It’s interesting to look back over the past few years and see how the startup scene has evolved. A few years back, new business owners weren’t running after funding to put their startups on the map. They came up with creative ways to do so and pushed the boundaries of what we thought was impossible to accomplish.
Now more than ever though I get emails from startup founders looking for funding to get their ideas or startups off the ground. They feel their ideas are worth billions, but don’t really want to put their own money at risk for the sake of it and it’s starting to weigh down on the industry.
A few years ago you needed to work hard to get where you want to be and no I’m not saying it’s easy pickings today, but listening to founders trashing their ideas because they couldn’t get funding makes me cringe.
Anyway, let’s not go into depth about the startup scene and how things have changed, let’s rather look at the main reason why startups fail. No, it isn’t because they have a bad product or couldn’t reach their funding goals.
The main reason is that they can’t find enough paying customers to sustain themselves and grow their businesses month after month. Yes, there are needles in the haystack, but the majority of the time, finding a founder that knows what he or she is doing first time round is very rare.
Jason Evanish wrote a solid article two years ago on practical tips to acquire your first paying customer and that can be found here.
In this article though, I want to give you five broad areas you can shift your focus towards for acquiring your first paying customers. At the end of the day, you need to know which areas to focus on when going live with your product or business.
A) Inner Network
Whenever I start or get involved in something new I reach out to a few people close to me to find out what they think of the business, I get their feedback and more-so have them test run it for me. Every single time I’ve done this, I’ve had people signup for long-term use. Yes, it does depend on their industries and what service or solution the business provided, but the point is, people close to you like to add value and be involved with whatever you’re working on.
B) Cold Calling
A lot of you might think that cold calling is dead. I don’t agree and I can show you millions of other business men and women who don’t agree either. You need a good sales team that know what they are doing and believe in the products they are selling. If you’re new to sales, dive into some training by Chet Holmes or Grant Cardone. There are a lot of sales trainers out their that can help you smarten up your game.
C) Suggestion Approach
Many a times I’ve had people reach out to me to suggest a new product that is available on the market. Don’t be scared to put yourself out there. If you feel that your product is a good fit for a certain business or person, reach out to them and suggest they try out the product. Yes, you might feel bit biased about it, but that’s completely normal. If you don’t tell people about your business, why should others?
D) Special Pricing
When launching a business you will often find people running special pricing offers for the first month or so to get as many people through the doors as possible. When you launch and reach out to different platforms for marketing distribution, offer their readers or customers special pricing when being referred by them. Make sure that you as the business also run special pricing offers, but just not as low as through the platform you’re being launched through.
E) Establish Referral Partnerships
Build a strong network of people that believe in you and your business and let them help you sell your products or services. By offering them 20% or a margin dependent on the selling price of the product, they can put your product in front of people you might not have access to. Establish relationships with people that can help you take your business to the next level.
Now don’t get me wrong, these areas I mentioned above aren’t the only areas you can focus on. There are hundreds of different ways to find new customers and a lot of them depends on your industry too. So, if you’re looking for more, go back and read Jason’s article I mentioned. He put together 95 other ways you can find your first paying customers and if you’re still unsatisfied, head to Google and search Growth Hacking. There is enough information for you to immerse yourself in.