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Start Up By... Starting

How to start a consumer product brand

People ask us all the time: how do you start a startup? Like, really, how do you start a business, step by step? There's an idea that starting a business requires a magical idea, gorgeous brand work, brilliant product development, and a deeply engaged community. Here's the thing: all of that stuff is really, really useful. But at the end of the day, businesses get off the ground through one simple factor: work.

Here at the HQ, we have created, built, launched, scaled, and transformed over 60 consumer brands since we launched almost 5 years ago. While every brand we've partnered with - from the fashion innovators to the beauty brainiacs, from the wellness whizzes to the food-and-beverage aficionados - had its own unique vibe, goals, and challenges, every single one of these businesses lived by the ability of its founder(s) to execute, every damn day.

So without further ado: I've decided that I'm going to spend 2023, little by little, sharing the playbooks we've built over the last five years. You're gonna experience a litany of lists and tasks and to-dos, but you're also going to start getting some (ahem, IMO) pretty stellar guidance on how to start a consumer product brand.

We're starting things off with the pre-launch activities required to start a consumer product brand. I'll link things in as I populate, so that you have this handy playbook to kickstart that momentum. (Oh, and if you see anything glaring that we're missing, shoot us a note or a comment - we'll revise as it makes sense.)

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So... before you get things going with an actual in-market situation, there's some critical admin you're going to need to kick off. And, for me, everything starts with a good old fashioned workback - set some dates, define your dependencies, and let's get rolling.

The Self Assessment

  1. The Not Sexy Stuff About Entrepreneurship
  2. Getting Your Head Around Your Why

Pre-Launch: General for Startups

  1. The World's Most Efficient Business Naming + Name Search Process
  2. Registering Your Business
  3. Business Design Framework

Pre-Launch: Product + Ops for Startups

  1. Product Development
  2. Product Sourcing
  3. Financing Your First Run of Inventory
  4. FInding a Good 3PL
  5. Demand Planning

Pre-Launch: Sales for Startups

  1. Determination of Channels
  2. Revenue Strategy x Channel
  3. Retail Pitch Decks
  4. Lead Generation
  5. Finding Distributor Partners
  6. DTC Strategy
  7. Amazon Strategy

Pre-Launch: Finance for Startups

  1. Revenue Channel Forecast
  2. P&L Forecast
  3. Investor Pitch Decks
  4. Raising a Friends and Family Round
  5. Raising a Seed Round 
  6. Alternative Means of Generating Startup Capital
  7. Accounting System Setup

Pre-Launch: Legal for Startups

  1. Incorporating a Business
  2. Applying for a Trademark
  3. Applying for a Patent
  4. Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Pre-Launch: Brand for Startups

  1. Business Design: Determining Your What // How // Why
  2. Analyzing the Competitive Landscape
  3. Defining Your Customer Personas
  4. Staging Your Brand Messaging
  5. Refining Your Boilerplates
  6. Developing Your Identity
  7. Selecting Your Colour Palette
  8. Creating Your Social Moodboards

Pre-Launch: Go-to-Market Strategy for Startups

  1. Domain Acquisition
  2. Set Up Team Emails
  3. Google Analytics Setup
  4. Klaviyo Setup
  5. Landing Page Setup
  6. Teaser Content Development
  7. Social Channel Setups
  8. Content Calendar Development
  9. Hashtag Strategy
  10. Organic Boosting Strategy
  11. Paid Strategy

Startup Year One: Finance for Startups

  1. Why Contribution Margin is a Critical Metric to Startup Founders
  2. Why Budget Variance Tracking Matters to Startup Founders

Startup Year One: Marketing for Startups

  1. How Startups Can Measure Brand Awareness
  2. Affiliate Marketing 101 for Startups

So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself an Asana board going and let's build.

Jacquelyn Corbett, MBA

Brand builder, brady buncher, mathemagician. Fractional CMO, educator, trainer. Feminist AF. 25 years in startup mode.


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