Saturday, April 21, 2018

How to Pre-launch a B2B Start-up

How to Pre-launch a B2B Start-up


"I have been toying with a B2B concept for a while. I think it has great potential. How do I take it forward?"

As an entrepreneur, I often get this question from the budding entrepreneurs.

First off, B2B Service (where we operate) is one of the hardest segments to penetrate. Consider these steps (necessary but aren't sufficient) to pre-launch a B2B start-up:

1. If you have a good job, do not jump ship. Instead, take some time off and try out a pilot "live." If your concept/invention pertains to the same industry where you are currently employed, have an Attorney review your employment contract for “conflict of interest” and “no compete” clauses. Since start-ups do not qualify for SBA loans, hire a qualified consultant to review your financials (both business and household), type of business formation (S, LLC, C, etc.), liability insurance, etc., etc.   

2. Make sure you implement your own marketing plan (from the actual business plan) to promote the pilot (as if it were the real launch!). I would rather have an average concept backed by a super-duper marketing plan (recipe for success) than a super-duper concept backed by an average marketing plan.

3. If it is a local service, start networking. Run several live campaigns (with your real money) to get a good feel/reaction from the future clients.

4. If it is a national service, mobilize your marketing rolodex (LinkedIn, FB, etc.), with an announcement that you are open for business.

5. Simultaneously, implement your marketing campaigns on Twitter. Fine-tune campaigns based on Twitter Analytics. Re-implement the plan.

6. Seek advice from the like-minded B2B entrepreneurs - both successful and struggling - to avoid having to reinvent the wheel. It will save you many trips to the ER, so to say.

7. If you have written a book highlighting your concept/invention, join the Amazon Marketing Service to beef up its sale, bolstering “indirect” marketing. The Kindle version alone is not enough - the Paperback is equally important.

8. If it is a Business IT concept (like ours), copyright it, leading to patenting; otherwise, you will have zero protection (read my prior posts for details).

9. Analyze the results as they come in. If you think (preferably in collaboration with a marketing consultant) the results far exceed your (and your consultant's) expectations, initiate a much larger pilot with the updated service coupled with an upgraded marketing plan - i.e., adequately factoring in the inputs (+/-) from the initial pilot. If the follow-up growth curve is exponential (at this point, linear growth is not good enough!), you are "on to something."  

Good Luck!

-Sid Som, MBA, MIM
President, Homequant, Inc.


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