The Screaming Emergency That Most New Business Owners Ignore
If your business doesn’t have customers yet, it’s not a business.
It’s a hobby. Or an art project. Or an experiment. Or something else, but not a business.
But not as harsh as wasting a year on your non-business, because no one wants what you’re trying to sell.
But what about Google, Facebook and Twitter? None of those had revenues in the beginning.
Correct, but they were taking on huge opportunities and were funded with stacks of external capital.
Is that the type of business you’re building?
If it is, then good luck. This post isn’t for you. THDC isn’t for you. Sorry to have interrupted your quest.
A business with no customers is a screaming emergency warning siren for the rest of us.
For those trying to build a one or two person micro business – which is most THDC readers, It’s the number one reason the business will fold, or you’ll give up on it.
Without customers you have no business. You’ll be stuck in that job you hate for much longer yet.
If you have no customers, it’s time to act
Before you get upset because I’ve just called your pride and joy a non-business, all is not lost. How you react to hearing the warning siren is far more important then whether you have any customers now or not. Those who hear the warning, realise what’s happening and go get their first customers will win.
Those who don’t will probably be stuck on one of the “But first”s:
But first I need to get my product right
OK – you need to have something to sell. But what you sell in the beginning won’t look like what you sell when your business is matured. Trying to “perfect” your product before you show it to real customers is impossible. Get comfortable with a Minimum Viable Product and launch it ASAP.
If you’re selling physical things, this can still apply. Yes, the minimum viable T Shirt is still a T shirt, and still needs to be made. Instead create a minimal viable range – think one design in one colour, not a full spring collection.
But first I need my web site to look just so
No, you don’t. Maybe you don’t even need a website? You do need one? Get one page set up with your basic message, then come back to it once your customers tell you what you’re really selling.
But first I need to set up my business properly
Don’t break the law, but everything else can wait.
You don’t need an office, you need a kitchen table. You don’t need a bank account when PayPal is a thing. You don’t need business cards – you just don’t. Maybe you’ll need all that stuff eventually, but not now.
How do I get my first customers?
So you’re convinced of the need to act, but you’re asking yourself how. The good news is, what you need to do isn’t complicated. The bad news is that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
There’s no right way, apart from “whatever works”.
The thing is, you’re good, you work hard, and you’re determined to succeed. I know you are. If you focus all your attention on getting your first customers, and leave everything else until later, you’ll do it.
Some practical steps? I suggest keeping it simple:
Tell everyone about your business, but don’t try to sell to them
If they’re interested, they’ll let you know, but maybe they know someone who you’re perfect for. D this with your friends, your wider network, and everyone you meet who will listen to you. It will feel uncomfortable at first, but push through that and get used to it.
Focus on getting the sale, not the cost of creating the product
Do things that don’t scale, and worry about making the sale, not making huge profits to begin with.
Copy what works
Find one of these examples that’s like your business. What did they do? You can focus on being unique once you’ve bagged those first three customers.
Good luck. Find those buyers, and then maybe reward yourself with a business card…