I’m guessing your head is swimming with fears, anxieties, or worse: over-enthusiasm. That’s the range of feelings most entrepreneurs get when they are near launch.
It’s all good.
Too many reach this point in a stage of euphoria. Unprepared. Acting on impulse. Shooting for the sky while standing on the cliff’s edge
There has never been a startup entrepreneur more ready to start than you.
The energy that pre-launch brings to you is good. Suddenly, last minute ideas are popping into your head and you’re asking, “Why didn’t I think of this sooner?” Or, “Maybe I’m not ready yet!”
Good entrepreneurs never stop thinking. If those last minute ideas are worth doing, do it now. This is pre-launch. If not now, then do it during startup. Creative thinking never ends for the great entrepreneurs.
Be flexible. Be prepared for the unexpected and go with the flow. Now and forever!
Prepared. But Still Fine-tuning.
It’s just that some of those ideas may improve launch. They’re worth considering before you set the date. Some may even be critical to your launch and worth doing now. Put launch off if you have to. There are no rules against it.
In my case, the ideas of audio versions of each NME class and crafting memes to create a presence of The Company of Ones on Facebook are musts.
On the other hand, the need for talent first is no surprise.
And so, my pre-launch is big and complicated.
If yours is typical, it will not be so big. The difference between the two of us is scale. Most startups begin small and then scale up.
No matter what scale, however, what you do during the excitement of pre-launch is very similar.
Game Day in the Locker Room
For sure you’re looking game day in the face but you need to think of last-minute tactics and action plans. You need to pick your first few plays.
Many startup entrepreneurs begin with a Grand Opening. They decorate their space, fill it with goodies and invite everyone to come. It’s the startup version of “build it and they will come.” More of a self-celebration than a start.
If you’re just another software provider or handyman, you better have some really good goodies. Otherwise, they won’t come. They don’t know you yet.
And having met you, they will likely forget you before they really need you.
One thing I don’t like about a Grand Opening is that it attracts the worst customers. Unknowns who are just out to take advantage of another startup entrepreneur. They don’t come to hear your sales pitch. Just for the goodies.
Instead, I prefer social networking and media first. Get the word out to your eventual customers!
Think about it. You are small. How many customers can you handle right off? Would you prefer to “catch as catch can,” or would you like to pick and choose customers who are looking for quality, not deals. Customers with a large personal network with which they might spread your word.
Become Known Before You Start
People aren’t looking for “just another vendor.”
Today people are looking for more than skills or intelligence. They are looking for people who are likely to do it better. Or do it differently.
They are likely to be impressed by your passion, your story and what you do. Signs that you can be trusted.
That’s a hard relationship to develop when you’re selling something. Your customers need to get to know you first before you make your sales pitch.
If you have adopted the SSP business model, you have quite an attention-getting method of introducing yourself.
Whether you are following the business model as a DIY, or you’re the lucky owner of the Company of Ones test project, or you become a Company of Ones franchisee, when it’s up and running, you are a fascinating story.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: SSP is not only a better way of doing business, it is a sure fire attention-getter and customer draw.
Be Sure You Can Deliver
You don’t want to slip on the starting line.
Take stock of everything you’ve done so far to prepare for the startup moment.
More importantly, consider what still needs to be done. Especially if you — as I have — are creating a business that you cannot possibly handle alone. The worst thing you can do at startup is to disappoint your customers.
“Start small, go big” might be good advice, but too small is a killer. In my case, there is no way I can do it alone.
I’m looking for a half dozen professionals with exceptional talent and willing to invest it in my company. You need many of the same skills and experience on your team. But for you, a team of experts is beyond possibility.
Instead of a full team, you may need a partner or another indie entrepreneur who is a business generalist with enough knowledge to handle all the business functions simultaneously.
Since you’re following the SSP business model, I suggest you have your generalist take the NotMyEconomics course before making a final decision. It is certain your generalist is steeped in the old business model, not ours. He or she will need to be willing and able to adapt.
As your business grows you can bring in the specialists you need, and your generalist may step up to be your number two and potential successor.
And last but not least, find mentors and supporters. Not only can they help you as advisers, they are likely well-connected, providing the possibility of reaching out to their own networks.
Not Just Any Tom, Diego or Hannah
I repeat this point from the last essay because it is so important.
Because the SSP business model depends on intellectual/human capital, you need to find the right humans.
If you have no experience in talent acquisition, I highly recommend that you find a mentor or a coach who will help you out.
Talent selection is so important. And most of we amateurs depend on gut instinct. Which is the worst way.
Once you have the best candidates picked out, it’s time to give them your pitch. You’re not hiring them, you are inviting them to invest their talent and gain the use of your infrastructure as indie entrepreneurs.
