Have a great idea for a new business? Excellent! There’s a lot of work to do and decisions to be made to launch your new small business. On top of (hopefully) doing most things right when you establish and initially grow your small business, you definitely want to avoid these foundational mistakes that can haunt you for months or years after launch.
Of course, there’s no conclusive list of all the mistakes you could possibly make when launching your small business, but we’ll cover many of the major ones that we regularly see with our clients.
- Not building a website For years now, most consumers expect businesses of all sizes to have a website. A website is the online home base for your small business, and something consumers expect to see as part of the legitimacy of your business. Your small business website also gives them the chance to find out what they need to know about you before deciding to contact you to buy.
- Making your website “perfect” Perfect is the enemy of good and the enemy of done. Much like your new business, your website will evolve over time. Don’t wait until your site is perfect to mark it off your Launch To Do list! Get the basic info of who you are, what you are about, what you sell, who you sell to, and how to contact and purchase from you, on your new site, then keep moving with other launch tasks. You can always come back later and build out your site’s content.
- Not optimizing your website for search SEO (search engine optimization) is how you get the pages on your website found in Google (or Bing or Yahoo) search. Optimizing your website pages, product listings, and blog posts for search greatly improves the chances that people who are googling about the types of things you sell, find you instead of someone else.
- Not starting at least 1 social media account Followed closely by the need for a small business website, is the need for at least 1 social media account. Choose a platform that’s a good fit for your business and go from there. Look into that platform’s ads options, too.
- Promoting your new business too far in advance I have a colleague who had a client that insisted their future business’ Facebook Page have several hundred Likes several months before the scheduled opening. Needless to say, this was a struggle. Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal client. How far in advance would you want to ‘like’ a Page of a ‘coming soon’ business? Likely, not very far out. Plus, from the management side of things, it’s pretty difficult to keep people interested in the future small business they just ‘liked’ on Facebook when there’s months and months before it opens.
- Waiting too long to promote your new business If you are opening your doors tomorrow or next week, you likely haven’t given yourself enough time to get the word out about your new business. I wouldn’t start actively promoting a new business further than 3 months out, and I’d make sure to start promoting a new business launch at least a month before your grand opening. A great way to get people excited about your launch is to share photos, videos, and launch updates on social media. People appreciate learning what’s going on behind the scenes of a new business. Plus, it’s an excellent way for potential customers to get to know you better.
- Letting costs get out of control If your average sale is $25, can you really afford $2,000 month rent (plus upfront costs, utilities, furniture, wages, etc.)? Launching your small business is usually not the time to go “top of the line” with all your decisions. Set a realistic budget and make reasonable decisions about how you will spend your money. You might really want the great suite in the best shopping center on the busiest street, but that all comes at a high price.
- Poor pricing or packages Too high? Too low? Are you giving people what they want or what you think they want? Your value proposition will significantly impact a potential customer’s buying decision. Out of line pricing can turn potential buyers off (yes, even if your prices are too low) just as much as what you are offering them.
- Not thinking about your customers when designing your core list of products or services Are you ordering in off-brand products when your ideal shopper is name brand only? Do your customers really want one-on-one coaching instead of the group coaching you’re offering? So much of your new small business is tied up in making your customers happy, so put them first in all the planning and business development.
- Not thinking about your strengths when designing your core list of products or services There might be a lot of things you could offer, but where does your expertise lie? Do you have the staff to offer all 7 services you want to, or are 3 services a better fit because it’s really only you to get the work done? Stick to what you know well when you first start your small business.
- Not paying for ads for your new business Website? Yes. Social media account? Yes. Organic (non-paid) posts about your launch? Yes. SEO for your website? Yes. Storefront and signage (when applicable)? Yes. Even with all those Yeses, you still should plan to dedicate some money to ads for your initial launch and the first couple of months following. You really need to ensure you are getting eyeballs on the news of your new small business, what you are selling, and what you are all about.
- Not sharing about the progress of your new business as you prepare to launch Thankfully this goes hand-in-hand with posts you are making on your social media account and is what you are going through daily leading up to your business launch. Share photos, videos, and stories of what your new business means to you, who is behind the business, progress shots of you and your team working on your upcoming launch, etc. People love to see these types of things!
- Ignoring off-line promotions and word of mouth As soon as you begin work on your new small business launch, tell everyone you know about your future business! Order business cards. Network with local businesses. Sign up with your Chamber. The internet can be a wonderful place for businesses of all sizes, but there’s still a lot of good that comes in face-to-face interactions with others.
- Not giving your new small business enough time before determining whether or not it’s a success If your small business launch has a lot of upfront costs, please dedicate and then spend a reasonable amount of resources on giving your new small business the best chance it has for success. Keep in mind, too, the typical sales cycle for what you are selling. Your business might fall into the “impulse buy” category, the sales cycle might be a year or more, or it might fall somewhere in between. And don’t make any big changes hastily. The first few people who call to inquire might ask you about a similar – but not exact – product or service you offer. Don’t let that change your mind about all the planning and decisions you’ve made about what you are selling. Give it more time and see what kinds of trends develop before making changes. Or deeming it a hit or a flop.
Step into your small business launch with your best foot forward! Avoid these 14 common small business launch pitfalls, and you’ll be on your way to business launch success.