How to Charge Ahead While in a Holding Pattern
As entrepreneurs, we're just not wired to wait. As people who are always looking forward and always starting something new, it feels unnatural to have to sit back on our laurels for a long period of time.
This sort of holding pattern often happens in situations we can't control, such as waiting on vendors, partners or customers to act. As the co-founder of GoodFoot, a line of performance-focused socks, I have often witnessed this in the retail space. When you're waiting for a product to be manufactured, there is a long period of silence. It's frustrating, and it feels like an eternity. But, it's important to make the most of that time. If anything, treat that time as a gift; 30, 60 or 90 uninterrupted days of planning, strategizing and getting all your ducks in a row.
Instead of twiddling your thumbs, here's how to charge ahead while in a holding pattern:
Create an action plan
Make a list of everything that must get done prior to launch day in order to have a successful and impactful launch. Design and bug check your website; get your social media and digital marketing plan set up and budgeted for; put systems in place for customer communication; retention and loyalty; write several blog posts in advance that can be paced out over time; select your shipping service; design and print any materials that will be shipped alongside your product.
Utilize team meetings
Schedule weekly follow-ups for team accountability to make sure all members are hitting deadlines and are on track for an on-time launch. Keep these short and efficient by asking each person to come to the meeting prepared with an update and with any asks they have of the other members.
Continue to learn
Reach out to your network for advice on how to optimize your product launch. Read everything you can get your hands on regarding your industry, successful product launches, marketing and pricing, among other steps. Question everything. Now is the time to work out the kinks and solve problems.
Prepare a launch day schedule
Since you've done all the heavy lifting prior to launch, make sure nothing falls through the cracks on launch day. Make a list of all systems that are set to go live so that you can press all the necessary buttons when the day finally arrives. Chances are you will be so excited to launch that you'll forget things if you don't plan for it in advance.
Think about the next design launch
As I mentioned in my last post, product cycles are often longer than you initially budget for. Use this waiting period to be thinking forward to your next design cycle. Waiting on your holiday products? Start innovating and getting prototypes made for next summer's line. It's never too early to start planning, especially when you're waiting on vendors to manufacture the products.
The trick to an optimized waiting period is staying organized. Organization ensures that nothing slips through the cracks, and it keeps you and your team from becoming restless. Even though none of us are used to waiting, these five steps will ensure a productive holding pattern for you and your startup.
Sarah is a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis where she studied systems engineering and entrepreneurship. During her junior year she opened Green Bean, an eco-healthy salad restaurant. She is now in the midst of launching her second business, a line of performance-focused men's business socks: Unfettered Socks. She was a finalist in the Entrepreneurs' Organization's Global Student Entrepreneur Awards in 2012. Find more about her on her website.