We need to talk about your business. Not to be too crass, yet part of the formula for a successful business looks like this: Clients = Money
You need clients because you need money, because you want freedom to do things for yourself and others, both personally and professionally, which means you need to do something about that. About the getting of clients. That thing that’s easy to say, that you’re “supposed” to do, yet is easy to ignore. But. Something. Is. Always. (Seemingly) More. Urgent.
The cat needs to be let out. The baby is crying. Your email inbox has exploded in a mind-boggling way. The dishes are overflowing the sink. Your family is insisting you feed them. You have current clients to take care of.
How can any human be reasonably expected to do all these things and spend time getting new clients?
The bottom line is this: No Clients = No Business. No business means you have to get a jobby-job. That means the control and freedom you enjoy as a free agent is over. Your entrepreneurial ship has sailed, my friend, right into the harbor of working for the man. And I don’t think that’s what you want — at least it wasn’t last time we talked.
There is a lot of snake oil out there about how to get clients, as well as confusion, mystery, shame, and embarrassment, mixed in with a lot of “I don’t know how,” “It’s too hard,” “I’m not good at it,” and the classic “I don’t like it.” The snake oil salespeople will tell you if you use their magic formula, you’ll have all the clients you need in the next few months, and if your brain is wired the same way as the person who created the system, they’re right: you will be successful in getting clients their way. If you’re part of the 95% who don’t think like they do, however, you’ll need to find a system of your own. The good news is, it’s easier than you think.
The secret to getting clients is figuring out stuff you’re good at and that you enjoy doing. Then you look at how those can be made into a marketing strategy. You want to create intersections where you and your clients are coming together in ways that enrich you both. You offer your services… they say yes… you have more clients… you have more money… you get to do all the things money allows you to do, one of which is stay in business.
How do you figure out what you’re good at and enjoy doing? Experimentation, trial and error, getting outside of your comfort zone. Talk to your colleagues about what they’re doing that’s working. Try their methods out and see if they might fit. (Like have coffee with potential referral partners or attend networking events). Work with a mentor who can brainstorm and support you in learning what marketing strategies are best for you. (Such as authoring a blog or hosting regular events). Read books and blogs, or watch videos, about getting clients and see what sounds interesting to you, then make a list of things you’d like to try. (Maybe warm calls to people you already know or public speaking.) Pick one or two to try at a time, and keep the ones that work.
If you don’t know how to approach a certain tactic, yet you’re curious about it, you can have fun learning. (That’s how I came to use speaking as a client-getting strategy. I was not a natural born speaker, yet I was curious about it and decided to learn more.) Ultimately you’ll find one, two, maybe three methods that you like and that work. Then you use those strategies over and over.
And just like that, you’ll have a steady stream of clients.
It takes some time, curiosity and exploration, and it’s totally do-able. You’re in business because you said so. Your business needs clients and money to survive. You have the power to make that happen. You got this. Time to go show it off.