Who wants more customers? Great, everyone has their hands up. All right, who knows how to bring new customers through the door, virtually or physically?
Yeah, that’s what I thought. A couple of you still have your hands up, and that’s awesome. I hope you’ll share what you know in the comments section at the bottom of this article.
For the rest of us, building relationships with new customers can be a challenge. This is especially true if you’re unsure of where tomorrow’s customers are or how to get their attention. But it’s okay! The good news is that the internet has changed the game and that the game continues to change.
“Success leaves clues, and if you sow the same seeds, you’ll reap the same rewards.” – Brad Thor
To be successful in reaching new customers, as the saying goes, it’s best to study the clues left by others who are successful. Let’s take a closer look at some real-world examples.
1. Raise Capital to Fund Growth – YouTube’s $3.5 Million Milestone
Think of capital as the fuel for your entrepreneurial vehicle. Without it, you might have to get out of the car and push. It’s still possible to get from point A to point B, but you’re going to have to really want it.
YouTube’s first public milestone was “a $3.5 million investment from Sequoia Capital in November 2005, [because of which] YouTube was able to increase its bandwidth, improve its servers, and launch to the public.”
Without the injection of capital, YouTube would have been just another website competing for attention. The investment, as well as the expertise and focus of its founders (former PayPal employees Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim), allowed YouTube to start on the path to being an internet legend.
Key Point: Raise capital and put it to work improving your customer experience.
2. Legally Register and Form Your Business
Many sole-proprietors skip this step. It’s tempting to run out and sign your first client without handling the paperwork side of registering your business. But according to Graeme Donnelly, CEO and Founder of 1st Formations:
“Legally registering a business gives it legitimacy, lowers long-term operating costs and broadens the potential market a brand can reach. If a savvy new client Googles you, they need to be able to reinforce that you’re a legitimate business. If you fail to register, and you’re caught operating without the necessary paperwork, you could face fines or penalties that drive-up operating costs. And, for B2B entities, without a properly registered company, you will not be able to get your foot in the door with major businesses. Everyone does background checks on vendors and suppliers these days. Proper registration is the right thing to do, both ethically and financially.”
Key Point: Meet with an experienced accountant and tax attorney to decide on the best formation for your business. You’ll gain credibility and be able to take advantage of potential tax benefits, preserving capital for customer-facing concerns.
3. Create a Strong Web Presence
If you want to get the attention of customers, you need to be accessible. Part of that is creating a strong web presence: website, social media, online videos, paid advertising—the works! If you only exist offline, you’re non-existent in the digital age.
This idea shouldn’t be a novel concept. In the age of smartphones and Facebook, it’s unbelievable how many businesses fail to invest in digital publicity. Some reports estimate that as many as 60% of small businesses have little to no online presence.
Key Point: Invest time and resources into crafting an online presence. Do the research to understand what your target audience is looking for, and provide it for them. Connect, inspire and digitally close the sale.
The perfect time to take action on a focused set of goals to increase brand awareness was yesterday. Seriously, get moving. Dive in and learn about what it is your customers want.
Solve the problem, combine expertise with capital, and take action to reach new corners of the market. If you have a strong competitive advantage and the tenacity to see the process through, there’s no reason you can’t become a successful entrepreneur.
The reality of life as an entrepreneur isn’t pretty sometimes, but hang in there and keep learning. Apply what you learn to your business and you’ll evolve. I’ve been there. It’s a grind, and only the toughest survive.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes, courtesy of Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”