Increasing Sales (Fast) as a Tech Startup – which are being hosted in Boston, Cambridge, Austin, San Francisco and New York. Check out our workshops page for all upcoming workshops and to register.