How to launch your business TODAY
Are you ready to take your business from dream to the reality? Does the idea of creating a product and then serving it to a market full of customers who love and appreciate it as much as you do make you want to jump out of your seat RIGHT NOW?
Then read this blog post-- I made it with you in mind! I'm laying out my 3 step strategy for launching a successful business, and it is full of practical tips you can take TODAY to create the business of your dreams.
For anyone who has ever built a business from scratch, it is no easy task--in fact, I think it is one of the hardest things you will ever do.
Building a brand takes more time, patience and work than most people realize, and it is a thankless, lonely journey that will leave you questioning if it is worth it. However, if you are one of those few individuals who can’t imagine living any other way, there are ways of building a brand that are easier than others.
When I first started out almost a decade ago, I spent a lot of time building my businesses through trial and error and hoping that what I did would pay off in the long run. Now, after 3 startups, an MBA and a career in the tech industry, I know better.
Whether you want to grow a business or launch a new product line, you need to do a LOT of research before hand to make sure that your efforts will yield a high ROI (return on investment).
And the only way to do ensure that your results are worth the effort is to conduct a market analysis.
While is does take time and a lot of research, a Market Analysis will give you clarity on whether or not you should launch your brand, and exactly how to launch.
A market analysis can be broken down into 3 phases:
Know your market
Know your competition
Know your ideal client
Let’s go over each step so you understand exactly what to do and WHY you need to do it, so there isn’t any confusion about whether or not your business idea is good or not.
Know your market
Understand how big the market is and what your piece of the pie might be.
Before you lift a finger, you want to know if you even have a chance at making money, so you need to understand TAM, or the Total Addressable Market. You can find this information by doing your research on Google or looking at industry trends that tell you how much the market you plan on entering is valued at.
So for example, if you want to start a coffee company, look at the total amount of coffee sold in the US over the last 5 years as a dollar amount.
Is that number growing? How much is a pound of coffee sold for, and are there any major fluctuations in the market or external conditions that will affect that price in the future?
Next, you want to know what your SAM or total share of the addressable market is.
Out of the total demand, how many coffee retailers are out there? What percentage of the market does each own? Is there a monopoly, meaning only a few large corporations own the majority share of the market, or are there a lot of smaller players competing? It’s easier to break in when there isn’t someone holding those precious dollars captive, so make sure that the market is healthy before you enter.
Lastly, you want to look at SOM, or your share of the obtainable market. Out of the demand that is left on the table for you to try and obtain, how much can you realistically count on given your current operations + customer acquisition strategy? What corner of the web or your city can you claim as your own, and based on what you serve and who you are serving to, how much can you project to make each year?
This number reflects your capacity to service your clients, and how much you can expect to bring in as revenues, and is totally dependent on:
How much product you can produce (or if you're service based, how many clients can you serve based on how long it takes to deliver your services)
Your marketing strategy for attracting + converting clients
Do the math-- think about how many hours you have in a day and how much money you need to be able to actually make this business your full time job.
Or if it's a side hustle, what is the magical number that would make this business worth committing to? Doing a market analysis will help you better identify your goals.
Know your competition:
Understand your competition and how they will affect your business
So now you how big your market is, what the market trends are telling you, and who your competition is. But, now you need to know how easy or difficult it will be for you to enter the market, based on your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
This is where a #SWOTAnalysis comes in.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
This gives you a clear understanding of where you stand in relation to the competition. The information you gather here will influence your branding and how you position your products, so it is CRUCIAL that you do this step.
Strengths refers to what they do well, and is an analysis of their internal operations. Look at their website, marketing, reviews of their customer service and anything else that they are excelling at.
Weaknesses is another internal metric that will tell you where the gaps are for you to fill. Are the priced too high? Is their lead time long? Do they sufficiently fill demand or are they constantly out of stock? Do they have a strong following on social media?
Opportunities refers to an external metric that is dependent on the market you are in. What external factors can attribute to your success? Is your market growing and are there trends that will encourage people to buy more of what you are selling? Are there upcoming changes in social media or in your industry that might impact your company positively?
