It all started with a concept and now you’re here, ready to open for business. You’ve made it through what some consider to be the most challenging aspects of starting your own business. You’ve gotten startup capital, obtained licenses and permits, invested in expensive business equipment, and selected your team. Opening Day is just around the corner, and there’s still a bunch of stuff left to do. I’ve put together a checklist of finishing touches to be sure you have a successful opening day.
1. Activate a Merchant Account
Inviting the public into your business for the first time is both scary and exciting, but it will be only scary if you forget this step! Every retail store must be able to accept credit cards as more and more people are carrying less and less cash. Depending on what your business the majority of your customers may be paying with a credit card. Be sure to get your merchant account set up so that you can make a sale and accept all forms of currency, and make sure you have a card reader that reads the new EMV cards.
2. Set Up Your Social Media Accounts
You don’t want to be up and running only to find out that someone else already has your business’s name on social media. Even if you don’t start sharing content right away, claim your username on every platform you can think of: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and Snapchat. These channels, along with your website, will also be incredibly helpful with your ongoing marketing efforts. You may never use all of the accounts, but it’s best to protect your brand.
3. Plan a “Grand Opening” Event
You want to make a big deal out of opening your business, so you need to plan a grand opening event. This step is vital to seeing foot traffic on your first day of business. Your debut will set the overall tone of your business in the community, and draw people to come back. Send succinct and eye-catching postcards to every home and business in your immediate area. Highlight any “grand opening” promotions, refreshments, or extended hours, too. Don’t stop at snail mail. Get the digital version out on your personal and business social media networks and email it to all of your friends and family.
4. Market, Market, Market
Your “Grand Opening” announcement is only a small fraction of the marketing you need to be prepared to do to launch the business. You’ll need to market your business daily to get your brand to a place where it sounds familiar to those who have never visited you. Launch a media blitz to get started. Send out press releases throughout the first six months to any publication or media outlet you think might cover your business. Get up and running on your social media accounts and start blogging on your website. Use compelling content about your expertise to build rapport with prospects.
Don’t take any chances when it comes to opening your business – make sure you are prepared to tell your business story. Some of your most challenging days lie ahead, but they will be fewer if you take the right steps early on. Marketing is the engine that will drive your small business, so invest in it daily.