If they are uncomfortable with your offer, don’t push it.
You want people who are serious risk-takers and go-getters with real entrepreneurial spirit. People who see the value in the opportunity you are offering them. And, they have to really want it!
Like Me, You Also Are Building a Company for Others
We are doing this for the same reason.
You are building a socially responsible, self-managed, profit-sharing business where there are no bosses and everyone owns his or her own work.
Although your company’s purpose is built on a set of ideals, your role is capitalistic. Your purpose as a recruiter is to sell, not buy.
The people you are looking for are ones who are willing to invest their human capital in your company as real stakeholders. They will give their best work and receive their fair share of the company profits (net gain).
Logistics and Marketing A Matter of Reach
In the previous essay I emphasized the operational issues regarding logistics. However it is also one of the main considerations in marketing.
As you’ve seen, I’ve selected an area based on travel time. It will work for me both in marketing and fulfillment.
You will also choose the area based on marketing requirements.
If yours is purely an online business then you may want to reach out further. But be careful not to over sell or over reach.
Online marketing is yet another specialty deserving additional study. Learn online or go to your community college.
Learn All You Can About Your Targets
As you can see in my previous essay, there are websites that can provide you with geographic data that include customer preferences. There is a wealth of information online that you can slice and dice for your own advantage.
The more you know about the people you need, the smarter you will become in both strategy and marketing.
Human Capital Is Your First Customer
We have reached the last and most important lesson.
You have seen in the previous chapter that my first pre-launch priority is to recruit.
- students for the Not My Economics class,
- an entrepreneur for a test project,
- and a team of leaders to put flesh on the bones of COWORK Entrepreneurs.
I’ll be recruiting students for NME because my first priority is serving the common good. The course is free.
However, the NME course turns out to be an opportunity to get the word out about the SSP business model and COWORK Entrepreneurs. It will likely become a pathway from which we will find the best candidates for our future franchisees.
My first campaign will tap the market for talent. Prospective entrepreneurs.
Your first customer will likely be the same.
Since you are following the SSP business model, your first customer is not the consumer. It’s the talent.
You will not be “buying” talent. You will be selling talent an interest in your company. You will not be recruiting employees. You will be marketing to prospective human capital investors. That is, entrepreneurs or would-be entrepreneurs who will own their own work for profit, not pay.
It is an unusual offer.
When you find prospective colleagues you will have a lot of explaining to do.
But among workers you will have a receptive audience. Surveys reveal that more than half of American workers are unhappy at work.
Many of them talk about “owning their own work.” For real.
They dream of actually being their own boss. Of being an independent entrepreneur.
Lack of resources and fear of risk are all that hold them back. You, as a startup company following the SSP business model, have the answers to those concerns.
You are offering a ready-made infrastructure that requires no financial investment. You offer a workplace environment where people own their own work and earn a fair share of the company gains they help create.
At startup, you can probably do with part time (second job) entrepreneurs who want to test your waters. That may work for you if you don’t have full time work at startup.
In time, the deal will become real and lucrative. Soon you will have the pick of the crop. A mix of full and part time entrepreneurs who will grow with your company.
Introduce yourself through publicity.
Cold calls might work in some cases, but you will do better if these workers hear about it in the news or on the grapevine. And you have a great story to tell.
Tell it to the business editor at your local newspaper and he or she will tell it to the masses.
Keep the Internet hot with your story and be sure to send it where workers are likely to see it.
Your Second Customer Is the Consumer
A harder nut to crack, you may think.
However, the publicity you’ve used to attract entrepreneurs will also have been seen by prospective customers. They’ll be curious. Interested.
At first, they may not be so much interested in how you operate your business as they will be about how your company might help them.
And you will be surprised to learn that it isn’t all about price.
According to a Forbes survey, 88 percent of consumers “want businesses to help them make a social difference.” In the same survey, consumers were asked:
“Do you think personal actions (like donating, recycling or buying ethically can make a difference in the world?”
Fifty-one percent said “Yes!”
The point is, customers are not as blackhearted as you might think. They are just misinformed or not very well informed. They are unwittingly part of the problem.
They want to know better but they are victims of media brainwashing based on price or promotion, not purpose. Or they are victims of an economy that forces them to the big box to get the lowest price.
Nevertheless, there is something nagging them. They don’t quite know what it is and they don’t know what to do about it.
They will be surprised by your view of social responsibility.
Be gentle, not negative, but let them know that their buying behavior can make a difference in the local economy. You will help them by recycling the money they spend on you back in the community’s pockets to boost the economy in which you work.
Don’t let anyone tell you the public will not care. The public is large. A significant segment will be genuinely interested in what you have to say.
Your story will be a breath of fresh air in a community just waiting for you.
Go on to the next essay.
Final After Class Chat