Lately, I’ve been talking to a lot of people about getting started in a service based business. They’ve been asking a lot of really great questions about how to get started, I thought I would share them with you today.
I just moved to a new city, and don’t have a network yet. I’m having a hard time finding my first client because I don’t have any references for my new business. How do I get my first client?
SOLO BIZ HACKER: Congratulations on the new biz! The first client is always the hardest to get. You are unproven at this point. There are two good ways I know to get that first client…
The first is to offer to work for someone who already knows you. When I started out, I actually worked for my old company as a virtual employee for six months while I was getting my business off the ground.
The second is to barter. The thing you need to be careful of with bartering is in making sure the person you are trading with values your services. I’ve seen too many people with lower rates (virtual assistants, beginning graphic designers) get into terrible situations with people who charge higher rates (coaches, high end marketing consultants) where the trade value is 10 to 1. I’ve also seen people work in trades for things they don’t really need because they are being “nice”. It ends up causing some resentment for both parties. Time Traders Club is a better way to barter. You trade an hour for an hour and you can use your credits with anyone else in the network – everyone’s HOUR is worth the same. It’s free to join, check it out here.
And that leads nicely into our second question…
How do you get non-local clients?
SOLO BIZ HACKER: That’s a funny question for me. I live in Albuquerque and in the past 8 years, have had exactly 2 local clients. This is mostly because I’m a bit of a home body. I have been working with one of my favorite clients for almost 7 years and we have never met in person!
The key to getting out of state clients is to build trust. You can do that through having strong testimonials and a network of people to give you good “references”. Social proof (testimonials) is critical – because that is one of the few ways potential clients can learn to trust you. There are three keys to creating strong social proof for your business.
Do good work. Need to find work? Time Trader’s Club is a great place to start.
Ask for the testimonial. It is amazing to me how many people don’t ask for testimonials. As soon as you’ve finished doing a good job – ask for the recommendation.
Make it easy for people to leave a testimonial for you. Don’t just ask them to write something, give them questions. Ask them what their business was like before you worked together. Ask them how you have made a difference for them.
Results-based testimonials are your key to developing the social proof needed to attract the perfect clients to your business even if they don’t live in your hometown.
Time Traders Club is the easiest way to go from zero to one quickly. Check it out here – membership is free.
In the first video we looked at the importance of Defining what you are going to do as a business before you take any steps to actually put a plan into action. In the second video we look at the steps you need to take to Refine that idea; we looked at how to Execute the plan; Amplify to a wider audience, and in the final part we see how to create a Mold for your business where you can replicate the process to expand your operation to something larger than yourself.
In the first video we looked at the importance of Defining what you are going to do as a business before you take any steps to actually put a plan into action. In the second video we look at the steps you need to take to Refine that idea; we looked at how to Execute the plan – and in todays video we look at Amplifying your business – getting the word out to a wider audience.
In the first video we looked at the importance of Defining what you are going to do as a business before you take any steps to actually put a plan into action. In the second video we look at the steps you need to take to refine that idea. In today’s video we look at how to execute the plan once you have one, while not getting distracted. The trick is in setting goals and tracking progress.
In the first video we looked at the importance of Defining what you are going to do as a business before you take any steps to actually put a plan into action. In this second video we look at the steps you need to take to refine that idea. Following the Lean Startup model, it is about making sure you know what people want before building out your actual offering – and it will save you a lot of wasted time, energy and money.
In this first part we look at the importance of defining what you are going to do as a business before you take any steps to actually put a plan into action. You need to define what you want this creation to do for YOU in order that you don’t spend time and effort building something only to find that it falls flat.
Are you ready to ESCAPE to a life where you are making money doing what you love? Here is your ESCAPE Plan…
As co-hosts for the Paycheck to Passion podcast, we have listened as dozens of entrepreneurs share their stories on how they make money through their passions. We noticed that many common themes running through all their success stories. Although their businesses were vastly different from each other’s, they all followed similar steps on the path to success.
