Running a business is hard and there are endless distractions. Checklists are essential to measure the scope of your launch efforts and maintain your order of operations. They help with prioritization and guide you on where to focus your immediate efforts. Additionally, ChipBot (the icon on the bottom right of this blog) was built in 30 days and marketed the following 30 days using this massive checklist.
“You will most likely only implement 20% of the items but you’ll continue to refer to the checklist over time, well after your launch.
The biggest risk for early stage companies is reckless decision-making. To protect your startup and move it forward without tripping, you need to strategize, plan and prioritize.
This checklist is a short-term solution to planning and acts as a long-term advisor for your business tooling. It’s 100 actions items that you can execute or hire someone else to execute. You will most likely only implement 20% of the items but you’ll continue to refer to the checklist over time, well after your launch.
If you want to download the Excel version instead of copying from AirTable, scroll down to the bottom for instructions.
There’s a reason this is at the top of the list. Before you waste time, money, and resources on shipping your product, you need to validate the idea by selling it to someone in your network.
Imagine this situation: You launch your product, gain a bunch of traffic or downloads, then observe a massive bounce rate on your key landing pages. Selling to one person early on allows you to obtain early data on buy signals and distracting noise.
What you’ll quickly find out is that your first sale will not come easy. The journey to reliable sales will require a few discussions before figuring out who is your customer and what problem of theirs you are solving
For example, with ChipBot, I learned that Crowdsource FAQ resonated more than talking about User Data. My team gathered that data through cold selling and then updated our messaging across all the channels we have.
Should you even care about what your competitors are doing while you work on your tiny startup?
Yes, and here’s why. You need clues on how your competitors are attracting customers, so you can mimic their strategy.
At the beginning of your startup, you are in the middle of a forest with no reliable path out. One key tactic is to mimic competitors on messaging, key offerings, delivery, and consistency. You won’t be able to match everything on quality or speed but you can pick some traits and focus on them better than your competition.
If your competitors have been around for a while, trust that they have spent a lot of time researching what does and does not work. By now, they are focusing on what they’ve found to be successful.
Using your competitors as a guide will help you persuade customers to your (better) solution by using similar verbiage and highlighting your key differentiators. It helps start the conversation before you start speaking a different language.
Whether you’re about to launch in a few weeks or you already have an MVP for the past couple months, have a list of reliable beta testers. You’re not going to have the resources to have a dedicated quality assurance (QA) resource to check your work all the time. Additionally, you’ll be moving so fast, bugs or defects are bound to happen.
Mitigate this by recruiting 10 of your most trusted or dedicated users, and ask them to test features. Listen to them carefully and also ask for suggestions along the way. Take criticism as a grain of salt and fix defects fast.
Not only will they give you valuable feedback, but if you continue staying engaged with them and listening to their feature requests, you’ll also convert these beta testers into brand advocates (aka superfans).
You’re going to be copying and pasting what your product is or a company bio many times over. I send ChipBot’s bio in emails, on social media bios, in guest blogs, or on review sites like Trustpilot.
The last thing you want to be doing post-launch is rewriting the same content over and over. Or copying one type of bio that doesn’t specifically work for all audiences.
Creating these descriptions allows you to move faster and helps refine your pitch at the same time.
Consistency is key for your inbound marketing strategy. Since you can’t outspend your competition, your primary goal is to out-teach them. However, it’s easier said than done when tasked to execute content generation for the next 6 months.
Creating content ahead of time makes it easy to plan on topics and sets deadlines for your content deliverables. I use the content calendar as a way to batch all my content for the following week, so I can work on product updates, customer support, and promotion.
I can’t stress this one enough. When you run a business, you’re going to be writing all the time. Either for marketing material, emails, investor pitch deck, or on social media, you want to ensure you have a second pair of eyes reading through your content.
Typos and grammar mistakes are a surefire way to destroy your credibility no matter who your audience is.
Additionally, always try to find one or two people that you can ask to peer review your long-form content, like a blog or product description.
I’ll be honest, this is a shameless plug, but there’s real value here that you’ll want for your launch.
Your number one goal, at launch, is to collect feedback about your product or company. ChipBot collects unsolicited questions while providing support to your users, using those very same questions. It’s the only Crowdsource FAQ bot that observes what people ask and leads to clues on your signal/noise ratio in the beginning.
I’ve been using ChipBot to improve ChipBot since launch and 90% of my ideas came from questions users asked or typed in the search bar.
Are there other tools out there you can use? Of course. I know a lot of users who just use their GoDaddy hosting account or sign up on various different services to create a business stack, like Gmail + DropBox + Teamup.
To reduce friction, and start focusing on the remaining items on the checklist, sign up for an account on Google and let them figure out all the necessary business foundational tooling. Not only does Google have a better track record on integrations for external services, but they are also constantly improving their offering. This means more features for you and less time you need to focus on updating that 3-tiered business stack.
This seems comical at first but having a place to prototype your ideas is essential to iteration. Every time I have an idea for ChipBot, I write it on my whiteboard. Anytime I have a complex problem, I diagram it on the whiteboard. Having a dedicated drawing board to iterate on ideas is critical for delivery, from concept to production!
You can view and clone the checklist directly on AirTable. You can also download the Excel version of the checklist through AirTable’s CSV functionality. See below.
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know in the comments below. Our goal is to continuously refine this checklist so every maker and entrepreneur has an accessible and valuable asset in their toolbelt. We need your help to get us there, so please provide any criticism or let us know what worked for you.
Matt is a Chicago-based entrepreneur with over a decade of experience building highly scalable web-based technology solutions. Knowledgable in 12 different programming languages and experienced startup veteran; having worked on 6 others. He's currently the founder and CEO of ChipBot. You can reach Matt on Twitter, LinkedIn, or StackOverflow.