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29th March 2018 Startup

Listen to Mother

“Nicola, you HAVE to give yourself a chance.”

It is a phrase I have heard countless times over the years. It is normally linked to me overcommitting in the diary stakes or trying to get back on my feet too quickly after an illness.

Other life lessons from Mum are also: “Manners maketh man”. “Read the question, read the question and read the question again.” And my favourite – “don’t let the bastards grind you down…” (she is of Scottish heritage and not one to hold back…..)

Anyway, my Mum isn’t in this industry – she is too busy looking after my children so I can work but I do feel she needs to write a guide for entrepreneurs. When it comes to launching your business, you HAVE to give yourself (and your comms team) a chance.

All too often we meet founders in the last stretch – when they’re ready to make that final sprint to the finish line. After years of development, tech build and testing, fundraising and team building, we get a call and a brief to launch within the month. One month.

Launches don’t need to be laboriously long and therefore expensive. But if you’re going to be relying on ‘strangers’ to tell the world about your ideas, hopes, and dream, you should really take the time to get to know each other well.

We always insist on running through a no-frills messaging exercise to check all execs and spokespeople are in agreement and we don’t have any marketing ‘fluff’. We think about the context for a launch – what else is going on in the market/economy and how does that affect positioning?

What about your ‘permission to launch’? Unlike dot-com days or even the web 2.0 era, the fact you exist does not a story make. No-one even cares if you’re young. A ‘young’ entrepreneur in 2018 is 12. Or 10.

We need to look at your proof points: your experience, your market intel, the trials you have run.

Have opinions. You don’t launch a business when you are happy with the existing status quo. You have been frustrated or disappointed or downright angry about existing products or services. What was your motivation to risk your cash and mental health building something from scratch?

You need to tell a journalist or a potential advocate something they don’t already know – and the market is full of smart, well-informed people!

All this takes a bit of time. Not lots. But it is worth taking a breath and finding a potential PR partner early. Get to know them and let them get to know you – they will be an important part of your team at an intense time. They will be the voice for your company, they will handle questions, when they pick up the phone to a contact they need to have all the information and confidently tell your story.

It works best when clients train us up like they initiate any new team member. These are complex topics we are dealing with – the nuances are important. We are not selling lipsticks.

Take the time to get it right – you will only have one chance at a good launch. As Mum says: “Don’t be slapdash”.

Nicky Harrison
@Nicky_Harrison

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