Finding your first paying clients is the number one thing on a new business owner’s mind and it can feel like a terrifying task, especially when no one knows who you are. The key is to spread the word about your business as quickly as possible in the places where your potential clients are most likely to be spending their time.
Here are 15 things you can do to get started
1. Reach out to family, friends and ex-Colleagues
This is one of the easiest techniques because people who know you are more likely to recommend you. Your friends, family and even ex-colleagues will want to see you succeed, so tell them about your business and ask them to share it far and wide with anyone they know.
2. Search social media for people who need your help
There are so many people on social media asking questions and seeking help with specific issues. If your business solves one of those issues then it’s just a case of reaching out and engaging and helping that person online. That interaction could lead to your first paying client. One great place to start is by doing Twitter searches for phrases like “can anyone help with xxx?” “can you recommend xxx?”.
3. Give a free talk locally
Can you do a mini training session or free talk about an element of your business at a local meetup, networking group or even your local university? There are so many groups and organisations looking for great guest speakers – start searching online and asking your local connections if they know of anyone looking and pitch an idea. It’s a great way to engage in person with your potential customers and tell people about what you do.
4. Offer drop-in sessions in a relevant location
Whilst you don’t want to give away all your expertise for free, it is a good idea to offer some support or value up front so people get a taste of what you do and can see how your business can help them. Hosting a free 10-minute drop-in session at a place your potential customers are likely to be is a really great way to attract new customers. And you get the benefit of marketing support from the venue if they’ve an audience as well.
5. Go networking
Networking groups are an incredible way of getting the word out about your business. Local meetings often involve coffee and chat with other local business owners, and sometimes the chance to ‘pitch’ your business and tell people who you are and what you do. If your potential customers go to these meetings, it’s a great place to meet them.
6. Partner with a complementary business
When you’re just starting out, it’s likely that your audience of potential customers is small. So can you partner with someone more established who is complementary to your business but has an audience already? Perhaps you could host a joint venture, or simply offer your services to their clients and customers? Think about who would be a good fit and reach out and ask. Businesses are usually looking at ways of supporting their customers and giving more value to them, so this could be the start of a great and profitable relationship.
7. List your business on online directories
There are dozens of listings directories online, which replaced the traditional ‘phone book’ and Yellow Pages. It’s usually free to submit your business as a listing, so search for relevant listing websites and get your business on them! One of the best starting places for this is Google My Business which allows you to add your business to Google and Google Maps. Most internet sessions start with a Google search, so by being on there, you’re giving yourself a much higher chance of reaching your first customers.