When you’re just getting started, the most important thing you can do is to acquire a customer: find someone to serve. What you need to do is get experience, to see what works and doesn’t work, and be able to quickly change gears as needed. You may have an ideal customer in mind, but at this point you just want any customer. The point is to start serving and delivering on your promise. You’ll start feeling a sense of responsibility because your name is on the line. All of a sudden if there’s a problem, it’s your problem. To get that customer, you don’t need to get all cold-calling on people. You need to start telling people what you offer. This is often times people you already know.
Even before getting all the tax and legal stuff situated, you can start by focusing on customers. This is very simple in the beginning. What makes it hard to do is doing it. There’s no need to complicate a simple process.
Here’s the process:
What do you currently have to offer? If you’re not sure, make a list of 3-5 services you believe you’d be able to perform for a family member or friend. This doesn’t need to be complicated. Maybe you’re good at mowing lawns or moving boxes. Perhaps you’re good with software troubleshooting or computer hardware repair? Or maybe you know how to cook yummy food? Perhaps you’re persuasive and have helped friends sell their possessions for them. These are all things that you can already do without additional investment.
Who do you know? Consider either making a list of people you’ve helped in the past, or people you could help. Think about who you currently work with that you can offer complementary services too. You can approach this by actually calling them to get coffee. Naturally, people will ask you what you do for work and that will be your opportunity to share what you’re working on and to let them know that if they need your services to let you know. I don’t believe you need to close the deal right then and there. You’re not a multi-level deal, therefore you can truly have it be a genuine “Let’s get coffee and catch up” meeting.
How can you get in touch with them? Today, getting in touch with people is very easy. Almost everyone is on social media of some sort. If they’re not, then you probably know someone who knows them who has their contact info.
Who do they know and how can you get in touch with them? Once you get a chance to sit down over coffee with someone, and you feel like your conversations were productive, fruitful, and encouraging, towards the end of the meeting feel free to ask if they know anyone that can benefit from their services. They will give you one of three answers. 1. No. 2. Yes 3. I’ll think about it and let you know. If they give you a name and contact info, ask them if they’d be able to let that person know that they were referred by them: it’s nice to have the referral expecting a phone call or email.
Review, adjust, repeat (remember to keep your receipts and enter them into your business accounting software or give them to your bookkeeper).
The other thing is pricing. If you are doing a consulting business, don’t worry too much about pricing. You need to find out what the market is willing to pay you. In my case, I let my first customer pay me whatever they wanted for my services. That gave me a decent base line to jump from. My next customer was willing to pay me more. Since my supply of time truly is scarce, and as my experience increased, my third customer was willing to pay even more. I also was able to book another client for a monthly payment for full service and unlimited access. This also worked well. When it comes to determining pricing, you have to start somewhere and then be able to continue to test the market because the market will speak to you: they’ll say “yes” or “not worth it”.
At the end of the day, find people to serve and don’t complicate it. You don’t need to take sales courses or negotiating tactics. You need to serve people with what you already know. When you do this, there won’t be a need to prove yourself worthy because you already know that you can do the work and will have the necessary confidence to do it.