20 Simple Ways to Get your First Clients for a New Business

20 Simple ways to get your first client

20 Simple Ways to Get your First Client

When you work out how to get clients for your new business, it’s such an exciting milestone!

It provides a massive sense of relief after all those hours spent building the foundational parts of your business.

However, how do you go about achieving that milestone?

What actions do you need to take for that elusive first client to appear?

Well, the successful small business owners are the ones that focus on keeping things simple.

It’s difficult to tell exactly how you are going to get your first client.

However, there are some well-known simple strategies that new business owners take to set themselves up for success.

Simple ways to get your first client


How to Get Clients for a New Business

To help you get clients I’ve compiled a list of 20 simple strategies below. (Many of these will also apply for getting your second, third and fourth clients as well!)

To ensure you don’t become overwhelmed and exhausted, don’t try to do all of the things on this list at once. Rather, pick four or five ideas that resonate with you and focus in on implementing these well.


1. Understand your market and communicate clearly

When first starting it, it’s hard to define what it is you do clearly. It can even change over time.

However, it’s essential that you’ve spent some time upfront thinking about:

  • Whom you want to help (your target market)
  • What solution is going to offer to solve their problem (service offering)
  • Why your offer is different or better than the competition (your unique value)

Don’t overcomplicate this part. Start by merely answering those three questions and incorporating it into your sales pitch.

I help [target market] by offering them [service offering], and I provide it in a way that adds value by [unique value].

When you can communicate clearly, potential clients will understand if they are a good fit. Also, you will be able to better educate others on how they can refer clients to you.

RELATED: How to Define a Target Market for your Service Business


2. Spread the word to family and friends

Telling your family and friends that you’ve started your business and you’re looking for clients is probably the most effective way to get your first client.


Telling your family and friends that you’ve started your business and you’re looking for clients is probably the most effective way to get your first client. Click To Tweet


You’ve probably heard many successful business owners tell you that their first clients were referrals from their network.

A quick tip when asking for referrals – be sure to let your network know what you do and whom you can help.

Don’t assume they know! It will help put you in touch with the right leads.


3. Speak to former employers and colleagues

From a professional perspective, these are the people who know you best.

They understand your strengths and the quality of the work you can produce. As such, they are more likely to be comfortable with referring you to others.

Again, be sure to communicate what you do and whom you can help to increase your chances of connecting with your ideal clients.


4. Have a plan and set realistic expectations

Having a plan and realistic expectations will help keep you focused on getting your first client.

Give yourself some time to build a pipeline of leads. In addition, have a plan to sustain your living expenses in the meantime to take the pressure off.

While we would all love to sign a $2,000+ client first up, it makes it so much more difficult to get your first client.

Remember, keep things simple when first starting out.

If you find it challenging to create a plan or set realistic goals, then consider how a business coach could assist you.

RELATED: 7 Reasons Why You Need to Do a Marketing Plan

If you want to write a marketing plan but you’re not sure what to include, I’ve put together a free 72-point Ultimate Marketing Checklist to help you get started. Simply click below to download.



5. Conduct market research on your target market

It’s a step often overlooked or rushed by new business owners. It’s also a great way to get a meeting with potential clients.

Ask someone whom you think could be a potential client if they would help you with some market research.

You never know where the conversation might lead and once they have a better understanding of your new business, they may even hire or refer you.

Effective research methods include speaking to multiple people who fit your target market, competitor and industry research, engaging in relevant Facebook groups, answering questions on Twitter and Quora and searching on Google for popular keywords.

RELATED: 5 Common mistakes small businesses make with their target market


6. Update your social media profiles and content

Review and update your social media profiles, including adding a professional photo. Hide or delete any material which is not relevant.


Review and update your social media profiles, including adding a professional photo. Hide or delete any material which is not relevant. Click To Tweet


On each profile, be sure to include a link to your website and a call to action. Alternatively, details about how clients can work with you (make it easy for them!)

Once updated, write a series of meaningful social media posts and ask for referrals from your connections to get your first client.

If you are targeting other businesses, it’s essential that you set up a LinkedIn profile if you haven’t already and a Facebook business page.

