3 Ways to Find & Retain Your First Customers at Startup

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3 Ways to Find & Retain Your First Customers at Startup

No matter what industry you’re in, every startup business owner has the same burning question: “How will I find my first customer?”

If you’re currently sitting on an epic business idea (or are in the process of launching a new business) and are dealing with the same fear, know that it’s totally normal. Landing your first client is a big deal! This individual is, in a sense, proving that your business idea wasn’t a total fluke. They’re showing you that what you have to offer the world is also something that can make you money and help you deepen your influence.

Today on the blog, we’re covering 7 different strategies you can use to attract your very first clients to your business as an early-stage start up owner. You can even get started working on these actionable steps today, so let’s stop wasting time and dive in.

  • Write a detailed business plan.
  • Those of you who have been a member of the OJC community for some time now know that I’m a massive advocate for business planning. Specifically, I believe you should have a comprehensive, written plan in place that you can refer back to and adjust as you go. This will be instrumental in ensuring that the actions you are currently taking to grow your business have a means to an end. For more information about why you need a business plan, check out my blog post all about it.

    And don’t worry if the thought of creating a business plan is totally daunting and time-consuming. You don’t need to sit at your desk and spend hours creating one from scratch. Instead, use a customisable template so that you can check off all the boxes and make sure all of the most important info is included. The OJC Downloadable Business Plan is just $47AUD and packed with fill-in-the-blanks to help you create the perfect plan.

  • Create an ideal customer profile (ICP).
  • Before you can find your first customer, you need to know who you are targeting. Enter your ideal customer profile. This will help you develop a nuanced understanding of who your ideal customer is and their pain and pleasure points — in turn allowing you to create even more powerful marketing materials that resonate with them on a deeper level.

    Your ideal customer profile doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but it is a good idea to touch on the following sections:

  • Demographics
    Include key demographic information like your ideal customer’s career and industry, geographic location, gender, and age range.

  • Customer Benefits
    Describe the benefits your customer will gain by using your product or service.

  • Customer Pain Points
  • What problems and struggles is your ideal customer currently dealing with, and how do they relate to the solution you are proposing via your products/services?

  • Talking Points
  • List a few talking points that your customers will resonate with in connection to their current pain points. For example, if your customer is dealing with acne and you sell a skincare solution, one of your talking points could be about the detrimental effect of acne on self-esteem and how that shifts when the skin clears up.

    It isn’t difficult to find free customisable ICP templates online — a quick Google search will provide you with tons of options to choose from based on your desired level of detail.

  • Look within your existing network.
  • Once your business plan and ideal customer profile are complete, you’re now ready to begin actively searching for new customers. A great place to start is always your existing network — people who know you (or know of you) will automatically feel inclined to trust you more thanks to your existing connection. Keep your business plan and ICP on hand and start with social media. Platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok are powerful ways to put yourself in front of individuals who are likely to want what you’re offering.

    Once you have a list of potential leads, you can reach out and explain your business idea. Ask for feedback and see what happens. Some may be interested, some may refer you to their network, some may not respond — and all of those outcomes are completely okay. Your goal here isn’t to fill your customer list with people from your network, but to get comfortable generating visibility for the idea and in doing so hopefully land your first customer.

    And hey, never underestimate the power of your network’s network. The people who choose not to buy from you may not be the right fit, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know other interested parties. Feel free to directly ask your family and friends for referrals if they know anybody who would need your product and fit the profile of your ideal client. You can also follow up with anybody you reached out to previously who didn’t respond to see if they can pass along your information to their network.