We also noticed that creating your business at the 40,000 foot level, making day to day tweaks is easier because instead of being random they will be moving you in the direction of success.
E = Explore
The very first step in our process is exploration. You need to decide (in general) what you would like to do as a business. At this point, you can be as impractical as you like. Just think about, and write down, EVERYTHING you think you would like to do. From Aerobic Hula Hooping Coach to Zoo Animal Therapist – anything is fair game.
S = Serve
The next step in the ESCAPE plan is to pay attention to what customers are actually willing to pay for. (Note: You may need to re-think that Aerobic Hula Hooping Coaching idea).
Imagine a diagram with two circles that slightly overlap – on one side is your zone of brilliance – on the other side is what the market really wants. Where the two zones intersect is where you need to focus your service or product. So how do you find that?
You find it through market research and through finding a community to help you create your products. By seeking other people’s input early and often, not only will you create a better product, you will have a built-in group of raving fans to become your early adopters.
C = Create
When you have done that, the next part of the plan is the actual creation of your products. This is the first phase in the construction of your platform. This includes the writing of your manifesto – here are the things that we believe in, and here’s how we can help you. At first you might not even have a pay product. You might just have an opt-in to build your mailing list. You might have a free e-book or free video, or something that people can sign up to get – something that will help people get to know you better.
Whether you are offering a product or a service you need to create a signature system that is totally yours – a step by step process that people go through to get the offering you provide. For example, our signature system is the ESCAPE Plan. But even if you own a restaurant you still have your own way that you like to serve your customers – you have a vibe, or a particular atmosphere or ambiance that you want your restaurant to be known for. Finding out what all those elements are is all part of the creation phase.
The creation phase is also getting the infrastructure in place to start making money. This includes creating your website, hooking up to PayPal or a merchant account so you can take money, setting up your e-mail autoresponder, etc. It is the equivalent of opening up your brick and mortar store.
A = Amplify
The ‘Amplify’ phase starts just as soon as you start letting the world know about you and the services you offer. You can have the most beautiful website in the world, but unless people can find you, you won’t have any customers or make any money.
The Amplify chapter is all about building that megaphone (we call it a platform). The good news is that, if you follow the advice we give in the chapter, you can reduce the time you spend on marketing by reusing and recycling the content that you have already created.
P = Perfect
A lot of businesses achieve early success only to find that they can’t handle any more than three clients. You should think about perfecting your processes and systems from the very beginning as it will make it easier for you to move your business up to the next level later on.
In order to perfect your processes and systems you need to know what to measure in terms of the success of your marketing and amplification efforts, how to measure what kind of results you are getting for your clients, and how to tell whether or not your signature system is working. How much money are you making? Are you making money with this system? And if you scale it, will it make more money as a percentage or less? What are your margins? Although Solo Biz Hacking takes place during all phases of the ESCAPE plan – it is especially important during the perfect phase.
In order to create, monitor and improve your systems you need to use project management tools. You need to have processes in place so that when you add people to your team they don’t have to read your mind to know what to do, it’s all laid out for them.
The other part is in getting feedback and referrals from your customers. From the very beginning you need to build into your system a method of customer evaluation of your offerings, and a way to obtain referrals. Every time your client takes a class you need to send out an evaluation questionnaire – How was it? What can we change? What was its worth? What would you have liked us to cover that we didn’t cover? And – Do you have you any friends who you think might benefit from this?
Testimonials are especially important in online marketing because they act as social proof. People are much more likely to hire someone that somebody recommended to them by someone they know.
E = Expand
The final phase of our ESCAPE Plan is expansion. Expansion is all about exponentially increasing your business through the adding of more team members, the adding of more products, the refining of systems, the creation of partnerships and joint ventures, and so on. If you don’t have the system ready to handle that increase in volume then it cannot take place. You need to think about where you want to take your business right from the very beginning.
Want more? Buy our book The ESCAPE Plan: 6 Steps to Leaving the Job You Hate by Creating a Business You Love