10 Steps to Help You Launch Your Business in the New Year

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2014 is on the horizon, and the promise of a new year presents an opportunity for brands to rejuvenate their image through innovative campaigns and fresh content.

The new year will be particularly interesting for businesses, in light of the SEC’s decision to lift the 80-year-old ban on general solicitation of capital investments this past September. As a result, how small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs advertise their securities and raise capital will be pivotal not only for the crowdfunding industry but also for the entire investment landscape.Fotolia_52230768_Subscription_XL-300x188

Therefore, if you’re thinking about participating in crowdfunding, or simply introducing the world to your ingenious new product or business idea, here are a few things to consider…

  1. Write out your business plan: Challenge yourself to provide in-depth detail of every aspect of your product and business model. Knowing exactly who you are, what you stand for and how you will face potential problems will help you face the challenges of starting a new venture.
  2. Know the market: Ideally, you are an expert in your field and have tailored your product/company to fit your specific industry. You should also be aware of competitors, making sure what you are delivering is something that has never been seen before.
  3. Understand your customer: In reality, your market is your customer, so you should research who your target audience is, what they expect and how to cater to them in order to achieve the best results.
  4. Clarify goals: After you’ve decided exactly what it is you’re doing, think about what you want to accomplish with this new product, biz, show, etc. Do you want to be publicized in three different outlets three months after your launch? In two years, do you plan on doubling your team size?
  5. Know your skills (and surround yourself with people who have the skills you don’t): Although your new business plan plays to your top assets and passions, you won’t be able to run the show alone. Marketing materials, social media, finances and legalities are just a few of the things companies must deal with, so seek out people who you can trust and delegate.
  6. Network with influencers: Regardless of which field you’re in, you’ll probably find more success based on who you know. Before launching a new idea, it’s important to mingle with like-minded professionals and to continue networking throughout your career. You never know how a past professor, new neighbor or online connection could help grow your business.
  7. Have the hard stuff already figured out: Even if you do succeed with number three quickly, you will still be the point person for when bills are due, customers are upset or employees get sick. Therefore, part of your business plan should include thorough plans of action and contacts to ease your load.
  8. Test your idea: Even if you are in love with your launch, you never know how the public will react until you ask them! Gather friends and family before going viral to gauge their reactions, thoughts and constructive criticism.
  9. Create a social presence: In today’s day and age, your online brand speaks volumes. You should have several social media sites that not only demonstrate your organization’s mission or product but also maintain a steady stream of relevant content. You should also regularly add, follow and engage with new people in your social circles.
  10. Consider an accelerator: Joining an accelerator community is one of the most efficient ways to create networking opportunities and form bonds throughout your industry with like-minded individuals and companies. Building a successful brand is a long road, but it is easier with expert advice and tight-knit system of supportive peers. Accelerators and co-working spaces are great options for shared collaboration that will ultimately help you achieve significant success.