First things first: How to get your first customers

One of the most exciting moments you can have when starting a business is signing up your first client, making your first sale, and banking the payment on your first invoice. These tips will help you find and close your first customer.

One of the key points to remember is focus. If you’re doing it right, you will have spent a lot of time getting ready to launch your business: you will have done research, talked to potential customers, and have your value proposition and business model sorted out.

However, one mistake many business owners make is trying to go too broad or too dispersed with their marketing and promotion from the outset. They end up spending too much money before they even get the business rolling. There’s nothing wrong with letting people know you exist, but first you have to sell your product or service to one customer — and then another, and then another.

Start focused, start small, think one customer at a time for a few weeks or months. Make sure you deliver amazing service and value to each of these initial customers, and work out the bugs in your delivery of service.

A great place to start with any business is to make a mind map of everyone you know, sorting people into categories of those who are your target audience and might support you, those who could be suppliers, those could refer you, and so on.

Start with people you know or who know you, and pitch them your product and service. Ensure it is valued and saleable — actually sell some.

Once you do this, you’ll not only get a better return on your investment of time and money, and be more focused, but you’ll also find out what does and doesn’t work in your business nice and early. It will establish you and give you confidence.

Another quick tip is that you can sell a product or service before you’ve even developed it. If you are able to communicate the concept of your business, you might even find in your research stage that someone wants what you are going to supply.

I’ve actually sold products in the tens of thousands of dollars before they even existed. Yes, of course I then had to develop them. I had to deliver on the promise and make sure they were valued, but having them pre-sold made investing the time and money in development a lot easier to swallow.

So don’t think about the world just yet — think about selling it to your first customer, and the next, and the next.

What strategies have worked for your business in getting the first customers?

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