You don’t have any clients, and all the potential clients out there don’t know who you are.
You’ve got an office, a computer and a phone, and you need to get the latter ringing. But how?
Fear not intrepid entrepreneur, and read on. Here are six tips to consider, so you go into your startup with your eyes wide open.
You’re an expert. Do what an expert does.
While we were waiting for the phone to ring, we used the lull to build our profile.
Having built our marketing experience in a range of Australian and multinational companies, we knew which marketing strategies worked and which did not.
So, we turned this knowledge into articles that we sent off to industry magazines. These articles gave tips for advertising, websites, marketing plans etc. (Yup, just like the one you’re reading now).
Since editorial is viewed as being three times more credible than advertising, people learned who we are and learned to trust us. We built our profile as experts in marketing, and as a result the phone started to ring with clients that had seen the articles and wanted our marketing help.
The best part was that it didn’t cost us anything.
You’re an expert, remember? So don’t be everything to everyone.
When you start out, it’s hard not to fall into the trap of trying to satisfy as many clients as you can. You soon end up taking on tasks or developing products to meet a small section of your client base.
Rather, than spreading yourself thin and moving away from your core skills, work out what you’re good at and what you enjoy, and concentrate on that.
Network. Network. And network some more.
We wouldn’t be in business today if it wasn’t for our early participation in organised business networking.
A networking group can be a huge financial investment when you are just starting out but, they are like having a sales team working for you.
Most of the business owners in your networking chapter want to see you succeed and will keep an eye out for new opportunities.
Attending regular networking groups also provides you with the opportunity to bounce business ideas of other business people and get support and encouragement to keep going.
Don’t be creepy, but try and hang out where your potential clients hang out.
A no-brainer. A casual conversation can lead to a phone call that leads to a contract. And, people are more likely to give business to a face that talks, than to the anonymous author of an email or the disembodied voice on the other end of a cold call.
Jacks-of-all-trades master none. Outsource.
You decided to set up your own business because you felt you were an expert at something.
However, running a business requires you to have other skills as well, such as accounting, marketing, design and more.
If you’re not an expert in these areas then, it is best to outsource to someone who is. Your business can gain from borrowing expert skills, leaving you free to build and focus on more profitable activities.
If you decide to outsource parts of your business and are paying an expert for their advice, then make sure you listen to that advice and act on it. Otherwise you are just wasting everyone’s time.
If they owe, they must pay.
We were burnt early by a ‘regular’ client.
As we developed a rapport, we let their invoices slide a little. It was a situation that ended with debt collectors.
If we had pulled them up on the lack of payments earlier, we could have avoided all that.
Don’t feel bad for stopping work or supply, if a client gets behind in their payments. We are all in business to make money, and they would do the same, trust me.
Cindy Parker combines a Bachelor of Business degree with 18 years of marketing experience to help small and medium business owners maximise their profit. Cindy has worked in the marketing departments of Australian-owned and multinational companies within the Medical, IT, Financial Services and Beauty industries. She is an consultant at Four Ps Marketing Solutions which assists small business with easy and cost-effective marketing activities including website text, PR, promotions and logical and easy-to-implement marketing advice.