A Short Guide to Landing Your First Customer

Two Business Owners Signing a Deal

You quit your day job, turned in your company keycard, and now you’re looking to land your first client. It’s a daunting, exhilarating opportunity for any new business owner. Thankfully, you needn’t be so anxious — just stay persistent, follow these principles, and next thing you know you’ll be sending your first invoice!

You contemplated, researched, and planned. You quit your day job, turned in your company keycard, and now you’re looking to land your first client. It’s a daunting, exhilarating opportunity for any new business owner. Ask any entrepreneur and they will surely have their own story to tell you. 

When I decided to launch my company I was consumed with fear that my entrepreneurial ambitions would be shattered if I couldn’t find a client. Thankfully, you needn’t be so anxious — just stay persistent, follow these principles, and next thing you know you’ll be sending your first invoice!

Leverage Your Network

Before you have a client base to generate referrals and case studies, your network will be the clearest path to landing your first deal. Hopefully, you didn’t burn any bridges at your former workplace!

To the contrary, former bosses, coworkers, and other colleagues or friends should be the first rocks to turn while looking for business. They’ve worked with you closely so they can attest to your expertise, work ethic, and results. Not only that, but they are often excited to see their former officemate gunning for their dreams! My first customer was a former boss and it is a surprisingly common way to find business.

Lay the Foundation

If you’re planning to leverage your network while searching for a client,  it behooves you to invest in that network before you need it. In fact, the years leading up to your launch will have an infinitely larger impact on your initial success than what you do in the months leading up to launch. 

This is a lesson I learned while searching for my own first client. I was speaking with a former boss when I lamented my lack of customers, looking for advice on how to get started. He recalled the work I had done for him and told me, “I’ll be your first customer, let’s get you started!” Just like that, the effort I had put in years before I even thought of launching a company was paying off. Pay forward your favors now, get involved in the business community, and do everything you can to ensure people remember you as a rising star that was willing to help them when they needed it, it’ll pay dividends. 

Have a Problem-Solving Mentality

If you’re not a natural salesperson you may overcompensate by trying to sell too hard. It might seem contrarian but forget the selling and start solving problems. If you’re enthusiastic about solving a problem for the community, people will reciprocate your excitement. 

Not only will a problem-solving mentality help you land your first client, it’ll help you land a great client. If you focus on contributing to the people who pay you they are more likely to keep working with you, more likely to leave a 5-star review, and more likely to grant you referrals. I can’t emphasize this enough — don’t take a client you can’t help, as tempting as the cash may be.

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Do the Little Things

You’re on the clock the second someone would like to meet with you. Everything counts from the thoughtfulness of your follow-up to the amount of time it takes you to send pricing. 

Remember, without a track record to stand on, people will put more emphasis on the sales process because they have no other way to vet your business. If it takes you 3 days to follow-up on an inquiry, what does that imply about your customer service? 

Get Friendly with the Competition

Seriously — no one else understands the ins-and-outs of your industry better than the competition. Don’t be shy about reaching out to others in your space for some first-hand insights. It probably makes sense to speak with other businesses who have a model distinctive from your own, but it never hurts to ask! 

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