Launching Your Business


Launching a business is much like planning a military campaign.  It requires research and planning to achieve the goal.  A business owner must research whether there is a market for the new business’ product or service and then plan to achieve the goal of running a successful business.

There is plenty of advice on launching a business, much of it contradictory since there are so many variables to consider.  What legal structure should I use to protect my personal assets?  How much market research should I do about my service or product?  Who is my target market and how do I let them know I’m open for business?  It’s all very confusing, even with the best plan.

That’s because the best plans fail.  There’s a famous military axiom that “no plan survives first contact with the enemy” (substitute “the market”).  In business this axiom means that you need to plan well but be prepared to adjust quickly.

For example, I launched my business with a service that I thought would be a winner.  However, within a few months I realized that I had misjudged the market.  So I revised my entire business and re-launched it.  A few years later, a key client walked away and I had to revamp my services and re-launch again.

Creating a great product or service is just the beginning of the effort to launch a business.  A business owner also needs to understand the competition.  In military terms, it means knowing the topography over which the attack will be launched.  For example, military planners avoid attacking directly into a strongly defended position.  They prefer flanking attacks to catch the opponent in a weak spot.

For a business owner, this means knowing what your competitor does best. There’s no point going head-to-head with an established competitor unless your product or service is significantly better.  Inertia and draconian cancellation policies tend to keep people locked in to their existing vendor’s services.

When I think back to the launch of my business, there are two major tasks that I wish I had done differently.  First, I wish I had researched the market more effectively to avoid wasting so much time on a service that didn’t sell.  Second, I wish I had given more thought to how I would deliver my services.  Marketing is not my strong suit.  I could have avoided a lot of heartache by admitting the obvious and outsourcing these tasks much sooner.

About Norma Shirk

Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy. Visit Norma’s website:

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