Starting a business is a huge undertaking, terrifying, thrilling, and risky as heck. Though it does seem terrifying at first, the truth is like all things in life, it is something one learns by doing, making some missteps across the way and learning from them.
Most people have worked for a corporate or a not-so-corporate environment in their careers. There are many issues you, as an employee of a firm, might have faced in the course of your working days. You might have dealt with insensitive bosses and may have got the feeling that your efforts and time are not appreciated. Like most employees, this thinking remains day in and out as you slave away in front of their cubicle.
Until suddenly, you decide it’s time you took matters into your own hands and go into a business for yourself. In short, you want to become an entrepreneur. You want to love what you do and you want to rake in the big money after a lot of hard work and efforts have paid off.
1. Start Small and Start at Home: Tell Your Friends and Family
An important, and seemingly the most obvious, way of landing your first client is to just tell your family and friends about your up-and-coming business. Ideally, one of them will alert you that your offered product or service is exactly what they had been looking for, and you can land your first client this way rather easily. But even if none of them are currently in the market for what you are offering, they are likely to tell their network of friends, acquaintances, and/or coworkers about you. A plus about this method is also that because these people are in your close social network, they will likely give you a glowing recommendation to others.
Family and friends can expand the scope of your business by sharing your launch with their contacts. These contacts can then call their contacts. A snowball or cascading effect can then occur, putting your business on the map for potential clients. A rule of thumb though, it’s always prudent to remember they are your friends and family and are not paid (generally speaking) to promote your firm.
2. Join Facebook Groups
Joining and becoming active in Facebook groups is not only a great way to market yourself and your business, but it can also land you clients. It is easy to simply search for your desired keyword-or, what your business offers- in Facebook’s search function, and groups matching this phrase will populate.
Once admitted to these types of groups, it would be advantageous to converse with others about the topic, and to promote your website. For example, if you are trying to market a photo editing service, it would be beneficial to search and join groups of people who are looking for their personal photos to be edited.
Once in these groups, not only can you link to your page and include finished pictures of finished products to showcase your ability, but you can also comment on others’ posts to answer their questions or concerns about editing in general.
This approach works because it is a more targeted way to engage with potential customers, especially if the groups you belong to are relatively small. Since these people are likely to see your posts and comments-as opposed to in larger groups where posts can get lost in the mix, they are more likely to look out for your input in the future, which can eventually lead to building relationships and in turn, sales.
3 Build a Portfolio by Offering Probono Work
Entrepreneurs don’t like to lose money but most do. We tend to have a fear of putting so much work into our venture and finding out that no one will pay for it. The mistake is made when an entrepreneur wants top dollar for a product or service that hasn’t even been proven to be worth the asking price. Or worse, has no demand.
Build a portfolio, recommendations, and reviews, by giving away your product or service for free until you create a buzz. The client that you provide a free or hugely discounted version of what you have to offer will not have the demands of a paying customer so you have the freedom to see what you can do.
4. Be Very Active on Social Media
Being active on social media, including posting regular photos, status updates, and commenting back to customer remarks and inquiries timely, is a must in the world we live in today. With social media platforms projected to have over 4.4 billion active users per month by 2025, it would be silly to not tap into this exceptional avenue in which to communicate directly with potential clients.
Also, keeping your social media pages active shows to potential clients that the business cares about staying in touch with their consumers, and potential consumers. Setting up social media profiles on the most used platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, will provide a spot where you can promote your products, inform of prices and sales going on, and reply to any inquiries or concerns that people may have.
5. Ask for Referrals
Asking for referrals is an important way to ensure that people know about you and your business. Referrals work because people are about four times more likely to buy a product or service when they are referred to it by someone they know and trust, and 92% of people trust referrals when they are made by people they know.
People who you should ask for referrals could include past employers, past satisfied clients, people who you have met and spoken with at networking events, or any contacts you have at local businesses, places you have volunteered at, etc. As previously mentioned, family members and friends could also be great for referring you to others. The important thing is to try to get your name out to as many people as possible.
6. Optimize Your Website
Your business website should be well-designed, easy to navigate, and up to date. It should also include your company’s values, as well as what exactly it is you offer-and why the customer should pick you for their needs, as opposed to your competition. Images and videos should be clear and high definition, and every written word on the page should also be spelled correctly and grammatically correct.
Your website is also a great place to promote specials, promotions, or bundle deals for your product or service-when people see a nice deal for them laid out, they are more enticed to go through with buying. Lastly, if you have any reviews from customers about your product or service at this stage, you should include these on your website. This is because people tend to trust the reviews of others before purchasing for themselves, and showcasing reviews could be just what is needed for someone perusing your site to take the plunge and buy from you.
7. Contact Colleagues from Your Previous Work
They say entrepreneurs should have great interpersonal skills and nothing says that as much as having the confidence and trust of your work colleagues. If you haven’t burnt bridges with your colleagues, nothing could prove to be better than the professional contacts and expertise that industry people get you.
Colleagues can come in handy when you’re looking for a client for your business. Since they are a part of the professional world, these referrals have a higher success rate generally. The credibility and reputation of your co-workers can help you gain clients because you already have people vouching for you. Even if you don’t get any clients at the initial stage, you can always come back later when you have proven yourself with a few clients, letting your track record speak for you.
Starting a business is no cakewalk. But with the right focus and the right interpersonal skills, bagging your first clients quickly is very possible. Though you may not rake in the millions in the initial launch period, with time, when you have established yourself in the market, you can look forward to building a pipeline of customers and clients ready to give you their business.