As a new entrepreneur, one of the first things you’ll worry about is… how do I get my first clients? After all, unless you can find clients who will pay for your services or products, you don’t have a business–you have a hobby.
Finding clients can seem overwhelming at first, and you might not know where to start. Do you need to invest in Facebook ads? Should you go to networking events? Post about your business every day on Instagram until someone bites?
Throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks is not a good strategy. But getting your first paying clients will likely be easier than you think. Here are four tips we recommend.
Know what you have to offer clients
The first rule of business is to make sure you’re delivering a stellar product or service that people actually want to buy. It’s not enough if your mom and your best friend think your idea has legs. Your potential customers need to find value in it in order to buy it.
To show the value of your product or service, you need to truly understand your ideal clients’ wants and needs and how your product fills that need. If you’re not sure who your target market is and what they need, you might try doing some market research to get more information.
Remember that people are buying the results that your product delivers, so focus on speaking to the potential results a client can get, rather than just the features of your product. For example, you might help a client save time or money or offer them access to improved health or relationships. Focus on effectively communicating the benefits that matter most to your clients.
Embrace being a beginner
Many new entrepreneurs struggle with comparisonitis: getting so caught up in watching what everyone else is doing that they forget to focus on their own work.
Here are a few ways you can avoid falling into that trap:
- Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. All entrepreneurs have to start somewhere, and just because you’re new doesn’t mean people won’t buy what you have to offer.
- Trust in your own abilities and expertise. Focus on the specific, unique contribution you provide to your customers, and you’ll feel more confident speaking with and approaching potential clients.
- Embrace the excitement you feel at the beginning. Launching a business into the world can be exhilarating, especially after all that time and effort spent toiling away in your office. Share your excitement–it’s contagious!
Take focused action to find your first paying clients
When you’re just starting out, there are tons of places to find new clients. The key is targeting the right activities that help you connect with–and eventually convert–prospective clients to customers.
Here are a few activities that can help get you started:
- Reach out to your existing network. Most new entrepreneurs forget to tap their existing network for clients. People buy from people they know, like, and trust. Your existing network is low-hanging fruit in that regard. So use social media, personal emails, and even phone calls to reach out to friends and family and let them know you’re open for business.
- Focus on making connections rather than making sales. Sales are usually the #1 goal of new business owners. It makes sense because as a business, you need to make money! But if you approach finding clients from a purely transactional perspective, you’re likely to miss key opportunities to connect and build relationships. Focus on making connections that can eventually lead to sales.
- Offer something of value upfront. Other than being able to clearly articulate the value of what you do, offering something your clients want for free is an easy way to connect. Consider how you could provide an easy win for your target market, and offer it as a freebie in exchange for their email address. You’re providing value and gaining an opportunity to stay in touch.
- Tell anyone and everyone what you do. Talk about your business and share what you’re up to wherever you go. Whether you’re in the grocery line or waiting for Starbucks, if you run into an old coworker or see an old friend, mention what you’re doing. When you get used to talking about your business, you feel more confident, and that makes sales and marketing conversations flow even more smoothly.
- Engage in activities that spark joy. Take a cue from Marie Kondo and focus on the marketing activities that spark the most joy for you. If you get energized by meeting new people, sign up for networking events. If you like to write, try guest blogging for sites with a bigger audience. Love speaking? Find opportunities to be a guest on a podcast or a speaker at a summit.
- Collaborate with a business owner who already has a following. As you start talking about your business, you’ll meet more and more business owners. Look for fellow entrepreneurs who serve the same target market but may have a larger following than yourself. Explore opportunities to partner and get the word out about your business. Ask to be interviewed on their Instagram or Facebook page or write a guest newsletter or blog post.
- Interact in Facebook groups. Love it or hate it, but Facebook offers a ton of value in the form of groups. Groups are a way to connect with potential customers and partners simply by showing up and sharing your expertise. The key is finding the right groups. Experiment by joining a few groups where your ideal clients are likely to hang out and make it a daily practice to engage in conversation in those groups.
Keep showing up
It’s easy to get caught up in the highs and lows that come naturally with starting a business. Some things will work, some won’t. The key is not to take any failures personally.
Think of finding clients like an experiment. Try many things and pay attention to what works. When you focus on what’s working, you can grow from there.
Growth comes from consistent action. After you get your first paying clients, continue to show up and do the work. Being consistent in your sales and marketing activities will lead to consistent clients and consistent income, which will grow your business.
It’ll take some time to get your first few clients, but once you find lead generation processes that work for you, getting new clients will be so much easier. What methods have you been trying to obtain new business?
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