If you’re launching a new marketplace, an important question is when to launch; as soon as possible, resolving issues as they arise, or after you’ve had time to consider and mitigate every risk? While there are pros and cons to both, and both approaches can be successful, we believe the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle.
Launching Early – Pros and Cons
Some business owners dive into their marketplace launch almost immediately without regret, while others launch too soon, causing catastrophic damage to their reputation. Although launching early poses a few risks, there are benefits to this approach. An early launch allows you to get real feedback from real customers and focus your time and effort on improving the aspects that matter most. Additionally, it allows you to start generating income earlier in the game, and founders know all too well how important and much needed that initial cash flow can be.
However, when it comes to an early launch, we believe the cons outweigh the pros. Launching early means you’re incurring operating expenses early, too, so ensuring you’ve mastered your marketing before your launch is a must to ensure the revenue surpasses the expenses. Perhaps the most impactful downside of an early launch is introducing your products to the marketplace before you’re ready. First impressions are critical in business and many clients will never give you the opportunity to earn back their business. If you do choose to launch early, you can mitigate the risk of catastrophe by qualifying your vendors in advance and choosing a trustworthy marketplace platform with positive online reviews.
Related: Beat the 4 Biggest Hurdles of A Marketplace Platform
The Good and Bad of Waiting for the Stars to Align
Many of our clients approach their marketplace launch from one extreme or the other – they’re either so eager to launch that they’re willing to do it before they’ve planned adequately or they delay the launch until the stars align. This might mean they have a business plan in place, a team of employees big enough to support Amazon itself, a brick and mortar storefront, or a marketing director poached from Verizon Wireless. Whatever it means, waiting for the stars to align comes with both good and bad.
The primary reason to wait is to protect your reputation; take the time you need to write a business plan, qualify your vendors, test your marketplace, conduct industry research, and get the right team on board. This does not ensure but does improve your chances of a successful launch and a great first impression for clients.
The downside of waiting for the stars to align is that any experienced businessperson will be quick to share that the stars don’t align in business; there is always room for improvement, advancement, growth, learning, and even failure. We liken it to couples who wait until the stars align to have children…perhaps they’ll know it’s time when they have their mortgage paid off, enough in savings for a college education, they’ve done everything on their bucket list, and they’ve reached the highest level in their careers and are ready to retire and stay home with baby. Many of these couples end up having children only because of what must be divine intervention that tips their careful plans on their sides.
The Solution – Settle in the Middle
The best time to launch your marketplace is somewhere in the middle. Choose three non-negotiables such as 1) you must have a business plan, 2) you must have capital, and 3) you must have launched your marketing campaign x weeks prior to launch. As long as you’ve adequately prepared for launch, you can introduce your marketplace to the public, learn from their early experiences, and start generating revenue without compromising your reputation or potential for success in the future. Mitigate risk by choosing a well-known and trusted marketplace platform who can help you plan for the unexpected.
Related: 4 Tips to Increase Marketplace Leads