The great Albert Einstein once said ‘in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity‘. Aside from the tragic human consequences of the COVID–19 coronavirus epidemic, the economic uncertainty it has sparked is likely to cost the global economy over £1 trillion this year alone. Companies of all sizes from the likes of Flybe and Laura Ashley to local retailers are facing difficult decisions regarding their survival.
As most people adopt a survival mentality, savvy individuals are looking for opportunities during the downturn and planning for the future when the economy starts to recover. You can use this downtime to plan your own successes by following these simple steps.
Write a business plan
Creating a business plan does not guarantee your startup will be a success. What it does is however is start you on the right footing as thorough planning often means the difference between success and failure. Where your entrepreneurial dreams are concerned, you should do everything possible to set the stage for success.
Your business plan should detail the objectives of your business and the strategies you will undertake to meet those objectives. A stranger should be able to pick up your business plan, read it through and have a very distinct picture of what your business is, how it runs and how it will succeed. Focus on creating an elevator pitch as part of this process.
Test your idea/products
As an entrepreneur, you need to test your business idea before wasting valuable time and money. It is a very common mistake that many new startups make: not testing The problem is several business owners get excited about something and fail to do the groundwork. A few weeks or months go by and then they realize they’ve wasted time and money on an idea that was never going to get off the ground.
If your product or service is very targeted – for example, if you are only aiming at young, wealthy women – then you need to tap into the right network. If you are going for a niche, it’s good to get a friendship group together. Find someone who fits the profile of your ideal customer and ask them to bring along a group of like-minded friends.
Research startup funding
It is estimated that around 94% of new businesses fail during first year of operation. A lack of funding and regular income is usually the common reason. Money is the bloodline of any business. The long painstaking yet exciting journey from the idea to revenue generating business needs a fuel named capital. That’s why, at almost every stage of the business, entrepreneurs find themselves asking, how do I fund my startup?
Crowdfunding is one of the newest routes start-ups are beginning to take for securing funding. It works by posting your business and project onto a crowdfunding platform and receiving pledges from consumers who promise to donate to the company based on certain criteria being filled. As opposed to an ordinary business pitch, the CEO or founder will usually produce a video to accompany the platform post, detailing the goals and values of the company, plans for how they will make a profit, how much capital is required and what for.
The venture capital route has its positives and negatives. What you get in significant capital you often have to give up in equity and control of your company. Generally, it is not a road worth going down until you are looking for more than £1,000,000. Additionally, it is not the most time-efficient, with around 6 months being required from the initial search and close of the deal. Furthermore, VCs often look to recover their investment within a three-to-five-year window, which can be significant if you are trying to market a product that is taking longer than that to get to market.
Incubators and Accelerators
Usually locally focussed, Accelerator and Incubator programs work to assist start-ups over a period of 4 – 8 months. Aside from their financial contributions, these programs also allow you and your company to make strong connections with others involved in the program, from investors to mentors. Although very similar by design, the main difference between an incubator and an accelerator is the pace of development within the program. Incubators tend to be more meticulous and nurturing towards a company, whereas Accelerators tend to be more focused around hitting particular goals as quickly as possible.
Plan your launch
Get an early start by communicating with both media outlets and relevant industry influencers. Word of mouth is key to gaining coverage at the appropriate time for your launch. Magazine and publishers aren’t going to jump when you snap your fingers, so beginning your outreach strategies at least two months before your official launch date.
Get your brand in front of popular bloggers, social media stars and high-profile customers by sending out free samples of your product in exchange for honest reviews. The right influencers can introduce your product to a whole new potential customer base, and continue to generate excitement until the official launch. If relevant, schedule time with industry analysts with compelling briefing requests.
Start developing your social media strategy. Identify and research your target market so you can tailor your communication directly to their interests. If your product can reach an already established and hungry market, like the tech industry, seed their space with mysterious “leaks,” and build brand recognition and awareness.
Make your brand visible in relevant conversations and regularly interact with influencers and industry thought leaders.
Consider a product launch event to officially announce the launch of your new business with a bang. A unique and well tailored event can be an excellent way to top off months of solid marketing groundwork, and act as the catalyst to push your business to an even wider audience. Make sure to invite the appropriate influencers, social media mavens or industry stalwarts you’ve communicated with so far, keeping the release rolling.