It is always hard to launch a new site. Optimization is always the best way to go, and not just for the obvious reasons. Optimizing your pages from the start has other benefits. Your optimized pages, though they are not ranking now, make a great platform for PPC. Watching your conversions on them is important. Use this time to make sure your pages are converting well no matter how large or small your PPC budget is. This will help with your future organic conversions as well.
You can, of course, also use this time to work on your backlinks. Articles are always a good start. They're a great way to make a name for yourself and your company. Articles placed on typical articles sites are good, however, the key to gaining recognition is getting your articles on industry leading sites. Getting your articles into trade publications is a good idea as well. Use this time to work on your image and letting people know who you are. Image is everything and how you represent yourself and your company can help build your reputation and provide natural links.
Starting a blog is a must today. Start building a community. What sort of business you are in will dictate what your blog would be about. It could be on your industry's news. It could be tips, ideas or insights into what you do or offer. Blog tools such as MyBlogLog make it easier to find readers and build a community, not to mention get ideas from other bloggers.
Using social bookmarking in combination with your articles and blog posts can help increase your exposure. There's a lot of great info on the net on how to use social bookmarking to your advantage. Sites such as Digg are a great way to build traffic and links.
You can purchase reviews by other bloggers using services such as payperpost. These will allow you to pay bloggers to write about you while gaining the links you need for SEO. Finding the right bloggers is important. You want to hit readers that will be interested in what you offer with an eye on relevancy for the links you're hoping to get.
A podcast is a great way to gain exposure, build trust and help brand your business. Podcasts aren't for every industry. It will be up to you to decide if it's right for you. Having a podcast is also another way to gain natural links which will help with your SEO.
There is so much you can do while waiting for your SEO to kick in that will not only help build your company and image but will also help aid you in your SEO efforts. Many of the aforementioned items won't put a dent in your budget, though they can take up quite a bit of time. Still, most business owners just starting out have a lot more time on their hands than money.
So, don't relax while you're waiting. Get aggressive and watch you're your business and traffic grow.