Successfully starting a new business is about minimizing risk, which means keeping startup costs low until you have a solid proof of concept. But while it's best to keep costs down, it's also important to do things right from the beginning so you don't build your company on a weak foundation.
Luckily, as citizens of the year 2017 we have plenty of free, or relatively inexpensive, resources that go a long way in helping us build credibility, stay organized, and (when the time is right) get the word out about our business.
So, where to start?
1. Website and Email Address
I hear a lot of people say this is an unnecessary expense before you have a client. I disagree. Today, web presence is everything, and a stunning website will cost you less than $100 if you do it right.
- Go to and purchase a domain for your site. For now, only pay for one year--until your concept is proven.
- Go to and use their templates to design a site that clearly explains your offering.
- In Squarespace, create a custom domain email address. Don't sell your idea from a Gmail account. Remember, credibility. Use instead.
2. Get Organized
Tracking communication and staying organized is absolutely imperative from the very beginning. If you're like me, your desktop has about 500 files saved to it and you have folders called "Desktop Stuff" and "Desktop Stuff 2". This won't cut it when you're keeping track of clients and working to provide a smooth, high quality service.
Do yourself a favor and goand make a account. Their completely free Sales CRM is an absolute lifesaver--tracking email correspondence, uploading proposals and contracts, monitoring deal progress, and more.
Form the habit early. Get organized from the very beginning.
3. Get Feedback and Network
Now it's time to begin reaching out to friends and family. Ask for feedback on your website and business idea, and ask if they know anyone that might be interested in your offering.
Pitch your concept at cost--whatever you can offer it at without losing money. Until you have 2 or 3 clients, you will still be figuring things out. You don't want to bring full-price clients onboard and figure things out as you go. This is how bad impressions are made and reputations are ruined. It's a thousand times smarter to cover costs at first and wow your initial clients. Make them understand they are getting you for a steal. This goes a long way for referrals.
4. Make Your Expertise Known
Go to places like Quora and LinkedIn and show off your knowledge. Go directly to where people are discussing the pain points your business addresses and communicate your solution. Solve problems, answer questions. Provide value to people in your target market to begin positioning yourself as a trusted voice in the industry.
Ultimately, getting your first clients will depend on the strength of your business idea and your ability to explain and sell it. And remember: feedback is like gold. Tell people about your business and listen closely to their reactions, questions, and suggestions. You just might find yourself shifting the focus of your company in a direction that seems obvious after the fact.
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