Monthly Archives: November 2016

Launching a New Business or Product

Your business or product launch is the first impression people will remember. These five steps can help you make your launch a success. It’s not enough to create a great business or product. If you want to be successful, you need to take steps to plan and execute a well-timed, memorable launch that will bring your product to the attention of more people in more locations.

In today’s competitive marketplace, businesses need to begin their promotional efforts before they actually start selling their wares. Additionally, companies need to find ways to stand out from the noise while making the right first impression on early adopters. Here are 5 steps for launching a new product in a way that’s smart, strategic, and most of all effective:

1. Conduct Testing

Just because you’ve created an ingenious product that you believe fills an existing dearth in the marketplace doesn’t mean you’re ready to start selling. Good business owners take time to test their new items and perform necessary adjustments. Before listing a product for sale on your website, or stocking it in your retail store, send out complimentary versions for trusted clients to test and evaluate. The goal is to collect feedback from surveys and focus groups so you can make any needed improvements before releasing the product to the market. One of the reasons that testing is so crucial is that it ensures a product’s first impression with buyers will be a positive one. After all, if you release a flawed or buggy item, customers will remember that fact and be loath to try future versions. The internet means shoppers have virtually endless options, and they are unlikely to give a second chance to a disappointing company or product.

 

2. Contact Influencers

Blogs and social media sites are great for marketing new businesses and products online. However, if you only post about your brilliant invention on your own website, you’re unlikely to generate the sales results you desire. Instead, startups should target key influencers, or trusted brand advocates, in their chosen industries. Start by creating a list of popular bloggers, social media experts, and even high-profile customers, who have shopped with you before. You can then email or message these individuals and ask them to review a free sample of your product. If they like the item, the chances are good that they will blog about it or share details with their social followers. The goal is to generate buzz and excitement about a product before you launch and identify any outstanding issues that could affect your item’s ability to generate a profit.

 

3. Get Your Team Excited

It doesn’t matter how strong your product is if your marketing and customers service teams aren’t behind you. Before launching your new item, it’s important to educate your employees and get them excited about the item. Ideally, you will also involve product managers and sales staff throughout the item’s development, so they can weigh in on aspects. To prepare your team members for launch, sit down with them to discuss the product ahead of time and ensure they have the resources needed to support customers and answer their questions. For best results, create a number of small but attainable goals so employee morale stays high throughout the launch.

Growth Strategy of Business Tips

Setting up a business is hard, but growing your business can be even harder. Have you got a successful business and aren’t sure how to plan for growth? Read on for some expert advice on devising a growth strategy.

Sasha Kerins is a tax partner with Grant Thornton in Kildare. With over 16 years of experience in tax advisory roles, she has also advised businesses in areas including e-commerce and construction. We spoke to Sasha to get her expert opinion on devising a growth strategy for your business – and some of the pitfalls you need to watch out for when expanding.

Every Business Needs a Growth Strategy

“Strategy in business is really important from the point of view of focus. To identify what your strategy is, you’ll need a business plan in place. The business plan identifies the milestones that you need to hit to achieve that growth.

One of the key questions in any plan or strategy is: where are you adding value? What is the proposition of your business that’s going to differentiate it from everyone else out there? Asking those questions is a key element of any strategic process.  That will identify where the growth is in the business, be it nationally, within Europe, or internationally.”

The Importance of a Constantly Evolving Business Plan

“The business plan should be a constantly evolving document. Remember, it’s both an operating tool that you can use internally within the business and a marketing aid externally – from a funding perspective when you go to talk to the bank, from a grant perspective when you go to talk to various different government bodies and from a third-party investor perspective.”

Factors to Consider When Growing Your Business

“When you have a strong existing sustainable business and you look at growth there are two important questions that you need to ask:”

  1. Where is the growth going to come from? If it’s a manufacturing business you may need to scale up production or outsource. You may need to take on new employees which has its own cost. With growth, is it going to add to your margin or are you going to have to sacrifice some of your existing margin to achieve it? There’s no point in growing the business for the sake of growing it if it’s not going to give added value and add profit to the bottom line.
  2. How is it going to be funded? Cash is key to all businesses. You need to consider whether you’re going to use existing cash within the business to fund the growth or use external providers. The real risk is that you could end up being in a position where you’ve used funds from the existing business or you can’t fund what you’ve planned to fund over the period.”

