Entrepreneurs often have the mentality, "If you build it, they will come." And often they are disappointed. Just because you launch a company, you can't expect clients to be knocking down your door, begging to sign up for your service or buy your product. Building a company and generating revenue takes time. I advise new entrepreneurs that it often takes several months -- if not longer -- to win that critical first client.
So imagine my surprise when I received a note from my colleague Melissa Ford Holloway announcing she had four clients and four prospective clients in her first week of being open. How is this possible?
Here are the strategies she used in getting her business off the ground immediately.
Boost your confidence. Many new entrepreneurs are hesitant to go “all in” at first. What will their reception be in the marketplace? What if no one wants to hire them? What if everyone else has a better product or better skills?
But Holloway was able to launch with confidence -- and display that to prospective clients -- because she knew how she stacked up.
“Over the past few years at the agency where I worked for four years, I had to fix freelancers' work on several occasions. It hit me that if they are getting work at their skill level, and my skill level is higher, I had nothing to fear," she says.
Network strategically. You don’t want to wait until after you’ve launched your business to look for clients. Start planning in advance.
“A few weeks before I resigned from my last full-time job, I thought about people I've worked with in the past who have moved into senior roles,” she said. “I started booking coffees and lunches with people I could trust not to spread the word that I was on the move.”
Those people were able to provide immediate advice and referrals -- and the first day Holloway updated her LinkedIn profile, she received several inquiries.
Don’t be afraid to cold call. We’d all love to have clients begging to work with us right away, but at first, you may need to grease the wheels. Some hesitate to try cold calls, but when done well, they can be an effective option.
“I started phoning up advertising agencies to ask who I would need to meet to discuss my work as a freelancer,”Holloway said. Once she was able to connect to the right people, Holloway asked for their email address to send a short note along with her CV. And most agencies responded well to this strategy.
Related: The 3 Words Your Customers Love Most