There may be tons of literature on how to launch a startup, to-do checklists, how to raise funds and marketing techniques, but no one will tell you when exactly is the right time to launch your own startup. Actually, there is no ‘right’ time for the go-ahead but yes, some things have to be in place when you seriously plan to launch your startup. Andrew Weinreich, an entrepreneur in NYC and founder of 7 companies, elaborates on 4 steps that you need to carefully think about before you decide to quit your current job to begin a new career at your own startup— a strong idea, enough funds, business plan, and cash flow projections. (Details can be found here).
Ultimately there’s only so much planning that you can do. At one point, you have to set the ball rolling. Here are some tips on timing to get you started:
Don’t wait forever:
If you have an idea and have done your homework well, talked to a bunch of potential customers, don’t wait for too long. But yes, this does not mean that you can go ahead with a subpar product or a mediocre company. When you feel you have information enough, it’s time to move ahead with the launch in an informed way. As Matt Lerner, the CEO of All Star Deals, puts it, “If you have an idea for an App, do it now. Throw it up online…Worry about quality later…”
Set a Launch Date:
Setting a launch puts you on a leash and forces you to focus on the task at hand. We’re all human and no matter the level of motivation, you are likely to enter a tangent that you can’t help but explore. A solid date on your calendar will deter such urges and make things happen faster.
This date should be decided on the basis of the amount of work that needs to be done keeping mind your capacity for executing these tasks with a buffer period.
It’s best to launch with MVP. Don’t over do it.
Release your MVP and let your customers lead you to the next step:
You don’t know your users, so it’s not safe to guess what they want/like. Rather, release something and let them give you feedback. Launching early makes you know if something major’s not working and you can fix it. Dropbox learnt it the hard way– before launching, the co-founders used 0-budget hacks, yet they had to put something in their customer’s hands to generate traction.
Generate some buzz:
Go ahead with some soft launches, promos, beta testing to generate some buzz and get some exposure. Timing will never be perfect for anything and the same holds true for the launch of startups too. Get the word out, and try to get people guessing.
Get the word out, and try to get people guessing. There is nothing like a little anticipation. Also, this lets you test how your competitors perceive you. Use this initial publicity to answer some key questions.
Look for the obvious signs:
If money is coming your way, whether revenue from a soft launch or money from a pre-sale, don’t wait for a ‘good day for launch’. Anthony Sohoo of Dot and Bo says that when people started handing over their credit card details, they knew that the time was perfect for a launch.
Feross Aboukhadjeh took 3 hours to build YouTube instant, inspired by the launch of Google Instant. Overnight, the app generated tens of thousands of views and Ferros became a celebrity. Based on this, Christopher Beam, journalist, New Your Mag wrote, “You’ll never grasp what aspects of your site need more work and require adjustment until you actually put it in front of people. No amount of preparation will be able to act as a substitute for the learning you’ll glean from an actual launch.”