When your team is preparing for launch day, things are bound to get hectic. In the chaos, don't a mistake that will haunt your company for months or even years to come. We asked a panel of 10 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council to name some of the common mistakes that can hobble a startup launch.
1. Launching Your PR Campaign Before You're Ready
It's important to be strategic about when and how you want to draw attention to yourself. It's important to build some credibility before you rush people to your product or service. You may make the mistake of getting a quick burst of attention and fail to maintain their interest in the long run.
2. Overthinking Your Strategy
Overthinking things, overstrategizing and overanalyzing gets you nowhere. Instead, be connected to your customer, constantly take action to improve things for him and continually improve along the way.
3. Forgetting About Customer Service
Most startups are founded on ideas or products that are new to a market. This may cause an unexpected amount of demand for the products and services. If you have not laid a foundation for customer service that goes above and beyond, then chances are your future competitors will focus on this and attract your disgruntled clients.
4. Losing Track of Inventory
When you launch, the worst thing you can do is sell something you don't have. Starting lean with little inventory is great. Just make sure you do not keep a product live on your site. At the beginning, building customer goodwill is critical; they will be your advocates. Having credible people say you've let them down can be a major hit.
5. Forgetting to Track Your Data
If you're not methodically tracking all the traffic, conversions and results of your launch, then you won't know if it's actually worthwhile to relaunch in the future. Without this data, you can't determine the weak link in your funnel or how many leads you can target the second time around.
6. Spending Too Much Money
You might have a small seed round or possibly your own cash on the line when you're starting out. Protect that cash flow because it's the lifeline of your business. Anything unexpected can come up after you launch. You might realize your product needs more work before people will buy it. Don't spend all your money up front; you need enough to last through the first year or until you gain traction.
7. Waiting for Perfection
Launch dates are always pushed back. Launch as early as you feasibly can because there often won't be the traffic or influence you expect from day one. A launched startup is able to get the word out there and approach clients, whereas a product or service that hasn't launched is taken less seriously.
8. Thinking that You're Ever Done Working
You just started. I think the biggest mistake is the mindset that the game has just begun. After all your work designing, developing and testing, there's a celebration when you click launch because you think you've made it. But that isn't the finish line--it's the starting line. Shift your mindset to know the hard work happens after the launch.
9. Lacking an Operating Agreement
Startups should focus on having an operating agreement in place that provides the terms on how the business will operate and be structured. This provides a road map to all involved. In the excitement of launching a company, this step is often ignored, and that can lead to costly ambiguity in the future.
10. Launching Without a Purpose
The launch can be big, so it's wasteful to launch your product just to be launching. It's about understanding the purpose of your launch and making sure that purpose aligns with where you are as a company. For us, we had many "little launches" during a period of a few months, and each had different goals in order to maximize our exposure and keep our momentum rolling.