Becoming a freelancer or establishing a new small business is both exciting and nerve-wracking. On the one hand, you’re starting your journey as your own boss. On the other, there’s tons to figure out on your own — like how to get your first 10 customers.
While there are many strategies to building a new business, they all begin by dreaming big and starting small. If you want 100 loyal customers, start by getting 10 loyal customers. Once you build loyalty with 10, then you can continue to grow from there.
It’s our mission at Invoice2go, a Bill.com company, to empower small businesses worldwide with advice on topics like this. We’re here to provide you with the best tips to help your business grow and thrive. Our Subscriber Success community is an excellent place to connect with other business owners and take steps toward success.
Let’s check out the 4 top strategies to get your first 10 customers:
1. Spread the word within your network to get your first 10 customers
Technology and fancy-sounding tactics can sound exciting, but the most effective ways to get your first 10 customers are pretty straightforward.
Talk about your business with your network. Let everyone know you’re going pro and ask if they know others who can use your services. For example, long-time Invoice2go subscriber Madeleine Nance got her first customer for her now-successful copywriting business simply by talking with a friend over lunch.
You can also put the word out on social media. A short message talking about your service and asking if anyone knows of someone who can use your help can set you on your way.
Once you start getting leads, be sure to set up a follow-up plan. Customer relationships require trust and communication, so keep that in mind and know that you may have to have several conversations before someone becomes a paying customer.
Spread the word checklist:
- Tell your network about your business. This could be friends, family, colleagues, or people in community groups you belong to.
- Make a post online announcing your business to your followers. Ask them if they know anyone who could benefit from your services.
- Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and plan how you want to follow up. Remember that you’ll likely have to put in more work to build trust, especially in the beginning.
2. Make it a point to build an online presence
Like it or not, these days it’s almost impossible to grow a successful business without an online presence. Think about any time you consider a new product or service – what do you do first? Research and read reviews online.
As you work to get your first 10 customers, create social media accounts for your business and consider making a simple website. There are easy and inexpensive ways to get a professional-looking website up. There are also freelancer and industry-specific sites that help you create an impressive portfolio quickly.
The social media accounts you choose may depend on your industry. You only need to be on 1-2 platforms when you start out. (We have tips to help you get set up on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and TikTok.)
From here, use basic search engine optimization (SEO) to show up in more Google search results. You don’t need to be an expert at this point, but consider what your customers would likely type into Google when looking for your services. Then, use these words and phrases in the content on your website and social media. Also, by interlinking your website, social media and publishing content regularly, you’ll become easier to find online over time.
Building an online presence checklist:
- Start building your online presence with an inexpensive website or portfolio.
- Choose at least 1 social media platform for your business and set up a profile. Be sure to fill out the information completely.
- Understand the basics of how people find business online. Think of keywords your customers may type into Google to find your business and use them in your content. Keep in mind that building SEO takes time.
3. Use customer reviews as testimonials and to improve your service
Once you get your first customer and finish doing business, ask for feedback. A collection of authentic positive reviews can show others your level of excellence. 85% of consumers trust online reviews from strangers as much as personal recommendations.
After you request a review—get ready for the results and embrace the results, no matter what they are.
Positive reviews are worth celebrating and deserve a place on your website and social accounts. Critical reviews also deserve respect and attention. The more honest feedback you receive, the more readily you can adjust those aspects of your growing business to appeal to more customers down the road.
Growth and constructive criticism go hand-in-hand. Many new business owners find a sense of empowerment from responding to negative reviews, and can sometimes even change the reviewers’ impression of their business by doing so.
Responding to a negative review isn’t a moment to engage unsatisfied customers in conflict. Instead, it’s a way to address concerns professionally and thoroughly. Let them know you appreciate their feedback and then take steps to correct any issues.
Providing this type of compassionate response lets current customers know that they come first. It also gives people who are considering partnering with your business an insight into your work culture. Both are positive outcomes in the end.
Using feedback to improve and get more customers checklist:
- Ask for feedback each time after doing business with someone. If you use Invoice2go, you can easily request online reviews. However, you can also ask for reviews on social media and industry-specific platforms.
- Add positive feedback on your website and share it on your social media accounts. It’s time to celebrate!
- Learn from critical reviews. If they’re honest, this feedback can help you take steps to get your first 10 customers faster.
4. Seek mentors, network, and keep learning
Remember: no business is an island. Seek advice and get help when you need it. There are plenty of professionals who have been in the game for longer – and their suggestions can save you time and stress.
Reach out and network with other business owners and freelancers working in a similar industry. The initial outreach may feel uncomfortable, but acts of micro bravery help you build confidence to be more courageous.
Connecting with other business owners online is a convenient route to help you get your first 10 customers. We have 3 supportive online communities you can join to get tips and get advice about current challenges. Also, attending in-person networking events can be helpful (once it’s safe to do so).
Some people have negative attitudes about networking, but keep in mind that this isn’t about schmoozing. It’s about finding others who are just as serious about learning as you are. You’d be surprised by how many experienced business owners are willing to highly value tips.
Also, consider getting training in areas that will help you grow your business. We offer free mini-courses and produce a podcast for women business owners. The Small Business Association also has plenty of free resources.
Books are high-value ways to make strides quickly. Plus, if you have the budget, there are tons of industry-specific online seminars that can help you get your first 10 customers and improve your service.
Through online networking, in-person events, or training seminars, you might be surprised to find someone who offers a service that is complementary to your own. Teaming up in the name of referrals and resources is never something that’s going to be detrimental. Instead, it creates a solid professional foundation from which to grow simultaneously.
Networking, training, and ongoing learning checklist:
- Join an online community or reach out to at least 3 experienced independent professionals. Ask them specific questions, and be sure to thank them for their time. Build long-term relationships by following up and telling them if their advice helps you.
- Think of at least one thing you could learn to improve your business, and take advantage of all the free and inexpensive resources online to do so. Look into courses and seminars as well.
- Keep connecting with other business owners. Making agreements to send each other referrals can be a win-win.
Let the Journey Begin
At Invoice2go, we’re excited to help new business owners to find their industry footing. We’re dedicated to helping you grow your business from one customer to 10, to as many as you desire.
Join the Invoice2go Subscriber Success community to get the latest product updates and more helpful tips.