Also, start following other businesses on Facebook and Instagram who fit your target market, and join Facebook groups. Think of meaningful ways to comment on posts and like content.

RELATED: How to create an effective content marketing strategy


7. Build a professional-looking website (and traffic!)

It’s essential to present your site professionally and include high-quality photos and copy.

Also, ensure you optimise your website for Google search and set up your Google My Business listing. Make it as easy as possible for clients to find you!

Before building your website, however, think strategically about how your site fits into your marketing strategy.

While a website is essential, it is also only useful if it receives visitors.

The reality is that unless you have a heap of money, building traffic to your website takes time.

Carefully consider how much time and money you will invest initially. You can always launch an updated website in future once you’re more established.

RELATED: 15 Ways to drive traffic to your small business website

I have included a dedicated section on websites in my Ultimate Marketing Checklist. To get your free copy of my 72-point checklist simply click the button below.



8. Implement a numbers-based daily routine

Focusing on revenue-generating activities is critically important when you want to get clients.

Think about what your daily routine looks like and try adding a sales numbers-based, client-prospecting task to it.


Think about what your daily routine looks like and try adding a sales numbers-based, client-prospecting task to it. Click To Tweet


For example, I’m going to email two people every day and pitch my services on a free trial basis.

Alternatively, I’m going to add and engage with three connections on LinkedIn every day.

You can build a prospecting list by searching the directories of the groups you have joined or use LinkedIn. Use the search filters and connect with those who fit your target market.

Taking action is the only thing that is going to move you forward. And when it comes to sales, it’s a numbers game.


9. Reach out and collaborate with other businesses

The benefit of partnering with a non-competing business is that they already have a client base they can refer you to. In time, you will also be able to return the favour.

Think carefully about what value you could offer their clients and how you could pitch this to be a guest blog or a podcast interview.

Also, ask if there is anything that you can do to help them with their business. Relationships grow and become stronger by helping each other.


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10. Connect with competitors and explore opportunities

You may be surprised to see this on a list for how to get clients!

However, if you are selective and connect with other successful providers in your industry, you may uncover referral opportunities.

Your competitors are likely to receive enquiries that are just not a good fit for their business. Alternatively, they may be too busy to take on new clients.

However, rather than saying sorry I can’t help you, they would prefer to be able to refer them to someone who is a good fit.

So, this is where you come in!


11. Browse industry-specific or freelance job sites

Select the sites which are most relevant to your industry and create a profile or automated email alert on each.

Applying for advertised opportunities will give you a chance to practice pitching your business and crafting your offer.

Short-term projects can sometimes lead to a much longer pipeline of work and provide you with introductions to more people who could refer you.

At the very least you will increase your visibility, and even if that job is not a good fit, there may be another opportunity in the future.


12. Work out what you want to say and start writing

If you’re a service-based business, then writing is a great way to build your credibility and get your first client.


If you’re a service-based business, then writing is a great way to build your credibility and get your first client. Click To Tweet


Map out a strategy for what you want to write about and set up an SEO friendly blog on your website.

In addition to your blog, you may also want to consider pitching articles to other media or guest blogging on sites that your target market visits (with a link back to your website of course!)

RELATED: How to create an effective content marketing strategy

RELATED: 8 Content creation tips for service-based small businesses


13. Find opportunities to use your voice

Speaking is a very effective way to build trust quickly and increase your credibility so you can get clients.

It’s great for raising your visibility, and it doesn’t just have to be face-to-face either.

Podcasts, online webinars, YouTube videos, and Facebook Live sessions are cost-effective ways to get your message out there.


14. Give something away for free

It could take many forms, from a free appointment or discovery call to an online course or PDF guide.

The objective is to build trust with your potential client and reduce any risks they might perceive about working with you.

Importantly, ensure you also have a follow-up sequence in place, which eventually includes an offer to purchase a paid service.

To get your first client, make sure you pitch to them while they are a hot lead!

Another alternative is to give your time for free. Charities, schools, and other not-for-profit organisations are often seeking professional help.

By volunteering, you are gaining new connections, building your portfolio and creating opportunities to gather testimonials.



