So everyone has been here I am sure, but I am at the point where I need to find new customers to make my business a success. How do you find them, my attempts at advertising have proved to date to be a waste of money. Is it case of finding local business and phoning them? I get them all the time and just find them annoying and didnt want to be just another company doing the same thing.
The first customers are the hardest. You've got no existing customers recommending you, no clear track record to go on, so there's little trust from a potential client.
It depends a bit on the kind of thing you're selling, ie how much trust is required. Can you offer a low price entry point for one small service? Selling that isn't really about making money, but about demonstrating you'll do what you say you'll do. They then may go on to buy a "bigger ticket" item from you, or will more readily recommend you to friends.
With advertising/cold calls, you're hoping for the rare situation where someone's at that time considering buying what you're selling, and also doesn't have any other suppliers they know who offer it.
Of course given where this forum is, networking is another option you should give a go at. Again it's about getting people who could be potential customers, or could know people who could be potential customers, to know you and understand what you do.
It does bring home the memories of how scary that start out bit is!
We had a soft landing - two big contracts in hand very early on.
But on the other hand, in the early days you have very little else to do. You have the opportunity to market like no-one else can. Get to some networking meetings. Get on every local business page, or forum, or anything, that you can. Phone some businesses. Leaflet drop. Knock on some doors. Spend 8 hours a day just making some noise about your business.
But also, I endorse Chris's suggestion. You need to think about exactly how that sale's pitch is going to run. You need to get some customer's on board to give you the ability to say 'these people already have bought my thing'.
I remember a software company (not my own) that started literally by going out and giving it away to someone. Then they pitched up at enquiry two and said 'these people are using it. But as you are second, you can have 75% discount). Customer 3 got 50% discount.
Thanks guys. When I started my business I had a contract with a company already then I got a second, both companies I had worked with for the past 15 years or so. Between those two companies my business costs are covered plus a very small wage.
To move forward I need additional customers so my savings stop vanishing and it can pay a sensible wage. 4 N was recommended to me and I will be attending a meeting at the end of the month so hopefully that will help move me forward.
Sounds like both you and Paul had it easy compared to me, I started completely cold turkey!
However, I'm a bit of an idiot, and very much someone who needs to learn everything the hard way rather than be told...so it kinda worked for me. I've always been frugal, so whilst I didn't enjoy watching my savings from corporate life dripping away over that first year, I was able to live off very little without being miserable.
As Paul suggests, I had all the time of the world. Not all of it I used well...but it's hard knowing what will work and what won't. However, staring at the phone waiting for it to ring certainly isn't a good use of time.
Looking back, for me, the 2nd year was my least favourite. 1st year I had loads of time, no work, so tons of freedom...plus I was out and about meeting people. 2nd year was so lonely. I had _some_ work which I'd do on my own in a dark room. I didn't have enough work to get anyone else involved, but also cut back on networking etc. It was a lonely time. 3rd year I got some part time assistance (they were as much a counsellor as an accountant!), and the social aspect improved. It's then grown from there.
It's a hard slog, anyone telling you otherwise is lying (or was very lucky!). However, stick at it, learn from your mistakes, and you'll get there!
For a hosting business, you could partner with web design/SEO/SMM agencies and get referrals from them. Networking should help make connections in that category but cold calling could also help.
Public speaking is another good option to get the word out, so consider doing some 4 Sights and taking on other speaking engagements.
I'd also add here that when you do speak - FILM IT. You can then use this footage in your social medias etc to start building trust + rapport faster than any text-only blog would. I offer to film anyone doing a 4Sight when I'm going to be there as well for this exact reason. If you're smart with your presenting time you could get , in a 20 minute 4Sight for example, three key points across to the room. Each of these points can then be cut up into three videos for online - yaaaaas!
Back to the original question. My first filming gig was a referral from my wife to someone she knew through business networking. Being a cloud storage company I'd echo what Martin says above by getting in touch with other (local) web based businesses and see if there is an opportunity for colabboration.