Three Ways to Find Your First Customer

business-agreement-saleTake your startup idea to the next level—a startup company—by getting paying customers. <click to tweet> Whether you are hoping to pre-sell your product or if you are ready to make a sale, here are three sources that may lead to your first customer.

Network. Tap existing relationships—friends, family, former colleagues. Here you will find many of your greatest allies. If not able or willing to buy from you, they can still help spread the word and extend your network. Present or make an appearance at events and seminars that prospects might attend. Get involved in the community and with your local Chamber of Commerce. Attend an Improving Investability Workshop or the 2016 Venture Madness Conference scheduled March 2-4, 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona. You’ll be surprised how quickly your prospect list will grow.

Collaborate. Create partnerships that add credibility—use the credibility of an existing, trusted complimentary business to attract your first customers. Provide an offer or discount that the established company can offer to its contacts and clients. Capture email and names of those who inquire about or take advantage of the offer. Collaboration with other businesses can lead to new opportunities.

Enlighten. Develop your business as the expert. Use social media, white papers, seminars, podcasting, and blogging to offer people helpful advice or resources. Or give away a sample or test drive of your product. Give the experience to prospects and leave them wanting more. If you have beta users, ask for testimonials that communicate the benefits you offer beyond an audience of early adopters. Your first customers will follow. And they will give life to your startup.

“The only two people who can give you real feedback about your product are people who just purchased it and people who have just canceled.” —Jason Fried

These are just a few ideas to get your startup from an idea to a business. Sales often happen because prospects hear about your offer in several ways and from different sources. Repetition is helpful—the more often prospects hear about you, the more likely they are to consider buying in to your offer.