Working out how to get clients is an essential part of learning how to start a business. And then after getting your first few new clients, you need to work out how to get more clients! So, you need a repeatable process. It’s kinda like add water and stir…
So in this ultimate guide on how to get new clients, we’ll cover 6 key steps you need to take as you earn how to start a business successfully.
Because without knowing how to get those pesky new clients easily, you’ll never get off the ground.
So here are the 6 steps in my ultimate guide to finding new clients:
1. Decide what services you are going to offer
This is an essential part of your planning on how to start your business in the first place. Without having a very clear idea of the services you intend to offer, it will be almost impossible to figure out how to get clients.
Now this might seem so bloody obvious that it doesn’t need to be stated, but let me assure you that well-funded start-up companies that were the darlings of investors crashed and burned.
Because they had only a vague idea of what they were offering, and absolutely no clue on how to actually start business… much less find and attract new clients.
They spent the money on offices, staff, expensive shareholder meetings at fancy hotels. And died.
Here’s a little tip. Create a buyer persona which will help you take a different perspective on how to get new clients. It puts you inside the mind of your new client by asking you to identify their pain points and frustrated plans; and what they are thinking, seeing, feeling, wanting and needing.
It’s incredibly powerful and truly is the ultimate guide for making sure you offer what your potential new clients actually need.
2. Decide on a specific audience
Know who you’re targeting – be specific. It’s called niching down, and it’s super-critical when you’re figuring out how to start a business. You cannot provide all things to all people.
So write a statement like this:
“I want to sell my social media specialist skills to companies with 5-20 employees who are advertising for a full-time content manager. I will provide them with a cheaper more effective alternative as a freelancer”.
In that short statement, you have clearly defined who your new clients will be, why they will want to talk to you, and what pain points you are going to solve. THIS is how to start a business. Right here. Working out your answer to this question.
I know plenty of aspiring business owners, people just like you, who crashed and burned, because their answer to this question “who do you serve and what are their pain points” was never properly answered.
3. Start with your own network
Start your business by going back to your old business (the one you worked in, not owned, talk to people there, especially your former bosses. They hired you in the past and can speak with authority about how good you are. Their comments about you are like gold when it comes to figuring out how to get more clients.
In effect THEY were a client, so it’s easy for a prospective new to say to themselves… “Ah, her former boss said she was really good at social media management, and that the company wish her well in starting her own business. That’s good enough proof for me, I’ll talk to her.”
And also, they may want to give you a shot as a freelancer, because it costs them a lot less and they know the quality of your work. And they know how hard it is to start a business, so they want to support you.
So, make a list of people you know who own a company, or friends who might know someone who owns a company. This personal contact is invaluable.
Then send them a quick email
Here’s an example of an email to a former boss:
I want to start by saying how much of an inspiration you’ve been to me. Largely because of your confidence in me and my work, I’ve launched my own freelance content writing company.
Since I left, a few things have changed, haha! Your company blog could probably use some stronger content. As we discovered, most of the big-name companies in your industry are able to drive massive leads with good content marketing.
Would you be open to me writing a couple of posts as a trial?
Would love to catch up either way.
Here’s an example of the same email to a friend’s contact:
Denise told me that you are looking for a content manager. I’ve just set up my own content company and I’m looking for opportunities to prove myself and get my business started the right way.
I’ve done a bit of research and it seems that most of the big-name companies in your industry such as (name) and (name) have pretty good content on their sites, which will be driving massive leads.
Would you be open to me writing a couple of posts for you as a trial?
It would be great to meet you either way, as Denise speaks very highly of you!
This should get you at least one new client, even if it’s not a paying client at this stage. So one, up, five to go. You might find that you get your first four new clients just from this process!
This is a process, a journey. Rinse and repeat. Learning how to get new clients is all about finding something that works, then constantly refining and using it.
So, once you’ve talked to everyone who’s ever paid you for doing anything, ask them for a referral. Be specific as to what you can offer, what kind of industry you’re looking at and the “deal” which in this case is to provide something of value for free as a trial.
Normally I don’t advocate working for free, but if you make it clear it’s like doing a test at an interview for a job, a way of demonstrating that you reallu know what you are doing, then it’s fine.
4. Ask any professionals you know
Ask all the professionals or colleagues that you know if THEY know anyone who meets your new client criteria. You’ve heard of 6 degrees of sepearation, where everyone on the planet is connected through who they know, and through who THEY know etc? When you are working out how to start a business, pay real attention to this statement “It’s not who I know, but who THEY know”. This is how to get your first new clients and then how to keep getting more new clients.
Being specific here about what your prospective new clients look like is really critical for everyone involved.
Your friend will be embarrassed if they find someone for you that you cannot work with because there’s no skills or needs match.
Their friend will be pissed that they have been jerked around if you turn up and cannot do what they want; and you will be embarrassed too.
So be specific. Very specific. “I’m looking for new clients in the $$ fusion-style restaurant sector who have just opened and who are ready to attract lots of customers. I’ve worked in this sector before for several restaurants like this”.
Set a target of asking at least 15 people and see what they say. If you get no response have a look at your criteria. They could be so narrow that it’s unlikely that you’ll know someone who knows people in such a narrow niche.
5. Reach out to strangers.
Go on LinkedIn or Angellist or even Craigslist! and make a list of companies that operate in your niche.
Then find an email address for the founder owner or CEO of that business.
Find something specific about the person , or what they are talking about on social media, that relates to the pain points you identified in your buyer persona.
Then write them an email paying attention to two important parts:
- The subject line
- The first sentence
This is where you show the prospective new client that you know something about them because you have taken the time to research. This is NOT a cold email.
Something like this:
Subject Line: Your view on Social Media trends in 2020
I read your post in (industry group) about the trends that you see in social media for 2020. I found myself agreeing with them as someone who’s been in the industry for some years.
And then the boilerplate email after that about meeting them etc.
You will be staggered at how successful this technique is. The guy I learned it from, Barry Moroney (who owns www.leadable.io) routinely gets open rates of 80%. Now he focuses on big business and big clients, but we’ve proved this technique works for solopreneurs too.
So, wrapping it all up, the ultimate guide to getting your first 6 new clients covers these points:
- Be clear about what you are offering as a service
- Know who you are targeting
- Start with former bosses and current friends
- Offer a trial so show what you can do
- Ask EVERYONE for referrals
- Reach out cold and scale
If you want to know more about going into freelancing or starting your own business, I have an upcoming online course that will show you exactly everything you need to know. You can register to get notified when it launches here: Monetize Your Service Skills!