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Life & Business

3 Simple Launching Systems You Can’t Afford Not to Have

by Sabrina Smelko

Life & Business: Farideh Caesar

Farideh Ceaser (who has the coolest name ever, which is pronounced “fair-a-day”) is a music-maven-turned launch strategist. After 15 years on the road touring as a musician, Farideh switched gears and now helps entrepreneurs launch their big ideas and online courses — even delivering wisdom in the form of a ukelele and a song. Farideh believes in a “no bull” approach to business and says no to blazers, monotone voices, icky-gross sales techniques and yes to authenticity, creative expression and personalized marketing that applies to your vision and needs. Today she’s offering her expertise to help movers and shakers, whether aspiring or experienced, with her recipe for a successful launch, whether it’s a product, e-course, book or website. –Sabrina

As a business owner, at some point, you’ll be launching something. It’s inevitable. No matter what you’re launching — a new physical product, an in-person event or an online offering — you need a launch system. Don’t let the idea of a “system” put you off — it’s merely a structure that will help you save your sanity, while increasing your ability to succeed. Many of us resist systems as they feel like they will stifle creativity and the ability to adapt to things as they come up. But a great system actually helps us be more creative as all the nitty gritty details are under control and you aren’t waking up in the middle of the night worried about the basics. The cardinal rule of every launch is that something will go wrong. And when it does, having systems in place helps you get back on track that much faster as you’ll have a foundation in place and aren’t recreating the wheel as you are in crisis mode. Every launch needs a few essential systems. Here are three simple launching systems:


1. A Project Management System

Launching anything means there are a million details. Details that can easily get out of control or slip through the cracks if you don’t have them handled. Which is why a project management system of some type is a must.

A good project management system will help you manage all the files, documents and tasks related to your launch. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet or you can step it up and use an online tool such as my favorite, Basecamp. The scope and size of your launch will dictate what’s best for you, but before you launch, give some thought to how your brain works best, what your team or collaborators may need and then try out a couple different approaches. For example, an online tool would allow you to assign tasks and due dates, while a spreadsheet may be more static and be hard to keep up-to-date. But if your team isn’t technology savvy, an online system may be creating more work. Once you choose a tool, then figure out all of the elements of your launch from marketing to sales to inventory to thank you cards and create a master list. Break things down by category and get as specific as possible with who’s responsible, the timeline, what they need and more. With that master list in hand, you can get it all set up in your project management system and be ready to roll at launch time. Best of all, once you have a project management system in place for launching, you’ll have a well documented record for the next time you launch to use as a starting point.

2. Finance Systems

Typically, a launch is designed to help generate income. But the reality is that expenses related to a launch can easily get out of hand and quickly eat into your profits. Which is why before you launch anything, you need a budget and to track expenses against it as you go through your launch. First of all, create a budget before you commit to anything. Take the time to run all of the numbers first. As creatives we have LOTS of fantastic ideas. But if you run the numbers you’ll see what ideas are more profitable, easier to execute and make more sense for you in your business at this time. Tracking finances for your launch doesn’t mean you have to have a full-blown bookkeeping system. It can be as simple as using a spreadsheet where you have your budget and track all of your expenses including hidden fees such as: transport, PayPal charges, post launch charges such as tax, and the cost of creating the product if it’s a physical item. To be safe, you may want to add a 10-15% budget cushion for surprises. Then, in the next column, guesstimate the sales you would need for this to pay off, or projected sales based on past experiences. How much do you need to sell to break even? How much do you need to sell for you to get paid for your time? How much do you need to sell for it to be worth it to do this again? With that information, you can make a well-educated decision before you get too far into launching. As you go through your launch, track your actual costs in a new column called “actuals,” input the final costs and ensure you are still on track. Do the same with your final sales. Then track your results during launch and do a full assessment once things are wrapped up. Over time, this will allow you to see how profitable particular launches are compared to each other and year-over-year.


3. Payments/Registration Systems

For your event to be a success, you need a flawless registration system and a way to collect payment that’s quick, easy and reliable. The goal is to make it easy for people to buy from or sign up with you. When it comes to payment and registration you have a lot of options. You can choose a simple system such as a spreadsheet to track attendees or sales. If you need something more robust due to the size of the event or launch, you can take payments via your smartphone through the Paypal or Stripe apps or with a “buy now” button or cart on your website. If you’re selling products, you want to include a system for you to count inventory going in and out, which you can set up via a shopping cart program such as Shopify. For in-person events, Eventbrite and Cvent offer one-stop shopping where you can have people register and pay through their site. Payment is handled for you, and you have everything you need for registration lists, name badges and even email follow-up for your event.


Take Action Now

Take a look at your launch plans and figure out where you may need to improve upon your systems. Does your team know what they need to do? Do you know how much this launch will cost you? How will you accept payment and register attendees or track your inventory? Answering those questions and creating systems will help you get focused on the big picture. Do you have a launch system that I have missed? I’d love to hear your advice in the comments.


Want more? Check out Farideh’s free 30-Day Launch Checklist and Calendar. What are you launching?!

 

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Comments

  • I love the idea of mapping out a budget. In the past I’ve kept rough budgets in my head for launches, but I do think it would help to see it all on paper. I’m gearing up for a quick and dirty launch right now, trying to see how simply and quickly I can get an e-book and online course out the door. Thanks for the tips, Farideh! Love your website.

  • My textiles launch site is going live tomorrow! This is perfect for planning my full product launch in the spring. I’ve been using excel to map out my schedule as well as my budget, but It would be great to have more references. Looking forward to diving into Farideh’s launchy course! (As always, design*sponge has everything I need.)

  • Great tips Farideh! In in the excitement of getting a product (physical or digital) out in the world, we often forget about the financial tracking in the development phase. So crucial – and obvious – and often overlooked. Inspired by some of your other writing and training, I’ve got much better tracking systems in place for all of my projects. THANK YOU!

  • Project management system (Basecamp) has truly saved me so many hours of searching my email and headaches. Now working on financial systems right now. It’s never too late to improve your systems but it makes life much easier when everything is organized and done with purpose. Love this Farideh! xx

  • Thank you Farideh for this great article! I love all of the tips. Especially the reminder that this is a process, not an event. We need to treat a launch just like the other aspects of our business…track, measure and improve.

  • Great tips Fraideh! I love basecamp as a project management tool. I learned that having a finance system really helped me during my most recent launch. I was able to capture emails send welcome emails with ease. Thanks again for sharing these great tips. :)

  • Thank you for sharing! There are SO many steps to launching – these are really important reminders to get systems in place first. Thanks for sharing!

  • Awesome tips Farideh. I’ve tried launching without a system in place in the past and it was a stressful nightmare. It’s so true that there are so many little details in launching (no matter how big or small) that keeping track of this stuff in an organized way will make all the difference. I’ve never been great with the budget part, so this is a good reminder for me not to forget that piece next time!

  • I’m so excited! A year ago, I wouldn’t be doing half this stuff. But with a launch coming up in two weeks, I’m doing ALL of it already! Thanks for the reminders, Farideh. Makes me feel so happy to know I’ve got things covered.

  • The finance one…absolutely. The costs can feel small so it doesn’t feel necessary to plan for them upfront. But I’m seeing, in general, how a million “small” costs can really add up to something significant. Which is fine–but only if it’s all part of a plan and feels purposeful. Great advice.

  • Great point about the break even calculation and financial planning. When the initial math reveals that you’ll need to sell 324,534 widgets to break even…it may be time to head back to the drawing board! :)

  • These are awesome tips! Launching seems like the scariest, most gigantic thing to me, but Farideh breaks it down so well—it seems almost doable!

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