Starting your own business is exciting but at the same time it can be nerve-wracking. Your road to success starts with your first customer. Landing your first customer will require a mix of strategies (offline) and plenty of time behind the computer building your brand online. These are eight different stories of how some successful entrepreneurs found their first customers.
1. Getting our first customer was TOUGH. It took us three months, and our first client was only worth $60, and we couldn’t even fulfill the order when we started due to the client’s request being outside of our scope. Despite how much effort that took, it was beyond worth it because we weren’t trying to get a client; we were trying to set up a method to acquire clients. Four years later, we’ve had over 2,000 clients from 47 countries. When we started, we didn’t have any money to spend on marketing. We decided SEO was the best way to start the flow of potential clients.
Every day, we’d guest blog. I probably wrote 50-80 posts over the first three months, all offering useful information for free on other blogs and hoping people would share our content and site within their spheres of influence. As we guest blogged, our site rose in the ranks and, eventually, we ranked in the top 3 on Google for the phrase “proofreading services.” We started getting leads and started learning how to better fulfill our clients’ orders. The rest is history. We’re doing very well now, but only because we put in all that work to get the very first client.
– Luke Palder, Founder and CEO of ProofreadingServices.com
2. Never burn a bridge! My first three clients were my three most recent employers. I kept great relationships with them all and when I went out on my own, it was very natural to approach them first.
– Bill Balderaz, President of Fathom Columbus
3. We focus on providing attorneys with highly qualified expert witnesses. When our CEO started the company, he approached his first clients through an interesting and surprising path. He called every attorney and law firm with a TV commercial campaign. And it worked!! The first attorney who took his call was excited and pleased that his advertising was working. The two discussed the benefits and value of TV advertising and our CEO utilized the opportunity to talk to the attorney about expert witnesses in litigation. The attorney had a trial coming up and decided to try our service. With his growing customer base, he utilized our service again and again. He is a great client to this day.
– Inna Kraner, Esq., Managing Editor of The Expert Institute
4. GRACESHIP’s first customer actually came from Facebook. I had been posting about the evolution of the company as it happened – I posted about the process of designing the bags, my travels to China to find a warehouse, and all of the interesting things that happened along the way. I think this created interest in more than the product – the customer could see the process and the passion behind the bags, and when the line was ready for sale, my followers were ready to buy! The process of finding and interacting with customers has evolved since then, but social media is still an important part of that process.
– Emily Gimmel, Owner of TheGraceShip.com
5. I was facilitating a leadership initiative at a Fortune 100 company, and at the end of a session, the head of HR approached me saying, “You seem to be good with people and we have an executive team that’s a disaster. I’d like you to see what you can do to help them function better. And don’t worry if you can’t make a difference, they can’t get any worse.” That was both the start of my long and rewarding coaching career, and two years with that team during their impressive evolution.
– Marian Thier, Founder of ListeningImpact.com
6. I got my first customer/client by getting fired from my last job. One of my previous employers clients found out I left the company, and decided to come on board with me and discontinue recurring work with my previous employer. They were a sizable account and left my new company immediately flush with cash – on top of the start-up capital. People say that ALL successful businesses have to have at least a little bit of luck to survive. I’ve experienced this thought process and say that it’s absolutely true.
– Jared Carrizales, CEO of Heroic Search
7. I found my first client by attending a networking group. I was able to network with other small business owners and market our products and services at the same time. As a result, the head of the group who happened to be a CPA started using our services for himself and all of his clients.
– Nellie Akalp, CEO of Corpnet.com
8. We specialize primarily in the beauty and lifestyle industries, so that helped me to specifically target potential new clients. I found my first client on Instagram while conducting a search using beauty-specific hashtags. From there, I reached out, scheduled a meeting, and was able to sign the client soon after.
– Shari Myles, President of Polished Publicity
Originally shared on businessbolts.com
Image courtesy, Benefit of Hindsight (Flickr)