After months of planning, some pain, some stress and some exuberant joy, your startup finally launched and made a big splash. But what happens now?
While you passed what tends to be the most difficult part of starting up, you must maintain momentum and challenge yourself by setting new goals for yourself and your company. Holding yourself and your businesses to higher standards and continuing to charge ahead becomes critical, as competitors can enter the market without warning, and you can’t always rely on your resident industry pundits to accurately forecast the future.
Sustaining momentum following a strong start takes effort, but it remains one of if not the most important steps in the future and prosperity of your company. Consider the following tactics to attain and uphold post-launch success.
• Set goals. Aim high, but stay realistic, and hold your company to it. Marking monumental moments can help you and the rest of the company stay positive and upbeat, but it can also help avoid disasters like getting too big too soon or losing sight of the company’s values.
The most important step is to keep yourself and the company accountable for progress. Go beyond the traditional sales or growth metrics and contemplate achieving feats like capturing some target clients or earning a feature in a big publication.
• Listen closely to your customers. These absolutely essential fans of your business often serve as brand champions, too, so considering and implementing their feedback whenever possible can attach a positive sentiment to your brand and push you to the forefront of their minds.
They want you to succeed, and they look forward to new developments in your company and product, so reaching out every now and then to let them know you hear them can only help. Go beyond responding to customer support emails and create social media accounts (where it makes sense) both for yourself and your company, and engage with your followers whenever possible.
• Monitor the market. You found success through studying the landscape, so continue to survey the scene to stay innovative and relevant in the competitive scheme. Consider the ways you can participate or grow to adapt to changing needs and trends, too – after all, your knack of spotting gaps in the market got you to this point.
Unexpected rivals may enter the market, but understanding your product’s unique features and value proposition will help you keep your edge especially as you continue to innovate and incorporate customer feedback as it suits your business mission and goals.
• Empower your employees. Creating a strong company culture and work environment only makes your internal network stronger. When developing this atmosphere, allow openness and employee dialogue; some of the greatest ideas come from those who know your company best, so allow your employees to speak freely about areas they feel can improve or what they see in the company’s future. An open environment also strengthens their loyalty to the organization, so welcome and build on their feedback on a regular basis.
• Involve the entire community. Expanding your network – both internally and externally – happens through proactive outreach activities. You may find out more about the resources available for your company, employees, and customers by interacting with your company’s community, and it helps make a name for yourself in the area.
Host events for professionals to connect at your office or simply encourage your employees to get involved through volunteerism and charity work. This helps strengthen your company’s brand and also shines a light on the positive impact it makes in the community.
• Lead the way. Your company’s progress starts and ends with you. Employees, partners, vendors, and even your customers look to you for guidance and inspiration. Invest time in yourself to discover your strengths and weaknesses. Consider networking events, conferences, and even interesting hobbies to feel more enthused and motivated about your role as a leader.
The positive vibes following a successful launch can place a company pretty high on a pedestal, but carrying on through the natural ups and downs in entrepreneurship and small business life requires sustained effort. Preparing for and staying conscientious of this fact can help a startup find – and preserve –the fortune it forecasted.
Pete Kazanjy is the founder of TalentBin, an online talent search engine for recruiters and hiring managers based in San Francisco, California. The company was acquired by Monster in February.
Follow On Small Business on Twitter.