15. Run an advertising campaign to get your first client

Don’t be afraid to spend money on your business.

Many people see marketing as an expense, but if you are looking to grow, then you need to think of it as an investment.


Many people see marketing as an expense, but if you are looking to grow, then you need to think of it as an investment. Click To Tweet


There are many effective ways to reach your target audience with your offer, including online and offline. However, the key is to do your research first.

Be clear on who it is that you are trying to target and focus in only a few areas. Decide what the best communication method is for your business, and don’t spread your money too thin across multiple advertising mediums which dilutes your message.

RELATED: 7 Reasons Why You Need to Do a Marketing Plan


16. Join a group, community or membership association

Not only could joining a group help you to get your first client faster, but it will also provide you with valuable business mentorship and support.

Business groups are everywhere, and it’s a matter of finding those which are right for you. There are networking groups, referral groups, and educational groups as a few examples.

Test a few out and focus on joining groups that will have the most impact on your business and allow you to develop deeper relationships.

Some ideas for groups include industry-specific associations, coworking communities, Facebook and LinkedIn groups, membership groups like She Will ShineBusiness Chicks, Meetup, and referral groups like BNI.


17. Attend a conference or networking event

Search for upcoming conferences in your area or other networking events that you know will be attended by potential clients. In Australia, Eventbrite is a site that advertises these regularly.

They provide an excellent opportunity to speak to potential clients and practice pitching your services.

You will find that the more you talk about your business, the more clarity you will have. It will shine through brighter in your sales pitch and help generate more leads.

Importantly, think about how you will stay in touch and follow up after an event.

Often, it takes several interactions with a potential client before they will be ready to buy.


18. Set up an online sales page and drive traffic to it

Online sales funnels can be very useful for lead generation and sales when implemented well.

There are several online sales page platforms that you can use to simplify the process including Leadpages and ClickFunnels.

You will also need an email autoresponder such as Convertkit, MailerLite or ActiveCampaign to set up your email sequence once someone subscribes.

Regarding driving traffic to your sales page, consider promoting an incentive (or lead magnet) via Facebook Ads, Pinterest Pins, Google Ads or your website if you have traffic going to it.

A quick piece of advice – hire a professional or educate yourself on how to advertise on your chosen platform to ensure a profitable return on your investment.

RELATED: 30 Marketing tools every service-based business should know about


19. Change your location

When first starting out, it can be most cost-effective to work from home.

However, this also limits your opportunities to meet potential clients and gain referrals.

Try visiting a coworking space for a day or two a week or consider working for part of the day from your local café.

Alternatively, set up a schedule for strategically inviting people who could help you to lunch or coffee.

To get your first client, increase your chances of generating leads by surrounding yourself and talking with other people.


To get your first client, increase your chances of generating leads by surrounding yourself and talking with other people. Click To Tweet


As I mentioned before, the sales process is a numbers game!


20. Build an email list and nurture potential clients

You may speak to potential clients at a point in time when they are just not ready to buy.

So that’s ok, but at some point, they may be ready.

Look for every opportunity to capture an email address and ask if they would like to be part of your online community.

Keep your list of leads warm by regularly emailing them with valuable tips and offers.

You never know, that right time to buy might be closer than you think.

RELATED: How to build an email list when you’re first starting out


Keep it simple and focus on going back to basics

There are several common themes in the list above on how to get clients. Firstly, it’s about keeping it simple and focusing on a back to basics approach.

Other themes include speaking about your business in a non-complex and straightforward way, connecting and building relationships with others and developing daily habits that keep you focused on your sales numbers.

When you implement these simple strategies consistently, you will be well on your way to getting your first client. But remember, don’t try to tackle them all at once. Pick the ideas that resonate with you.


apply for your free discovery call


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Hayley Robertson
Hayley Robertson
I provide marketing training, one-off marketing strategy sessions, and business coaching programs to service-based small business owners. I teach you how to successfully DIY your marketing without stress and overwhelm. Before starting my business, I spent more than 15 years working for some of Australia's largest service-based organisations and hold a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and a Bachelor of Management (Marketing). Learn more about me here.