Once you’ve been able to raise capital to start your business, the next thing on your mind as a new entrepreneur is getting your first client(s). For someone who has been rendering this service for free, it’s pretty simple and straightforward: start charging those same people. However, for those who are starting from scratch, a few pointers are needed. Here are a few tested and trusted ones:
1. Offer your services to your former employers. This is just one of the many reasons why it’s important to not burn bridges. As someone who has former employers as major clients, I can tell you that this is one good way to build your clientele. Just be good at what you do, and always resign on a good note.
2. Former colleagues and clients. Apart from your employers, your old 9-5 also gives you a network of people you worked with as colleagues or as clients. Leverage this by letting them know about your new business. They may even be working with other companies on projects that need your services. You never know. Stay in touch.
3. Referrals. Word-of-mouth remains one of the oldest ways to get new clients. Do a great job for a client, and chances are others will get to hear of you!
4. The internet. Technology has made it much easier to get the word out there. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and even good old email are effective ways to source for new clients. Don’t forget to use pictures, and key into hashtags or start your own. For instance, I run a ghostwriting and editing business and I use the hashtag #YouNeedAnEditor for tweets related to grammar, spelling, writing and proofreading. If your business is more visual, incorporate lots of pictures in your social media updates.
Here’s how a few Nigerian entrepreneurs responded to the question, “How do you source clients for your business?”
“My business is aimed at those people who know and appreciate great baking, confectionery or baked goods. Most of our new jobs come through referrals from satisfied customers.” ~ Ugonma Chiori, McCreamyz Cakes (@McCreamyzCakes)
“We put out ads online, send reminder texts and emails to existing customers and rely on recommendations too.” ~ Nnenna Egbuche, Soup to Your Door (@souptoyourdoor)
“We use different methods; internet ads, referrals, text messaging services. Our major source is actually referrals; we are very proud of this.” ~ Eniola Suley, Anywork Services (@Anywork)
Interested in more tips from entrepreneurs? Check out our CNTV Meet the Boss series.