A business can’t really be successful if it doesn’t have any customers. Your customers should be at the heart of what you do, but how do you find them to begin with? It may seem like the most daunting part of starting your own business, but it doesn’t have to be so bad.
The most important part of finding your customers is figuring out who they are. If you’ve followed our guide to writing your business plan then you’ll hopefully have your target market figured out, but if not it’s time to dive in. What does your ideal customer look like? Where do they shop, work, live? What do they do for fun? Where do they spend their time online? These questions will go a long way in figuring out where you can connect with your ideal target audience and get started with turning these people into loyal customers.
Once you’ve figured out where they are, be that the social media platforms they use or the forums they frequent, you can use this information to build a promotion strategy that really shouts about what you do. Social media and other digital channels are great tools for fledgling businesses with limited funds, so having a presence on the platforms that your audience use is paramount. Use these networks to tell the world about what you’re doing and why it matters, working with your ideal customer in mind at all times.
No such thing as stealth
Shouting about your business in your existing network - like your friends and family - is another brilliant way to start building your client base. You never know who might need your product or services, and maybe the people in your circle will be able to connect you with someone else who’s looking for exactly what you have to offer.
Expanding this existing circle of contacts through networking will go a long way in building your client base, too. “Networking” has turned into one of those cliches that you’ll probably be fed up of hearing by now, but there’s a reason it’s mentioned time and time again - it works. Get yourself out there, either online or in person, and meet some new people. Set up your LinkedIn account, start following new people on Twitter and peruse the listings on Eventbrite and Meetup to see what’s happening near you.
Gaining your first customers may seem like the most important part of running your business - but the work doesn’t stop once you’ve got them. Increasing your customer retention and creating a base of loyal customers can improve your profits by up to 95% - sounds good, right? Keep your existing customers happy whilst encouraging them to become ambassadors for your brand, promoting what you do within their circle, and the cogs will keep on turning.
There is no definitive, failsafe method of gaining clients for your business, but if you put in the legwork the customers should follow.