Sticking To The Plan

By Amber Walsh

When launching a new company or product, a key component to the success of your launch lies in the months leading up to the launch itself. Having a strategic, detailed launch plan can help you to properly prepare for everything to come. 

Approach your launch with confidence and stand out from the crowd, knowing that the first impression your audience has of your new project is both memorable and favorable. Even the best product or business model may never achieve success if it fails during launch and never gains the momentum it needs to succeed. Likewise, a successful launch can help your project gain the traction it needs to succeed long term.

Making Plans Productive

As a creative entrepreneur, it can be hard to feel like you are tied down by due dates and strict deadlines. Rather than thinking of a launch plan as something that is confining your creativity, look at it as a way to bring structure to that creative process so that nothing gets lost or forgotten along the way. There’s a reason most artists start off their paintings with stick figures – building that structure gives you a productive framework for creativity.

The trick is to create your launch plan up front, scheduling out day to day tasks so that you are not wasting time each day determining what needs to be done or who is responsible for doing it.

Establishing a detailed plan allows you the freedom to focus on your ingenuity. When you aren’t wasting time going in circles or putting out fires, you can focus on ideas that inspire you, giving your project the energy it deserves. 

Your launch plan should be a plan of action with clear and concise steps that can be executed to achieve an ideal end goal. An effective launch plan is strategic and precise. When creating your launch plan, look at it as if you are a project manager and make sure to evaluate your launch from every angle – budget, market, product, pricing, distribution, promotion, etc. 

It is also imperative that you clearly delegate tasks to your team, so that every single “to-do” is assigned to one specific person. This way, if something isn’t completed correctly or on time, it is clear who is responsible for that, and you are able to address the issue and correct it immediately. Oftentimes, projects are derailed because a small issue went unnoticed or unattended, and it has a ripple effect on the entire project.

What starts as a very small problem can quickly grow if left unchecked. It can be easy to shrug off seemingly unimportant issues with the attitude that you have bigger tasks to handle, however, it is imperative that all problems are addressed as they arise. 

If you don’t make a priority of solving issues as they come, what started as a small problem can quickly snowball into an expensive and time consuming issue. Accountability can help stop those little problems from snowballing before one becomes an avalanche and creates catastrophic damage.

Building Your Launch Plan

When creating your plan, start with your big picture, and then break that down into smaller steps. Start with main objectives or milestones, and determine achievable timelines for completing each of them. Within those objectives and milestones, break down each and every aspect into specific tasks which can be assigned to individuals on your team. 

Once you have made a list of all objectives that need to be reached prior to launch, break those objectives into weekly and monthly goals for your team. In addition to pre-launch milestones, you also need to map out monthly goals for your first year after launch, as well as quarterly goals. Annual goals for years to come are also a great way to map out future plans.

For each task, make note of what resources are needed and any corresponding tasks that must be completed prior to the start of the next. Utilize tools to help you and your team stay on task, specifically online systems such as Trello, Asana, or Clickup. If you’re not familiar with these systems, take the time to find a solution that suits you – a board for tracking all your key tasks and progress.

These resources can help you organize a timeline, create tasks and subtasks, and assign them to different people within your company. This is also a great way for everyone to know the current status of the project without having to constantly have meetings to review redundant information. Think of your launch plan as a tool and reference guide to not only keep your project on track, but every person working on it. 

When creating your timeline and implementing due dates for specific goals, it is important to set a realistic pace. If your schedule is too fast paced, you risk having to cut corners in order to make deadlines, or missing one due date and setting the entire project off schedule. If your schedule allots too much time, you risk losing your momentum. Create a clear schedule with all deadlines and goals so that your launch plan has a timeline that is both realistic and efficient. 

Your launch plan should be comprehensive with clear direction. Timing is key, and when defining tasks and subtasks, the more details the better. Strategically outline steps so that once your plan is set into motion, everything flows smoothly and with ease. 
Launching a project is complex, but if you make sure every aspect is accounted for, you will be grateful for the structure you’ve created as you go through the process. Remember that your launch plan is not set in stone. Review and update your plan regularly, taking advantage of the discipline and habit of following a plan, while still maintaining the flexibility needed to achieve an ever-changing goal.

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