Once your business plan has finally netted you that loan, and you're getting ready to set up shop for real, it might be wise to stop and have a party... But not a conventional party, a Grand Opening Party—a fun, non-threatening way to introduce yourself (and your business) to neighbors, all while disseminating your marketing materials in an innocuous way. A Grand Opening Party can be the perfect opportunity for you to build networking connections, share entrepreneurial notes, explain your business plan, and meet the people with whom you will share your business community. So if you'd like to plan a Grand Opening Party, go ahead and do it! But beware: there are a few missteps that could sabotage not just the evening, but your business, so exercise care when revealing your business plan to the gathering.
The most important rule to remember is that you should not explicitly pitch your product or service at the party itself. Don't lose sight of the fact that a Grand Opening Party is as much a social outing for all involved as it is a chance to gush about your business plan or make connections that will help your company. Another faux pas is creating an invitation that contains a full-on marketing pitch like a flyer or a brochure enclosed in the envelope. You should make the invitation engaging and memorable, but the marketing component—to the extent there is one at all—should be very subtle. Also, don't go over the top on the big night; it's a party, but you'll regret it if you put a kink in your operating budget right away by splurging for a lavish setting or a menu of delicacies that you can't afford. Moderation will be fine, so long as the atmosphere is fun. Think of it as the counterpoint to slogging through tedious spreadsheets while preparing your business plan!
Another way you can make the party more memorable (and more productive) is to partner with other, existing businesses. You can try to secure co-sponsors for the night, which would give you access to their mailing lists, and likely make the Open House more diverse and vibrant. On the whole, remember that an introductory party is a great way to get your name out there no matter who your audience is. Just avoid the pitfalls and the night will be a memorable and profitable experience that will acquaint you with your neighbors, introduce you to some prospects, and move your business model a little bit closer to the lofty place you envision it.
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