Launch now, adjust later: A good approach or a future headache?
Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard the phrase, “perfect is the enemy of good”. Chances are, everyone is waving their virtual hands right now. By and large, the business world has long understood the principle that it’s better to get started and adjust based on real-time feedback than it is to try and achieve perfection before ever introducing your business to consumers.
In fact, this approach has been celebrated over the last decade, especially with digital products and new technologies. Phrases like “Lean Startup” and “Minimum Viable Product” and “Just Ship It” were completely overlooked concepts just a few years ago. Now, not only are they common phrases, but also commonly accepted, and expected, best practices.
As business builders and technologists, we firmly believe in launching ‘experiments’ and ‘proof of concepts’ to get early feedback on what your company is offering to potential customers and sellers. It makes sense, in the right context. Cranking up your Instagram account? Whipping up a new landing page? Pre-launching your new business? Experiment all you want!
When you’re ready to actually launch your direct selling business (get customers, onboard sellers, start paying commissions, etc), you need to think about how your technology will need to serve you well beyond those first six months to a year.
Why? Because direct selling is a business where growth is often exponential. And when you’re growing rapidly, changing technology platforms mid-stream becomes a much riskier proposition.
3 things to consider when choosing a platform while launching your business
Switching platforms when your business is picking up steam may not be as easy as you think
Over the years, we’ve seen many companies locked into sub-par platforms they rushed to launch with and never dreamed they’d still be stuck with, and limited by, years later. Have you ever heard this statement in a meeting: “well, our system just can’t do that”? It’s an all-too common remark in conference rooms throughout the direct selling world. Those “agile“ systems that you launched with now struggle to keep up with even the slightest updates as you grow. And the nickel-and-diming that comes with customizing a platform just for you often doesn’t make sense.
In many situations, switching platforms doesn’t make sense, either, and can be more complicated than you think. It’s not just the technology - it’s operations, it’s time to change processes, it’s all the integrations you’ve done. Many companies make the mistake of choosing a platform at the start of their journey that can’t scale with their business, or worse, that they don’t want to scale with.
There’s also the flipside - ending up in a place where you do not see the growth you want, but your platform isn’t strong or flexible enough to let you experiment. So you get locked into a “chicken/egg“ situation: you feel you can’t invest in a change in technology until the business has more traction, but your current platform doesn’t give you what you need to get that traction. So not only are you a slave to the system; you’re also stuck with the system.
Be prepared for the technology we haven’t even heard about yet
A quick survey of online selling and social media culture makes one thing clear: the most popular methods of selling today didn’t even exist a few years ago. By that logic, it stands to reason that there will likely be many things that your salesforce will utilize in the next five years that we haven’t even imagined would become available. Therefore, when evaluating a platform to launch your business with, it’s essential to look for providers who are not simply focused on “does this platform do what we’ve always done?”. Instead, seek out those invested in creating a software environment that’s flexible enough to integrate with new technologies as they emerge. It may not be possible to predict what breakthroughs in technology we’ll see over the next few years, but choosing software that’s built on current tech capabilities and designed with robust adaptability is an investment that will pay for itself many times over.
Myth: Finding the right solution upfront means high costs and long timelines to launch
One of the biggest challenges a startup company would face in previous years is the exorbitant cost and lead time associated with an initial platform setup. Often, that cost alone was prohibitive, and the time to implement would make building any significant momentum with early adopters nearly impossible. With today’s cloud-based hosting solutions, advanced tracking capabilities, and cross-platform compatibility, the old paradigm of investing a small fortune in software that would be obsolete in 2 years and could not integrate with any other systems is a thing of the past. Well-developed platforms today cost less to implement, are designed with connected ecommerce in mind, and can be installed and configured in a fraction of the time as they were in the past.
Launching quickly and cost-effectively with cutting-edge marketplace systems isn’t a fairytale - it’s the way of the future. Businesses looking to thrive in coming years would be wise to explore their options before rushing to launch with an underdeveloped platform.
At Paragon, we root everything we do in creating the complete platform people-driven commerce. Paragon provides customized solutions to leading direct selling companies based on our extensive knowledge of the unique needs of this industry. To find out about arranging a demo for your company, visit our website at paragoncommerce.com
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