How to find the first paying client in your business

How to find the first paying client in your business

A couple of years ago, I signed my very first paying coaching client. It was about a year after I’d started my coaching business (on the side of my full-time corporate career). I’d already worked with about half a dozen or more ‘‘pro-bono” clients to develop my confidence, gain coaching experience, and establish whether it was in fact a business that I truly wanted to create. (Side note: I absolutely love coaching, and decided that it IS a business that I wanted to create!).

Signing that first paying client was one of the most exciting moments of my life, because it meant that I wasn’t ‘playing’ at business any more - it wasn’t just a hobby or an interest for me.

It was something that I’d personally created and brought to life; something that would support and benefit other people; provide me with purpose and meaning; and ultimately, freedom as to how I spend my time every single day.

What’s more - if I could sign one client, then I learnt that I could sign many.

And I know that this is exactly what you can do too.

How to find your first paying client

  1. Authenticity matters more than perfection

    We often overcomplicate things when it comes to starting a business. (I still do it to this day, and have to continually return to simplicity!). The pursuit of perfection is real - particularly when it’s our own name and brand behind it. But perfection doesn’t matter - what matters is authenticity. If you have a message or product that you believe in, that will help or provide value for others just as it would help or provide value to you, and you are offering this to the world, there will be someone that identifies with it and seeks what you have to offer.

  2. Communicate your authentic message in a way that will help add value or solve a problem

    Rather than say, “Coaching for people that don’t like their careers”, how about “Coaching for people that want to begin their ideal career”? You can see that it’s exactly the same message - but it’s positioned in a way that will help people to solve a problem and add value to their lives (and careers), rather than focusing on the issue.

  3. Get in front of your target audience

    There’s a lot of ways to get in front of your target audience (aka marketing - not as scary as it sounds!), but one of my favourites to start off is in person. By meeting with potential clients straight away you will refine your product or message before taking it to more people online (or in person). You don’t even need a website at this stage - you simply need a service or a product and you need some feedback as to whether it’s what people would actually pay for. Think of money as energy, or transferring value - it’s simply something that someone exchanges to receive something else of value to them.

  4. Make your target audience an offer to purchase

    This is the step that I overcomplicated so much to start with. The fact is, that if you’re providing something of value to others then an exchange of energy in the form of payment is required. Would you go to the bakery and expect free bread, or go to the movies and ask to see it for free? I doubt it! Yet so many of us stress about charging for our products or our services - particularly when we start out (me included). We doubt our value because we doubt ourselves, and worry that we’re not enough - good enough, smart enough, business savvy enough, successful enough, or whatever enough. Of course, there’s a place for gaining experience. (I worked with half a dozen or more pro-bono clients, helping them to achieve incredible results in their careers and businesses, before working with paying clients). But once we’ve got the experience, or we know that the product works, then it’s time to present it to the world.

  5. Give it a few months - or more

    We’re primed in today’s society to receive instant gratification. Want a pair of shoes? Click, click, buy. Done. Feeling lonely? Click, click - we’re instantly surrounded by thousands of people on social media. Endlessly scrolling through a sea of people. But the things that are worth it take time, energy, and commitment. You can’t write a few blog posts and expect to magically have a big audience and a successful website. (Unless you’re already well-known or famous, of course!). You can’t have a successful business off the back of a few social media posts.

    I have found that it takes a few months of consistent effort in your business to generate results. This doesn’t mean that those months are wasted - rather it’s a time of building consistency and trust with your target audience; receiving reviews and testimonials for your product or service; and developing your own business and marketing savvy in the process.

If you’re ready to launch or scale your business, schedule a complimentary 20-minute call and find out more about working with me 1:1 here.

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3 steps to refining your side hustle idea

It's not what you think that's preventing you from getting started... It's THIS

It's not what you think that's preventing you from getting started... It's THIS