When you’re just starting, it can be hard to know where to find customers for your new business. It’s one of the most common questions my students and clients both ask for help with. How do you build a business?
It can be tough in the early days to find customers, but there are some things you can do to get started.
If you’re starting from zero, you often have to start by offering your services for free in exchange for a testimonial. When you have no customer experience to show, no reviews, no testimonials, it can be tough to get started. But when you can work with people and help them get results and then share those results in the form of a testimonial or review, it helps build your credibility.
Where do you find people to help? Begin by letting people know about the business that you’re starting and who you want to help. If you have friends or family members who are your Ideal Customer, you might see if you can help them in exchange for a testimonial that you can use on your website and in your social media.
The people you help will likely talk to others and share your information with them. I’ve landed paying clients from referrals from people I helped for free or in exchange for a testimonial.
Sometimes when you’re building a business, you can start by offering freelance services to former employers, co-workers, or network contacts. If you’re in a field that uses freelance or contract work, you should update your LinkedIn to reflect what you’re doing and let your professional network know what you’re doing. Reach out to people you have a good relationship with who might help connect you with companies that need your type help.
When I first started my business, I did a lot of freelance work for former co-workers and old friends. My network supported me and wanted to see me succeed, and they helped me get started in the early days. You might be surprised by the work you can find within your network.
Join groups where your Ideal Customer spends time and provide useful information when people post questions that pertain to what you do. Take time and give details, explain why things work the way they do, etc. Don’t just rush to answer something quickly and leave a little detail but be thoughtful and thorough in your responses.
You’re not necessarily looking for that person to hire you, but in the future, when someone else has a question about what you do, and they search the group for keywords related to that area, your post will show up. If you’ve taken time to provide useful information that answers questions, they’ll likely reach out to you when they’re looking to hire someone. I’ve landed multiple clients simply because I responded to questions in Facebook groups. When they started searching for information, my responses popped up and had more detail and information than others.
The great thing about this strategy is it can work long-term. I’ve had people reach out to me months after I’d stopped responding to posts in a group (because I was too busy with client work yay!) and hire me because of answers I’d shared.
I’ve also had people in the groups tag me when others ask about things that I teach. When you’re a resource, people trust they’re much more likely to refer others to you.
If you’re starting and trying to figure out where to find customers, give these three strategies a try and see what happens. People can’t hire you if they don’t know what you do and who you help. Share your information with your network, become a resource in groups, and consider working with people for free if you need testimonials. Good luck, my friends!
If you're thinking about starting your own business but aren't sure where to start, request a copy of my Business Builder's Guide to get you moving in the right direction.