Finally launching your startup app is a tiny phase in the startup journey. Many entrepreneurs pour blood, sweat, tears and cash to take their idea to market just to realize the real work starts then. You may have all the proof you need to validate the usefulness of your product early in the path to market stage, but only when you release your solution will you learn if it is what your buyers need. Usefulness and need are two different things. Successful startups meet both success criteria.
Picture a business world where you can commit to building a good product even if it takes years, launch it and instantly become profitable. This is what every entrepreneur wishes for, but in reality, the first question you will ask after launch is, now what? Not in a way where customers are buying faster than you can count and you want to figure out the next growth stages while satisfying existing customers. In most cases, it’s more like, what do we do now that the product is out, a few signed up but no customers yet?
Building a startup is a process. Yes, if you do your homework, validate quickly and iteratively to make sure your product is useful and needed, your “now what?” will be more about how you can keep the momentum going rather than rethink your business model. But no matter how ready you think you are, the “launch” is just the start. No success story is built with just a start. Here are four important tips and strategies to avoid the common post-launch silent period.
1. Manage Your Expectations
Overnight success in business is a 10-year project. There are thousands of multi-million dollar startups with failed initial product versions but managed to make the necessary changes that turned them into success stories.
The first thing you need to do is to manage your expectations. Your first version of your product launch will not be it. It sure is one of the most important releases since you will be testing the riskiest assumption with the core solution.
Whether you validate or invalidate your hypotheses, you will always ask, now what? There will be several next stages and if you are not mentally prepared, you will quit. I see it happen all the time. Many entrepreneurs quit not because their ideas or products fail, but mostly because they fail to continue.
2. Release Product Quicker
It’s common to lose faith in an idea after a year trying to get it built. In this case, entrepreneurs are much more likely to quit soon after launching. The worry is that it will take as much time to release future versions and reach profitability.
Releasing product versions quickly will not only allow you to evaluate progress continually, but also, it’s a way to stay motivated and excited for the next stages. Above all, if things aren’t working out, you can make important changes before incurring extra costs and wasting more time.
3. Ensure Pre-launch Demand
The solution is simple. If you want customers as soon as you launch your product, you must prepare them for your launch ahead of time. In fact, building a pool of leads, and even customers by preselling your product, is your first real opportunity to validate customer needs and expectations.
If you can’t get people excited or committed by at least giving you some time for an interview, chances are you will have a hard time getting them excited after launch. It may also be a sign the product is not important for them.
4. Budget For The Future
Another common mistake many entrepreneurs make is invest up to 100% of their budget in the first version of the product. Once it’s live and changes or additions are required, they don’t have the funds to keep going.
As a rule of thumb, budget for at least twelve months after launch, that is, the initial investment plus twelve months of operation. Additionally, have another 50% of your twelve-month budget reserved for pivots or changes in the idea. This is what I call a pivot fund. Since most startups end up changing their product or business model, the pivot fund will be used for those unexpected big changes.
Finally and once again, be prepared, manage your expectations. Most startups don’t just fail, it’s their founders that fail them. It can feel lonely and tiring to build a startup. That’s why only a few make it. The first step is to set your mind to long-term success.