Every entrepreneur knows the value of pre-launch research and analysis. It's the leg work that leads to understanding who's going to buy what you're selling and at what cost. Though we know that iteration is inevitable, and failures are expected at least part of the time, the pre-launch work is fundamental to success.

Too often, however, we overlook the value of long-term strategic thinking during the pre-launch phase. We over-prioritize the launch itself at the expense of building the foundational structures that will "hold up" the business through the launch and for the foreseeable future.

This topic arose within my own business over the past few months, leading up to last week's announcement of Enolytics Spain, our first international partnership. We didn't explicitly identify our new partners in our pre-launch work, and they were not indicated in our original business plan. But we did prioritize factors that led to the partnership that has now come to fruition, and that positions us to accommodate more opportunities that align with our mission and priorities.

How does that happen?

Here are three suggestions for building the foundation of your business in the pre-launch phase, in order to accommodate changes further on.

Recognize the Momentum

Our business is wine and data. Certainly there are other businesses who are actively working in this space and have been for some time. But that isn't the same as having momentum or a fresh outlook that is reflexive toward evolving needs.

The group who are now our partners in Madrid was already working with data. They already had industry contacts. And they were, in fact, already thinking of launching a similar project. "We'd been thinking of doing the same thing," they told us, "but you did it first." It was a question of matching their momentum and our own, which they had come to recognize through our content marketing and outreach.

Join the flow and learn from the other fish in the stream. Then swim faster and create wakes of your own.

Build a Replicable Business Model

It's important, of course, for the business model to be replicable and scalable. It's also important that it can accommodate new iterations, often in markets around the world.

In our case, some of our most significant data partners have a global footprint. That means that the work we've been doing for clients mainly within the U.S. is also doable outside the U.S., namely Spain in this case and also throughout Europe.

Though every project is unique, creating templates for processes streamlines work flow and "builds in" scalability.

Face to Face Matters

Enolytics Spain's team leader drove from Madrid to Bordeaux to meet me last November, after a week of teaching at a university there. We sat and talked on the edge of a fish market, with a few burly and very vocal fish mongers in the background, in the midst of a bustling Saturday morning market in early winter. The business of data is transacted in zeroes and ones, of course, but face-to-face is where the business of partnerships are transacted.

Take some time quietly to consider who you've met recently that you can envision working with. What gatherings or conferences can you attend where there are like-minded people? Like-minded, that is, in terms either of the technology or the mission, or both. 

Where is there already momentum around the idea? In which markets can your idea also work, where you haven't already prospected? Your answers to these questions are all clues for where -- and to whom -- to look for your next iteration or partnership.

Published on: Feb 14, 2018