There’s so much to think abut when you’re launching a new business. But bringing your baby into the world is a big deal, and it deserves to happen with a bang not a fizzle. Here’s our handy checklist to help you tell the world you’ve arrived, and get those sales flowing in.

1. Build a website for your new business

Most businesses these days will have a website. These can take time to write and design, so plan plenty of time before your launch day to get this produced.

There are website design options for budgets and businesses of all sizes.

  • If you’re IT-confident, create a DIY website using one of the many excellent template site builders online (like Wix, Squarespace or GoDaddy). A ‘Google My Business’ account includes a free basic website builder too (see below).
  • Not got the time or inclination for DIY? Hire someone to do it for you. A freelance web designer can be an affordable option for businesses on a budget.
  • Bigger firms might cost more, but if your website is a vital tool in your business, this might be the place you need to make that investment.

Don’t just factor in the cost of design. Hiring a copywriter to write the content is a good idea, especially for new businesses. A good copywriter can help you develop your tone of voice to suit your audience, advise on a user-friendly website structure, and craft copy that helps you sell your services.

If you have the time, try to have your website ready in time for when you launch your business. That way, anyone who’s interested in your business can find out more.

2. Set up business social media accounts

Social media provides a free and flexible way for customers to find out more about your business online. Your exact choice of platform will depend on the audience you’re trying to reach (for example, product sales work well on Facebook and Instagram, professional services fare better on LinkedIn and Twitter).

Make sure your social channels are set up in advance of your launch and invite friends to like your pages. If you have time, you can share your progress as you work towards your launch date.

If you can share before-and-after photos of fitting out your premises, new dishes you’re developing, or stock arriving ready to sell, this can build anticipation and excitement.

Don’t forget the ‘social’ part of social media. Make sure you monitor your social media so you can reply to people and engage with their posts. If you can’t reply to messages straight away, add an autoreply that tells people you’ve got their message and when you’ll respond.

3. Sort out Google My Business

Google is the leading search engine – the place people go to find information. They offer a free listing service to businesses that is well worth using. Setting up a ‘Google My Business’ account will show your business on Google maps and provide people with basic details about your business at the top of the search results page. This is valuable real estate that increases your visibility online. Want to know more? Google it!

4. Order your signage

If you have physical premises, you’ll need signage to let people know where you are and what you do. Try to get these ready before your launch day. Not only will it help people find you, it’ll also look great in any photos you share on social media or in the press.

5. Consider advertising

There are lots of advertising options for new businesses. From local press to social media, think about the most effective channel to reach your chosen audience.

A new soft play centre might advertise at a local cinema during family friendly films; an accounting business would be better taking out an advert in a local Chamber of Commerce magazine.

Options include:

  • Paid adverts in trade press
  • Paid social media advertising
  • Ambient advertising – public transport
  • Local media – newspaper, community magazines, cinema, radio
  • Distributing printed materials – posters, flyers etc

6. Write a press release about your business launch

There’s an old saying that ‘news is something somebody doesn't want printed; everything else is advertising’. Much of what you read in the press is actually content that businesses have sent out to the media as a press release.

Time-strapped local journalists are often happy to receive and publish information about new businesses in the community. You can find press release templates online or hire a freelance PR professional to help you.

Tips:

  • Having a strong ‘hook’ or human interest angle will make you more likely to secure coverage, so think about anything interesting you’re willing to share. What challenges did you overcome to launch your business? What pressing community need are you serving?
  • Make sure the first few paragraphs of your press release answer the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY questions, and always include a portrait and landscape image.
  • Remember that some media might have long lead times. A monthly specialist publication will need to receive a press release much earlier than a weekly local newspaper.
  • Make sure your press release includes details of your business – where you are, what you do, when you’re opening, any launch event.
  • Did you work with any professional services companies when you set up? Speak to them about PR opportunities. Here at Transmit Startups, we regularly feature people who’ve had loans in our PR – and it costs them nothing! If that’s you, then contact our team.

7. Set up systems for bookings and customer service

If you’re promoting your phone number, you need to make sure anyone calling gets great customer service. Make sure any staff are primed to answer the phone appropriately and has the knowledge they need to answer any questions they might get. These will depend on your type of business but might include things like: opening times, age restrictions, dietary options, directions, prices etc.

8. Plan a launch event

If you’re a café, shop or community space, you might want to consider a launch event. This could be an open event for members of the public or a private event for key stakeholders and influencers. The old adage of ‘build it and they will come’ doesn’t always work. You need to offer something that people want and promote the heck out of it. Here are some ideas:

  • Exclusive pre-opening preview evening, by invitation only
  • Door prize for 50th customer through the door
  • VIP taster menu evening, by invitation only (café)
  • Free play day; no charge on opening day (leisure facility)
  • Networking event (business / community space)
  • Ribbon cutting ceremony with a local celebrity

To make sure your event is a success, promote it widely. Create invites and send them out in good time. Ask for RSVPs so you know how many to cater for. Send out a press release to local media to let people know about the event.

Don't forget: consistency is key

The key to promoting your business effectively is consistency. Make sure you use a consistent business name, logo, brand colours throughout your launch campaign. Anything else can cause confusion and make your business less memorable.

Business launch communications checklist

Use this checklist as a guide to help you plan communication about your business launch.

When What
At least six weeks to launch
  • Website commissioned
  • Signage commissioned (if relevant)
  • Google business listing started
  • Launch event date agreed and venue confirmed
  • Advertising booked
  • Press release sent to media with longer lead times
Four weeks to launch
  • Website in progress
  • Event invites sent out
  • Event suppliers booked
  • Signage in progress
  • Press release sent to media with shorter lead times
  • Social media channels set up
Two weeks to launch
  • Website looking great
  • Social media channels buzzing with content
  • Staff trained / briefed to give great customer service
One week to launch
  • Website launched
  • Adverts running
  • Signage up
  • Event RSVPs collected, final numbers confirmed for catering etc
Launch day
  • Take a deep breath, smile and enjoy. You’ve made it 😊


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