Get Your First Client in Three Steps as Your Own Boss
If the latest pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that more than half of us dislike our jobs.
A recent survey by EY found that 54% of those surveyed would quit their job if not offered more flexibility.
This is because, during the lockdown, we have had a glimpse of what freedom feels like. We managed to get off the hamster wheel and take a look at what really matters: friends, family, hobbies, and personal care.
If you are reading this, it’s most likely because you are looking for an alternative to your nine to five rut, the dreaded Sunday night, and the hellish commute.
Becoming your own boss is definitely the keys to all that. But how do you do it?
All you need is one client.
And to get that first client, you need the following ingredients:
- a service you can offer (and that you enjoy offering),
- a list of 10 people you can reach out to, and
- a simple webpage to build trust and communicate your offering.
That’s how I started my first business.
Let’s look at them one by one.
1. A Service You Can Offer
I am focusing on service businesses because they give you (and only you) 100% control.
If you are selling goods, you are dependent on manufacturers, logistics companies, selling platforms, and trends which makes it much more exhausting and expensive to run.
Keep it simple.
Now, most of you may think you don’t have the appropriate skills to offer a service. Wrong.
You just need to look at what you have been doing in your day job, in the community, or for your friends and family.
I have two methods to figure out what your added value is.
A. Inbox fishing
Fish for ideas in your emails.
This is a tedious task, but it will reveal a lot about what services you’ve offered (often for free) in the past.
Write those down and categorise them. About 3 to 5 activities are enough.
You will find a pattern in terms of work and people asking for that type of service. Write their names and departments (i.e. James from accounts).
The recurring ones are the activities that you want to focus on because it means that you are doing a good job at them – people come back for more!
Highlight the ones that you have fond memories of and the ones that you disliked the most.
You should end up with between one to three tasks that (i) you enjoy and (ii) that you have done on a few occasions for either the same people or at least the same department.
These will be the ones to explore to find your first client.
B. Extracurricular activities
If going through your emails hasn’t worked for you or you haven’t worked long enough in a service job, try looking at what you’ve done outside your job.
Are your friends and family coming to you for help?
Next time they do, ask why they come to you for help? They will describe your skillset and why they come back for more.
Write these down as this will be the basis of your offering and content for your website and sales material.
2. A Shortlist of Potential Clients
Where do you look for your first client?
Email 10 people who are likely to need your services or —even better— people that have customers needing your services.
You can start with friends and family. I was too shy to do it. I’d rather email strangers than ask friends for a favour, but if you have friends who could benefit from your services, go for it.
I spent hours searching for websites without terms or privacy policies. I emailed them and offered my services. It was tedious but relatively easy to do. The success rate was about 1 in 30 emails, which wasn’t too bad.
But I quickly became tired of having to do that manual work, so decided to go straight to the source. I approached website developers and asked them if their clients were asking for terms and privacy policies… They did. Bingo!
With partners on board, I started getting a continuous flow of work. And it took off.
So, here is what you need to do.
A. Define your target audience
Know who they are, where they hang out, and what pain point your service is addressing. By doing that, you’ll know where to get their details and also figure out who else is offering services to them – potential partners!
If you need a hand figuring out your exact target audience, my Magnetic Mission Statement™ worksheet shows you how to do this in 5 minutes.
For example, my perfect customers were entrepreneurs who liked wasting money on expensive website developers and hadn’t thought of terms and conditions or privacy laws.
B. Find their details
If your perfect customer is a business owner, there will be an association of some sort for their industry. These associations always have a directory you can access.
Just Google your “target market” (i.e. surveyors, architects, builders, etc.) plus “association,” “institute,” “federation,” or “guild,” and you’ll strike gold.
If, on the other hand, your perfect customer is an individual who has a certain condition, addiction, or enjoys certain games, shows, etc. you will need to figure out what they are reading, and where they hang out online.
Figure out what questions they ask Google, and you’ll figure out where they find their answers.
Once you find where they are, start communicating with them. You will find hundreds of forums, chats, Quora questions, Facebook groups, etc.
Start delivering value and make yourself known. Be helpful.
Soon enough, you’ll get a private message from your potential first client, and you can offer your services for a fee.
Some of my customers have followed this advice and managed to get their first client within a week.
3. A Website They Can Visit
A business without a website is like a shop without a front. It won’t get you many customers.
But, don’t waste money on a fancy website. Not at this stage anyway.
Do this instead:
- Sign up for a website builder that offers website hosting as part of the package. It’s easier and cheaper. Free website builders are great, but they won’t come with anything useful, so I recommend paying for something every month for a few months so you have something solid.
Unless you are a developer, I wouldn’t suggest WordPress because you’ll still be working on your site 12 months from now.
- Choose a template that was developed for your service – coaching, consultancy and other professional services, and fill in the blanks. These templates are developed by professionals who know how to convert visitors into customers. Therefore, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.
- Insert a few pictures of you – these don’t need to be taken by a professional photographer either. Also, try not to look too corporate. Clients want to deal with real people.
- Publish. Even if it isn’t perfect, you have to publish it. I have seen too many of my clients trying to perfect their websites instead of going out to get clients. A website is a perfect excuse for procrastination.
I tend to give my clients a 72-hour challenge. If they manage to publish key pages in under 72 hours, they get a free three-month subscription. It gets them to publish and go after getting clients. It works.
Once you have done all of the above, you can look at increasing traffic and SEO. Here is a short article on how to do that once you are ready.
So here you are.
You can do all that at a weekend. No more excuses.
About the author
Phil Weyland is the co-founder (with technical co-founder Dan Casal pictured) of www.heroicnow.com a website builder designed for coaches, consultants and other professional service providers.
Phil helps coaches and consultants get online fast by providing conversion optimised website templates – helping his clients get more customers.
He was a commercial lawyer in a previous life and is currently running two other successful SaaS businesses for the construction industry www.partywallpro.com and www.surveykit.io. He is passionate about entrepreneurship, technology and helping people get off the nine-to-five treadmill.
For more tips on how to build and grow a coaching and consultancy business visit his Heroic Blog.