Whether you’re launching a startup, company blog or podcast, you’re bound to encounter a few surprises. There is always something unexpected. And the more you prepare, in advance, the better you are able to tackle new business challenges and stay on track.
If you’re planning to launch anything in the next few months, here are four things to prepare for:
Fear and Doubt
Many entrepreneurs launch a business with great confidence. They are filled with passion and conviction. They aren’t overwhelmed — yet. Most don’t expect fears and doubts to creep in. But, they often do. When this happens to you, don’t worry. It’s normal. Fear and doubt is a response to change. You’re taking business to the next level and reaching for your dreams.
As the launch gets closer, you may silently think to yourself, “Who am I to do this?” or “Am I crazy?” and “Will anyone even buy this?” Prepare for this common wave of emotion by cultivating friendships with other entrepreneurs. Friends and family may be supportive too, but If they’ve never taken a calculated risk, or leap of faith, they may try to convince you that fear is a sign you shouldn’t keep going. Surrounding yourself with like-minded entrepreneur peers will help you tell the difference between a fear that isn’t real and one that is completely legitimate.
When launching, you make a great deal of decisions. These decisions may include: When should we launch? Who should be on the team? Which media outlets should we pitch? Should we do online video marketing, social media, PR, or a kick-off event?
If that’s not enough to think about, there are also micro-decisions accompanying these larger decisions, such as: Do I like red or blue for this promo piece? How many days in advance should we let VIP’s know? Should we promote our launch via Twitter or Instagram? Over time, you will develop what’s called decision fatigue. And if you’re not careful, decision fatigue will cause you to make bad decisions, impulse purchases, or tempt you to avoid a decision entirely.
Here are a few things you can do to ensure it doesn’t take you down: a) Create a plan in advance to reduce the pressure of executing multiple decisions at the same time; b) Develop an empowered team because launch isn’t the time to micromanage or do everything yourself; c) Settle for 80%. Decision fatigue will cause startup burn out if everything needs to be “perfect”. Let 80% be enough in your first launch and let it go.
It’s extremely difficult to estimate sales on your first launch. It’s also rare to have a launch that hits sales as predicted. Instead, take a three tier approach. First, research industry sales estimates. Next, create a sales plan including best case and worst case scenarios. By preparing for three potential sales scenarios, you won’t put your business at risk and can measure success accordingly.
You’ve probably heard the nightmare stories of technical problems that can stop a launch it its tracks. Common technical “nightmares” during launch can include, but are not limited to: a) payment processor shutting you down for “fishy” behavior due to sales beyond your wildest expectations; b) web host server crashes from high traffic volume; bringing your website down with it; c) autoresponders fail to reply when users sign up for your mailing list.
This is where settling for 80% comes in handy. When you accept that your launch won’t be perfect, you are more relaxed when minor issues surface. Prepare for tech problems in advance by having a tech person (or team) available, before and during launch, to solve pesky problems. Additionally, it helps to have a calm and persistent team member who is willing to make multiple calls to the same vendor in order to get your problems solved.
This Won’t Be Your Last Launch
Most entrepreneurs get so wrapped up in their first, or most current, launch that everything else fades into the recesses of their minds. But once you emerge from a launch trance, you will see there are many, many more launches to come. Depending on your industry and business type, you may plan launches on a monthly, seasonal or annual basis.
To avoid launch burnout, take some time for yourself after the launch. Go away for a few days. Turn off the cell phone and laptop during certain periods of the day. After a few days of sunshine, sleep, and less responsibilities, you’ll be ready for your next launch.
Launching is hard work, but the rewards are well worth it. A little bit of planning for launch “surprises” will help you avoid a meltdown mid-launch. What setbacks have you encountered during your launches and how did you prepare for them? Let me know in the comments section below.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Farideh Ceaser is a musician turned launch strategist and host of the Tribe Finder Podcast. After 15 years on the road touring as a musician, Farideh switched gears and now helps entrepreneurs launch their big ideas and online courses. She regularly delivers her wisdom in the form of a ukelele and a song on www.farideh.ca. Grab your copy of Farideh’s free 30-Day Launch Checklist and Calendar at launchyourcourse.com. Connect with @faridehceaser on Twitter.