Guilty of overestimating business

And if anyone should know, it’s Bobby Healy, founder of Ireland’s most valuable tech company, CarTrawler, which facilitates airlines, online travel agents and accommodation providers by connecting their customers with car rental, private transfers and rail connections all over the world.

Before CarTrawler – long before, in fact – Bobby founded travel software firm Eland Technologies as a young twenty-something back in Mexico City back in the 1980s.

Speaking on The Capital B podcast about the rise of Eland Technologies in Mexico over 30 years ago, Bobby said: “There was no Internet, there were no mobile phones, we had a real tangible business that was selling magic. No-one knew what software was, but we were making millions of dollars selling stuff to them.”

Asked by host Nick Webb about how he grew the company, Bobby explained that getting the right talent was the most important thing and how he discovered just how much of an advantage being Irish really was.

“The same applied back then, nearly 30 years ago, as it does now,” Bobby said.

“It was getting really good technology people that sometimes aren’t the best at vocalising their abilities or commercialising them and forming a team with really strong tech people”.

“I think what was unique about me and us at the time, was that we were able to commercialise it. It’s something I would always say that the Irish, for whatever reason, we’re accepted, like American Express, in every country; we’re just universally accepted and that is an inherent cultural advantage we have.”

“My company, everywhere we’ve been, we’ve always seemed to capitalise on that.”

A fascinating character, in an excellent interview with Nick Webb, Bobby also spoke about being held at gunpoint in Mexico, losing millions after 9/11 and being dressed up as Willy Wonka while Northern Irish rockers Ash, performed in his back garden.

Lessons from the AIB for Your Business

Noel Davidson is the lead trainer with the Entrepreneurs Academy and the AIB Start-up Academy Bootcamp – our new nationwide initiative that aims to provide entrepreneurs with the tools to make their business a success. Taking place in 19 locations across the country, each Bootcamp is a comprehensive half-day workshop designed specifically for people for people who are in the first few years of their business – covering everything from market research to networking, sales and finances. We spoke to Noel to get some practical lessons for business owners direct from the Bootcamp programme.

1. Take Time Out

Taking time out from your business is a theme that Noel returns to again and again. In fact, he sees it as the most important lesson of each Bootcamp. “For many people when they start up a business, it just becomes a job that they work on day-to-day and that they’re essentially stuck in,” he explains. “Our theory is that you shouldn’t see it just as a job. Instead, you should be aiming to build a business – work on the business rather than get stuck working in the business.”

 

2. Leverage LinkedIn

Noel is a staunch advocate of the power of the wisdom of crowds, and points to LinkedIn as an essential tool for business research. “The power of recommendation is huge,” he says. “If a business contact is recommended to you, you can look them up on LinkedIn and see the contacts you have in common. Which means you can research them before you do business with them.”

 

3. The Power of Search

Another everyday tool that can have immediate benefits for business owners is Google. It’s something that everyone is familiar with but Noel believes isn’t used to its full potential. “We’re all used to using Google every day,” he says. “But when we type something into Google, we often ignore the bottom of the page that shows you related searches. So, if you type in your business area or type, you’re going to see other things that people have been searching around that topic. Not only can that tell you what people want from your product – it can tell you whether they want it at all.”

 

4. Network, Network, Network

One of the major benefits of the Bootcamp is getting the opportunity to talk to and learn from other business owners. But even if you’re not attending, Noel believes that you should still work on your networking when you can. “Setting up a business and running a business is a very lonely role,” he says. “Which is why it’s so important to talk to other business owners. You’ll be able to share learnings and, more importantly, contacts. If you have a hurdle you want to cross and somebody else at a different stage in their journey has crossed it already, their help can be invaluable.”