What do you think is the most important step in starting a small business?
- Choosing a Company Name?
- Creating a Website?
- Getting Business Cards?
- Setting up a Legal Structure for your business?
While these are certain things you need to consider and figure out, I strongly believe these are NOT the most important steps and valuable time should not be wasted trying to figure these things out initially.
Fortunately, when I started my first business, I didn’t spend much time on any of that, not because I knew that was the right thing but because I wasn’t really sure if my idea was viable and I wanted to test it out.
So, the first thing I did was land my first customer. The way I went about it wasn’t perfect but I did it anyway. I think getting the first customer is THE BEST thing to do when starting a small business. Because, if you don’t have any customers, you really don’t have a business…you have an idea.
It makes no sense to spend time and money on a website, business cards, and everything else if your business idea is crap.
Test it out by trying to land your first customer. You will quickly understand if you have a good idea and not waste your time or your hard-earned money.
I guess this may seem really obvious but I wonder if it is? I bet a lot of people get caught up in the “details” in the beginning and therefore it takes a really long time to get any traction.
If you want to gain traction then take action.
Why is it important to get your first customer before you do anything else? Well, there are many reasons but here’s three:
(1) You are able to test your business idea to make sure it is viable
(2) You will get business-building momentum going
(3) You get some revenue coming in before you have any real expenses
I can still remember the day that I decided to get my first customer. I was nervous as hell but I had a list of about 5 people I had met in a previous job.
I knew they were potential candidates for my service and I knew them but it had been about a year since I had spoken to them so I wasn’t even sure if they would remember me.
I also created a little “script” just in case I got so damn nervous that I forgot what to say. Trust me, this came in handy!
So I sat in front of my telephone with my sheet of paper with the 5 names and phone numbers on it and my script. I stared at the sheet of paper while shaking a little because I was so nervous…which by the way was really weird for me because I had been in sales for a few years at that point and had made thousands of cold calls with absolutely no problem.
But the problem was, I never had to represent a company that didn’t even exist. That was kind of hard to get past.
A bunch of self-doubt crept into my mind. What if they asked me questions I couldn’t answer? What if they laughed at me? What if they thought I was nuts?
Then I thought about how much I wanted to start my own business and I would never know what it was like until I tried.
So I decided to Just Do It. I picked up the phone and dialed the number. I started with the nicest person on the list first because I wanted to increase my odds of success.
So anyway, the long story short is, I just decided to do it and that day I picked up my first 2 customers. It didn’t go perfectly and I’m sure they could tell I was scared shitless but I did it anyway.
And that is the key. You just have to do it. You get some success which brings the momentum. Then you screw some things up but this is good because it tells you what you need to fix to make your business better. Then you repeat the process.
The best thing is, small businesses WANT to do business with other small businesses! Most people also want to see other people succeed and they want to be a part of that success.
So take my advice and JUST DO IT.
If you haven’t “launched” your first business yet, make a commitment to yourself to contact your first potential customer tomorrow.
Make a list of about 5 people or more since you may not reach a couple and you want to have some level of success right away…that will get the momentum going.
When you get even a tiny bit of success you will feel a rush of excitement and relief that will carry you to the next customer and the next and so on.