I’m just going to say it: launching a business is hard work. Any type of business requires what’s called sweat equity: meaning, that in order to make money, you’ve got to work. There’s no way around it and there’s no easy pill you can take to make it happen. You’ve got to put the work in and if you’re hesitant or scared or looking for an easy way to launch your business - well, I’m just gonna tell you - you’re going to be pretty disappointed. And you’re probably going to fail. But when you do fail, don’t blame it on your business. It’s difficult to take a hard, close look at ourselves and accept responsibility for our failures. It’s easier to blame it on someone else or something else - anyone but ourselves.
A big struggle business owners have is finding clients. But here’s the hard truth: clients won’t know you’re out there without you letting them know you’re out there. Did you think it was going to be as easy as putting up a website and clients would be knocking down your door? Oh, bless your heart. If you’re from the American South, you’ll know the real meaning behind “bless your heart.” If not, let me save you the trouble and share it with you:
Listen, I’m okay with Googling stuff to learn new things. I’ve done it and still do it to this day. But if that’s all you’re doing and you’re not moving forward in your business - well, you’ve got a problem, don’t you? You’ll either get paralyzed because you’re bogged down with information and won’t do anything or you’ll try every idea out there and bounce around like a lottery ball, waiting to land on the winning number.
The biggest struggle I hear from new virtual assistants is how to find clients. Because, let’s be real for a minute - you don’t have much of a business without clients, do you?
What does having more clients mean?
- More $$$$$ (who doesn’t like that?)
- More offers through referrals (we’ll talk about that in a moment)
- You’ll be that go-to person
Before you set out looking for clients, you’ve got to know what you’re looking for.
Take a moment and create your ideal avatar. What does that like and why should you do this? Figuring out your ideal client helps you:
Determine which social platforms your clients are spending time on so you know where you should be active.
Write copy that connects with your business avatar, which will give you a better understanding of your potential client’s pain points, goals, and successes
Deliver and develop better products and services because you are able to anticipate your their needs, behaviors, and concerns.
Briefly, your client avatar means fleshing out what your ideal client looks like and their attributes: what is their age, sex, income level? What types of things do they like? For example, my ideal client is a female, age 25 and older who makes less than $25,000 per year. Their interests include reading, spending time with their family and thrift store shopping. What does that tell me and how does this information help me? Well, when I create products and services, I know that my clients may have limited resources to plunk down on a high-priced course but they love to learn. So I price my services and products accordingly.
If you can’t afford coaching right now and you’ve got to go the free route, here are some free ways to find clients. Remember: these methods will take time to cultivate relationships and see returns. Don’t get discouraged if things don’t happen as quickly as you’d like, okay? Stick with it and don’t give up. Here we go:
Facebook groups contain nuggets of gold but you’ve got to get in there and introduce yourself first. Would you just barge into someone else’s home without introducing yourself? I didn’t think so! So don’t do it Facebook groups, ok? Jerry may not have said anything to Kramer about barging in but I’m pretty sure it got on his nerves.
Share who you are, a few personal tidbits about yourself and what you hope to bring to the group. Refrain from links, if at all possible. Folks who are really interested to learn more about you will go to your Facebook profile and click your link there. You do have a link to your business in your personal Facebook profile, don’t you? If not, fix that - stat! Here’s how:
Regina, seriously - how can I get clients by blogging?
Blogging is a great way to show your expertise. Clients want to know that you know what you're talking about.
Starting a blog does require an investment and if you're ready to go that route, I'd highly suggest grabbing a copy of Suzi's blogging book. It will walk you through launching a blog, step by step.
But if you can't afford to launch a blog right now, try guest posting. Reach out to blogs that might need your help and ask if they are taking guest posts. Write a bomb-diggity blog post that shows what you know, submit it and then share it. When you submit a proposal, don't forget to include a link to the blog post.
Here's the thing with collaborating: it requires getting close to your so-called competition. The deal is not everyone can do everything. Let's say designing Wordpress sites is your jam and a veteran virtual assistant you admire doesn't offer Wordpress design. Approach them and ask if they would like to collaborate - they promote your Wordpress design and your promote their services. Don't be afraid of your competition. Collaborating is a way to get in front of their prospects and that could bring your dream client.
Get out and network
Even the introvert in me recommends getting out once in a while and networking. Arm yourself with some business cards and head off to a local Chamber of Commerce meeting. Or find a group on Meetup and mingle. Practice what you'll say before you head out and if you need help perfecting your elevator pitch, this video should help:
Ask for referrals
Have you done work for someone in the past, either paid or unpaid? Did you ask for a referral? No?
When is the last time you actually said to a current or past client, “Do you know anyone who would benefit from my services? Could you give me a referral?”
Chances are you’ve never said it. It’s the kind of thing we don’t naturally think about doing, or if we do think about it, it makes us more than a little uncomfortable.
And if you’re saying to yourself, “I do ask! It’s on the bottom of every invoice/in my email autoresponder/on my business card!” Stop right there.
That’s just not enough. I know, sales make you feel weird. Totally get it but part of what you do as a business person is selling. And if you’re struggling with what to say when asking for a referral, download a copy of my swipe file that includes a referral script.
Let me know if this helps you find new clients of if something else has worked for you, I'd love to hear about it. Feel free to share that in the comments. Until next time!