Jun 20, 2017All Articles & Posts, Business & Entrepreneurship Guides

Starting a business is an exciting time. All is new and fun; there are big plans, dreams and hopes.

The early days are usually about setting up the back and front of the “shop” and waiting for the first client.

And then, crickets…

The challenge of a startup is that it usually doesn’t have much reputation. So unless the founder or ambassador is someone well-known (for something good), attracting customers can be a real challenge since it may be competing with big names and established brands in the industry.

Startups tend to compete on price (which they can usually keep low because of low overheads), or by bringing a unique angle to the service (usually by being very personal, which big companies find hard to maintain for their high volume of clients).

Having a unique angle is a great strategy, but it may not be enough at the beginning. Meanwhile, low price is certainly not a long-term strategy to aim for.

Your product or service should be priced adequately. After all, at the end of the day, you’re in business. But what some overly zealous entrepreneurs forget is that your clients need to be able to justify paying big money for your product or service.

One of the best assets of a business is its good reputation/credibility. This is what new businesses tend to lack, simply because they are the new kids on the block. So here’s an idea for you to try if you’re at that stage, particularly if you’re in a service business.

Offer your service in a limited amount (and to a selected number of people) for free, or in a way that the fee is for actual results. Don’t let them just touch it. Blow their mind away to the point that they will be willing to pay to continue, become raving fans, and will be happy to be case studies or provide testimonials.

It’s a temporary but solid solution. A couple of big names who were overjoyed with your service will undoubtedly increase your reputation.

Be honest about it. Approach a business and say “Hey, we’re new and we’re working on building our profile and reputation, and we’d love to offer you our service for free for x amount of time. All we want in exchange is an honest testimonial/feedback/to feature you as a case study/for you to recommend us, etc.”

You’re much more likely to get the “Yes”.

If someone came to me and said “Hey, I’d love to do your SEO, Adwords, app, a marketing campaign for free for a month, would you be interested?” Assuming they know what they’re doing, I’d probably go for it.

When I started my coaching business, I did the same thing. I offered 3-6 coaching sessions for free in exchange for a testimonial. Many of the free clients wanted to continue, and some of them became paying clients for over a year after. Not only that, it led to recommendations, referrals and testimonials that were building my reputation. Back then, it wasn’t a strategy for me. I just felt it was a way to get my foot in the door.

This is what I tell my protégés: If you’re new, earn your reputation.

This approach may not be realistic for many businesses – certainly not for those who have been in business for a good amount of time – but if you’re new and struggling to take your business off the ground, this is one way to do it.

Good luck.

If you need a support of a life coach, you’re always welcome to contact me and let’s find out if we’d be the right match. 




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