How Long Does it Take from Startup Idea to Business Launch?

Find out how long it can take to make your business idea into a reality.

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Hello, my fellow entrepreneur. You are wondering how long it should take from your initial startup idea to the business launch.

This is vital information to know to properly plan and schedule your launch preparation. You need to know how long each task will take, so you can decide in which order to perform each task. I have compiled this new business schedule based on actual small business clients.

Fast Fact:

Typically it takes a startup business 6 months to one year from initial idea to product launch and their first paying customers. Service businesses can be launched in 3 months, online businesses in 30 days and retail stores, restaurants, and clothing lines commonly take one year from conception to launch.

Keep reading to learn more about how long each type of business takes from concept to revenue.

Launch Time By Business Type

Clothing Line – Takes 12+ months to launch

The average clothing line takes approximately 1 to 1/2 half years from concept to market launch.

It is important that you also take into consideration the fashion market schedule. There are specific dates when retail buyers typically will place orders when merchandise is shipped and placed on the retail floor.  Here are the dates of seasons Spring and Fall.  

Here are the steps needed to take to produce and sell a clothing line and the time you should allow for each in your startup schedule.

  • Fabric sourcing – Three weeks to three months. This is dependent upon the number of samples required and the types of fabric you select. If you source material locally you can cut some time off of this schedule. However, know that international fabrics will add considerable time to your schedule.
  • Sample development – 4 to 6 months. Time is dependent upon the number of items in your collection and their complexity.  Remember the sample development process may have many rounds of draping, sample sewing, pattern making, fittings, and revisions.Plus schedules go beyond deadlines since they are only an estimate and often unforeseen obstacles arise. Allow ample time for this phase otherwise you could incur additional rush charges from your sewing factory.
  • Apparel production – 4 to 6 months. This does not mean that the actual sewing of your garments are going to take six months. Production is a process that includes ordering fabric and trims,  pattern digitization, size grading, setting cutting schedules, sewing, packing and shipping. Plus you need to allow for getting your job booked into the garment factory production schedule.
  • Brand development & Legal Formation – 2 months. Logo creation, trademark and business formation to LLC or INC can take many months.
  • Business Logistics – 2 months.  Allow 60 days to fully set up your accounting software, bank accounts and office space.
  • Website Design – 3-4 months.  While it will usually not take months for your designer to build your site, it will take months to hire a designer, get samples,  make revisions, write content, film videos, schedule photo shoots, upload photos and add product listings to your site.
  • Social media profiles – 6 months.  You can get all of your social profiles set up at once by Knowem. This professional service is one I use for all my clients.  I recommend you set up your social account early to build up a following over 6 months. Start posting before you launch to build anticipation and grow your followers.

Retail Store -Takes 6 months to Open

Typically it will take a minimum of six months to open a retail store. Here are each of the steps and the amount of time each should be allowed.

  • Find a good location – 1-2 months
  • Negotiate the lease – 1-2 months
  • Hire a store designer to create store layout – 1 month
  • Legal business formation – 1 month
  • Apply for business & construction permits – 2-3 months
  • Set up business bank account and accounting software – 1 month
  • Branding, logo design, advertising and marketing strategy – 2-3 months
  • Website development and social media accounts – 3 months
  • Construction of store interior – 1- 3 months
  • Purchasing and install store fixtures, shelves and racks – 2 months
  • Researching merchandise and ordering – 3 months
  • Receiving inventory – 2 months
  • Set up store with inventory – 1 month
  • Start advertising campaign – 1 month
  • Stage grand opening event – OPEN!

Online Store – Takes 4 months to Launch

It will take approximately four months to get your online ecommerce store to be designed, software installed, product listings entered, photo shoots completed and images uploaded to get results of decent sales in 6+ months.

Restaurant – Takes 6-12 months to open

If you’re planning to open a sit-down dining establishment schedule at least 6 -12 months from restaurant concept ideas to your grand opening.  But if you’re opening a more casual restaurant with counter take out, then you could open in as little as 2-3 months.

This all assumes that you have all your permits lined up which depending upon your locality and location chosen could take up to six months or more.

  • Define restaurant concept – 2 months
  • Research local requirements for permits and licenses – 2 months
  • Find a good location and negotiate lease – 2-3 months
  • Hire an architect for restaurant design – 2 months
  • Plan and purchase equipment – 2 months
  • Apply for a health permit – 1-4 month
  • Apply for a building permit – 1-2 months
  • Construction – 4-6 months
  • Hire and train staff – 1 month

TOTAL TIME 6-12 months

Build an App – 2 – 10 weeks

The amount of time to launch an app is all dependent upon the complexity of the app and its features.

To build a simple small app with basic features such as login, password forgot, news feeds and sharing photos will take 2-4 weeks development time.

Medium to large apps with advanced features such as capture video, push notifications, messaging, social sharing and multiple language capabilities will take from 4-10 weeks from idea to product launch.

Here is more detailed info on the length of development time for different app features.

Timeline Schedule – Idea to Launch

To effectively plan your launch use a timeline schedule like this:

Tasks to Perform: 12 months – 6 months ahead of launch

Start working on these things that need to be done first a) since they take the longest and b) they are needed to complete other tasks.

  • Industry market research
  • Competitive analysis
  • Brand & Logo development
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Website domain purchase
  • Bank financing
  • Location scouting & lease negotiations
  • Permit applications for brick and mortar
  • Legal business formation – LLC, INC and DBA

Tasks to Perform: 4- 6 months ahead of launch 

  • Advertising campaign design and planning
  • Merchandise sourcing and purchasing
  • Store and restaurant layout design
  • Construction
  • Website development and launch
  • Social media accounts – open and begin posting

Tasks to Perform: 2-4 months ahead of launch 

  • Implementation of marketing plan
  • Buy ad space
  • Sales calls and presentations
  • Manufacturing
  • Hire and train employees
  • Receive goods and set up store

Launch Day 

  • Start advertising
  • Make e-commerce site live
  • Stage grand opening event
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