Start On These Today Even If Your Startup Hasn’t Launched
Whether you’re waiting for your product samples to be perfected or for your website to be finished, you may be feeling super antsy while you’re playing the waiting game.
Although it may feel like you need to hold off on specific marketing and operations tasks until everything is ready, the truth is you don’t, and you shouldn’t.
You are wasting perfectly good time you could be spending on building the critical pillars for your business — with all the free time you currently have before your startup’s launch, why not get ahead of your work?
Here are the 4 things I recommend you start working on today even if your startup hasn’t launched.
This is the #1 thing that I and every entrepreneur I know regret not doing sooner. If I knew how important, yet long of a process building an audience would be, I would’ve started this back in 2014 — two years before launching my business.
Every business has an audience-building tactic that’s effective for them — my audience-building method is blogging and engaging with my audience through my Friday emails.
I’ve seen other startups focus their audience-building efforts on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook. Knowing which is right for your business all depends on your industry, the type of content you produce, and where your customers hang out.
Do some research on which platforms are best for the type of product or service you’re selling and create a presence on that platform. For example, if you’re a home goods brand, you may want to start building an audience on Pinterest where 47% of social commerce takes place. If you’re a swimwear line, you may want to start audience building on Instagram, where fashion lines thrive.
You can start doing this today even if your startup hasn’t launched yet.
Once you’ve selected your platform, post content that inspires you, even if it’s not your content and you’re referencing content from other platforms.
Use your platform as a vision and inspiration board that will attract audiences that hold the same interests. By the time you’re ready to launch, you’ll already have built a sizable number of followers to broadcast your startup’s products or services to.
A lot of startups actually started out their businesses this way — Netflix and Amazon both started off with movies and products from third parties before releasing their own products. They essentially created a store of vision board movies and products they aspired to make one day.
Both Netflix and Amazon spent several years committed to building an audience aligned with their vision (and garnering market share), basically guaranteeing success once they rolled out their own products — pretty smart if you ask me.
Find Your Voice
While building your audience, take the opportunity to find your brand’s voice. If you won’t be dishing out money to work with a brand strategist, then you need to spend some time workshopping your startup’s communication strategy.
If you’ve ever caught yourself rambling with a 3–5 minute answer when someone innocently asks “what does your startup do?” — then you haven’t found your startup’s voice yet.
While you’re building your audience, take the opportunity to test out your mission statement, one-liner, descriptions of your startup, etc. and refine it until you can neatly answer the “what does your startup do?” question in 2–5, non-run-on sentences. Read my tips on how to craft a killer elevator pitch for more guidance on that.
While on this task, you should also define your startup’s voice — is it formal and professional? The voice of your best friend? Is it fun and laid-back, or academic and informative?
Create a fully-formed voice with a personality that perfectly embodies your intended brand — when you’re able to clearly identify your brand, your customers will be able to too.
Put Numbers To Your Vision
Do you know how much in fees you’ll have to pay the city to open your business’ doors? How much you’ll have to pay in employer taxes and health insurance coverage to keep your employees happy in year three? Or what kind of money you need to set aside to launch the second arm of your business in year five?
If you have a vision of where you want the company to be in the next five years, spend some time calculating how much your vision will cost.
If there’s no North Star number to work towards, how will you ever know if your business is on track? Operating without a North Star is kind of like driving without a destination — the ride will be fun, but you’ll burn through a lot of gas only to end up stranded on a dirt road.
If you don’t know how to start planning out the numbers for your business, my Business Plan Creator Tool has a financial projections guide to help you crunch your numbers line-by-line.
Read Some Books
While you’re on a forced break, take some time to study. There is a treasure trove of books out there on startups, marketing, goal management, and more at a fraction of the price and time of taking a course or working with a coach.
Books allow you to access the brains of successful entrepreneurs around the world — it’s a total waste to not leverage this incredible resource for your startup’s benefit.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite business books I loved reading last year to give you a head start. Get reading!
Need a business plan for your startup’s launch? Grab my free Business Plan Outline to help you map it all out.