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A Marketer's View: An 11-Step Plan for Launching Your Startup

by Melissa Cohen  |  
February 13, 2015

Disclaimer: the headline on this article promises you 11 steps to launch a startup. It does not promise you 11 easy steps or 11 simple steps or 11 anyone-could-do-it-before-breakfast-without-breaking-a-sweat steps.

Launching a startup is difficult—there's no way around that.

In the best of markets, 75% of venture-backed firms fail to deliver returns on their investments, according to 2012 research from Harvard Senior Lecturer Shikhar Ghosh.

Today, VC firms are debating whether that grim statistic might be exacerbated by a forthcoming tech bubble. Nevertheless, many entrepreneurs decide to launch companies every year.

If you're determined to join their ranks, here's what you need to know about how to launch your business so it lasts.

1. Make sure the service, product, or business you're launching is something you're passionate about and you're in it to win, no matter what. Don't start a business that you don't know much about and for which you aren't willing to learn more. It will never grow.

2. Partner up. Launching a company is a long journey (if things go well) that takes multiple skill sets. Few people can claim expertise in product development, operations, marketing, sales, and every other function you'll need in the early days of your business. That's why so many successful startups are founded by partners or teams. Just make sure you have defined roles and mutual respect from the beginning.

3. Articulate the vision and test-drive messages. Even if you plan to stay in stealth mode for a while, to boost your profile and set the stage for your eventual coming-out party you'll need to craft some messages and positions on industry trends. As you near launch, you'll also need to test-drive your value proposition and overall messaging with beta customers and industry analysts. If those messages aren't resonating with those audiences, you're not ready.

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Melissa Cohen is senior vice-president of account services at public relations firm Metis Communications, based in Boston.

LinkedIn: Melissa Cohen

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  • by Ford Kanzler Fri Feb 13, 2015 via web

    Suggest #3,10 and 11 need to focus on the competitive difference. There are lots of ways of discovering that, and it doesn't necessarily have to be about the product but without clear differentiation that matters to customers, the start up will struggle in those three areas and perhaps others. Lots more on this in Jack Trout's "Differentiate Or Die."

  • by Michael O'Daniel Sat Feb 14, 2015 via web

    All true, but the people who make up these lists always forget the No.1 item: Make sure the product works as advertised! Without that, all the other marketing steps are irrelevant anyway.

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