Threats means what market conditions could threaten their company? Do you have potential competitors who may enter your market? Will suppliers always be able to supply the raw materials you need at the prices you need? Could future changes in technology change how you do business? Is consumer behavior changing in a way that could negatively impact your business?
Choose 2-3 competitors to analyze, and by the time you’re through, you will have an excellent idea of how to position your brand to your customers and what you need to improve upon to compete effectively in your market.
Try to understand what they do well, what they need to work on and the level of difficulty it will be for you to enter into the market. Is it the quality of their product? Their customer service? Do you have more skills than they do? Is your branding better?
Do your research! And luckily for you, I've created a free SWOT template for you to use to help you better identify exactly where you are winning, and where you might need to step up your game.
If you are a product based business, go investigate your competitors' products in store.
If your product is a service or online, you can still do your research--you’ll be amazed at what you learn from other websites. I like to read customer reviews on Yelp or check out my competitors' Social Media channels. You can also look up articles about the company and really deep dive into their websites to see how they position their brand in terms of voice, tone and Call-to-Action.
The key to success is to be diligent ! The information you gather during this phase of your market research will be mission critical moving forward in your go to market plan.
Know your customer
Understand who is going to buy your product and how they will impact your business
The third, and perhaps most important step of any go to market analysis, is understanding your customer.
The main questions you want to ask yourself are:
Who is my target customer?
What do they care about?
What is their biggest pain point and how can I solve it?
Where do they spend their time?
It is FUNDAMENTAL that you answer these questions before launching any product or service. You need these answers to understand your business model and the viability of your business before you make a single post on social media. You won’t sell if you don’t know who is buying your products, so you need to have a clear buyer in mind before moving forward.
Once you understand the answers to those bigger questions and have developed a product that meets their needs, then you can dive deeper and create customer personas.
A #customerpersona is representation of your ideal customer with a photo, name, and characteristics.
You'll want to be as detailed as possible when you make your personas, and refer to them whenever you create a social media post, an email campaign or change your product/service.
For example, this is Jenna.
She is 24 years, old, loves Pumpkin Spice lattes and cares about being able to take photos of her coffee for her instagram. She loves seasonal drinks, buys coffee at least twice a week and it's important for her that our coffee is ethically sourced.
Do you see how detailed that is?
Once you create a customer persona, your mission is to go through the customer journey, which includes discovering:
How will my customer find my products?
What are the best marketing channels to reach them (Instagram, paid advertising, e-commerce site, etc)?
How much are they willing to pay for my product?
How consistently will they purchase from me?
What additional touch points do they need from me to feel satisfied?
Once you have finished with this entire exercise, from understanding your market to your competition all the way to your ideal client, you will then be ready to launch your business.
I’m not going to lie--market analyses take #WORK.
It’s not easy and it’s not fun, but you have to do it if you want to create a solid plan for growth. The more you know about your market, the better your financial projections and business decisions will be, because you will understand just how profitable your market is, and the work it will take for you to sell effectively in that market.
Don’t be discouraged if you get overwhelmed-- this can take time to do right.
Break your analysis down into phases so that you stay motivated, and keep your business goals in mind as you do.
Keep asking yourself, “How much effort will it take for me to break into a market and what can I expect to get from that effort once I’m there?”
The answers to those questions will let you know if you should continue with you business idea, or if you need to take a break and pivot.
Whatever the answer is will be for your benefit, because there is nothing worse than investing everything you have into a product with no demand. If you want to grow fast, start slow. Hypothesize, research, validate, then launch. This strategy has worked for thousands of entrepreneurs, and I promise, it will work for you.
Keep checking back in weekly to stay up to date on all the latest content, as well as to get inspired as you grow what you love. If you liked this post, please share it on your social media accounts, and leave a comment below! Please email me (email@example.com) if you have any questions, or are interested in working with me to help you build what you love.