You’ve decided to start your own business and you need clients… well here’s what you should do.
I’ve received quite a few emails and phone calls from people who are just launching their business, or have been doing it on the side, but really want to go out there and get more clients for their business, but just don’t know where to start. Here’s what I’ve done and has worked for me.
1) Tell everybody what you do. Ask everyone what they do.
Most people will just assume you have a “regular normal job” like everybody else which means they don’t think you could really be of any service to them. And you might assume everyone else has a regular job and you’re the only person trying to be an entrepreneur within the network of people you talk to on a relatively consistent basis.
Don’t assume. Talk. Ask.
I made the mistake of saying nothing about what I did for a living for 2 years to someone I had bimonthly conversations with. It wasn’t until he had mentioned something he was trying to achieve with his business and I provided the exact solution.
I spoke up and told him that I do exactly that thing for other businesses just like his. He said, “Wow. I had no idea you were into that and did that stuff. That’s perfect, let’s have a meeting this week and get started.”
He’s one of my biggest repeat clients. He would have been even more valuable when I was trying to get my business up and going in the beginning. Better late than never, but doesn’t mean you should wait to speak up like I did.
Life isn’t perfect, and the pieces don’t usually fall perfectly into place like that without trying so always just throw out there what it is you do. You never know who you might be talking to.
PS. Adding what you do to your signature definitely helps. Sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised.
2) Reach out to where you shop or eat.
This is how I got my first handful of clients. I started offering web design to a retail shops and restaurants. I’m a bit of a foodie and love going out to eat at restaurants and there are quite a few where they know me well by now.
If there are any places where you would be considered a frequent shopper, client, customer where, especially in your neighbourhood, and EVEN MORE especially if they are family owned, mama papa, independently owned, you MUST let me know what you do and how you can help them next time you are in there.
I got 4 reputable restaurants, an optical shop, a jeweller, and a gas guy all within a couple months by simply letting them know what I do next time I was in there.
There’s no better client than a client who sees you as a customer of their own as well. If you shop at your client’s business, it shows you believe in their business. Obviously, clients like that.
3) Search hashtags
Searching hashtags related to what you do, specifically on Twitter, will help lead you to people searching for something you’re offering, or people in the business of your target audience.
Take some time to use Twitter’s search. At the very least you’ll get in touch with some people who may be able to help you. I’ve gotten a few copywriting gigs this way.
4) Search Craigslist and Kijiji.
Sounds archaic right? Searching through online classified listings.
Well depending on the industry you are targeting, especially the trades (i.e., plumbing, carpet cleaning, electrician, landscaping etc), Craigslist and Kijiji may be the only form of “online marketing” these businesses are using, which means they probably don’t know what their doing “online” and will be in dire need of your help.
Look through the Wanted categories, and then any other category related to your targeted audience. Email them, or send them a text; they’ll be more likely to respond to a texted. I’ve tested it. .
5) Facebook Ads.
You may have heard of these (hopefully you have). Facebook Ads right now are cheap, effective, and great for targeting exactly who you think would be your “ideal client”. But they won’t stay this way.
Facebook Ads are great if you really have a grasp on who you think would be most interested in your services. You can then target that audience in Facebook with ads specific to that group. Be sure to have your website and call to action set up before doing this. You don’t want to be wasting marketing dollars.
Notice how I’m talking about Facebook Ads, NOT Google Ads.
Google Adwords has become expensive, saturated, competitive, and just not as effective like it used to be. This is why I simply don’t suggest Google Adwords to businesses just starting out (specifically with tighter advertising budgets).
This is an online community, network, platform where freelancers and busineses offer a wide range of different services starting at $5. How can this help you?
Setting up a gig on Fiverr can be a way of allowing people to “try out” or “trial” what you ave to offer for as little as $5. If they like what they get, they will be more likely to purchase your full services.
I wrote about how you can do this and how your business can benefit from using Fiverr here.
7) Facebook Groups and Communities
This is huge. It truly is. There can sometimes be nothing more valuable to your business (especially when it’s just starting out) by being involved and engaged with a community of people who are a little bit, or a lot, further than you are.
I have received lots of great advice, traffic, recomendations, free resources, feedback, and support from the Facebook group I’m in.
But it’s not just about take take take. You can’t just creep the group, then ask for help, or share a post and expect people to care if you haven’t contributed in some way yourself.
Go through what everyone is posting and if someone is asking a question you ave the answer to, answer it. If someone is asking for an opinion, give it. It’s a great way to network, to get potential leads, and get more people aware what your skills and what you have to offer.
8) Never underestimate any conversation you have with anyone, anywhere, at any given time.
This is SO important, I CANNOT stress this enough, and you’ll find out why I am so adamant about this.
I will be honest and say I’ve have been guilty of this many times before and I now try harder than ever to always get something out of every conversation I have.
This doesn’t mean you look at every conversation you have with everyone as a business opportunity or sales pitch. Don’t be that guy. It’s annoying and will turn everyone off.
What I mean is you should always be in 110% mode when talking to people because you never know where that might go, how they might help you, or who they might know.
In a nutshell: be the best version of yourself, always. Never be less than what you are capable of doing in front of anyone. Keep that up and it will cripple any opportunity you had any chance of getting.
I believe this to be the most important tip of them all because it is the reason why my company exists as it does today.
In fact, to illustrate this more, my next post will be the story of how a single tweet became the catapult of my business and entrepreneurial career.
You’ll want to read that one once posted.
So to recap:
- Tell everybody what you do. Ask everyone what they do.
- Reach out to where you shop or eat.
- Search hashtags
- Search Craigslist and Kijiji.
- Facebook Ads
- Facebook Groups and Communities
- Never underestimate any conversation you have with anyone, anywhere, at any given time.