Method: Getting Your First Customer

 

The most important thing in business is to get your first customer. 

Here we will discuss a simple way to do this.

If independence, not riches, is your first goal (the riches can come later), then this method is for you.

If you’re looking to be the next startup whiz kid, you may need to keep looking. 

In this article, I describe a simple (not easy) method for getting customer #1.

This business’s purpose is to feed you. That’s my assumption. So I based all my advice on that. My figuring is that if it feeds you, you can then move on to bigger and better things.

SO HERE WE GO: 

  1. Make your idea specific
  2. Clarify for yourself what the idea should do for YOU.
  3. Create a simple offer – AKA, what are you selling?

For the people who ask “WHY?”, here’s why:

  1. Vague things don’t sell. If people can’t understand it, they can’t buy it, nor can they refer you (this is huge! You need referrals to survive).
  2. Should this idea make you rich? Fulfill your desire to be independent? Let you run a website? If you don’t know what it’s doing for you, you will not be able to make good decisions about how to modify it.
  3. If you don’t create a clear offer to sell a service or product and deliver it, then you can never really get a customer. Customers BUY. I see too many people working with “customers” who haven’t paid them anything and never will. It’s easy to get people’s business, it’s HARD to get their MONEY.

It’s easy to get people’s business, it’s HARD to get their MONEY. 

THEN ASK PEOPLE TO BUY IT: 

  1. Go to your target market and offer them the offer
  2. Listen to their feedback and adapt your idea, always keeping in mind what it must to for you to be successful.
  3. Adjust the offer and keep moving.

People can’t buy something you haven’t offered them.

SPOILER ALERT:  Someone will say YES.

Once you get the first customer, YOUR FOCUS MUST BE ON SERVICE. You will learn so much from this first customer. Keep in mind you may lose them. Don’t let it crush you. It’s not about their money, it’s about your learning.

Not until you get a few of them can you really understand the similarities between them and what your business really should be.

I’ll say it a different way:

Ingredients for success:

  1. A specific idea (If you can’t answer “WHO” it’s for, then it’s not specific enough)
  2. A plan B
  3. An offer (Price, Benefit, Commitment)
  4. Action and refinement.

This method does three things: 

  1. Keeps you from analysis paralysis.
  2. Tests whether your market will buy your product/service before you spend tons of time building something.
  3. Keeps you adaptable, so that you can keep going if your Plan A is wrong (it probably will be at least slightly wrong).

Things you don’t need at first: 

  1. A website (unless it’s a super simple 1 page kick out from something like WIX or square space… it better not take you more than an hour to make)
  2. Business cards.
  3. A product (You need a CAPABILITY… but not necessarily a finished product, there’s a difference that can be elaborated on later)
  4. Patents
  5. Copyrights
  6. Incorporation

That’s it. This can be built on more, but this is my rough thoughts for a Friday afternoon. 

Get out there and get after it!

 

 

Good Advice Sounds Harsh to the Ear

“You just need to do your homework.”

Didn’t you hate that advice when you were a kid?

But, it was true. All you needed to do to get better grades, was do your homework.

That simple act, will give you the right habits to succeed.

As an adult, when you are struggling with something and someone gives you advice that feels annoying, ask yourself this question:

“What if they are right?”

As if, what if they are right, then what would I do?

Basically, instead of spending a ton of time trying to figure out if they are right or not, how would you apply their advice?

So here is mine about pursuing a business idea:

“Work on it a little each day, and let it change.”

If that sounds weird, annoying, or too easy, why don’t you try giving it a shot and see what happens?

What have you got to lose?

Start businesses like Forrest Gump

An IQ of 75, and he became wealthy and lived happily.

If you don’t know the story, read the IMDb page here. But really, do yourself a favor and go watch the movie from 1994.

Forrest was a “stupid” man, but he always did the following things right:

  1. He took action
  2. He did his best
  3. He didn’t quit
  4. Never focused on the results, only the action.

Let’s not complicate it. To start businesses like Forrest, you just take action. You don’t have much more than a rough idea of what you are doing.

Here are some of Forrest’s great ideas.

  • I’m going to be a shrimping boat captain. (This is the most complicated one, but really this idea was Bubba’s)
    • Started a shrimping empire.
  • I’m going to go running.
    • Started a movement
  • I’m gonna play ping pong
    • Became a professional and got endorsement deals

I understand that it’s a movie, and ultimately not real. But what makes it so entertaining and lovable is that the principles it shows in action are very very real. And they are timeless.

Let’s look at a couple of real-world examples of the principle.

Nintendo

The video game maker started much earlier than its 1966 video game debut and was creating playing cards, vacuum cleaners, instant rice, a taxi company and even a short-stay hotel chain. It wasn’t until much later that Nintendo started producing video games and consoles, which gained wide popularity over the following 30 years. They were already hustling well before they became famous.

Forrest Gump Idea: I’m gonna sell playing cards – Now: Video games

Instagram

Instagram started as Burbn, a check-in app that included gaming elements from Mafia Wars, and a photo element as well. They weren’t gaining traction as Burbn because it had too much clutter and potential actions. So they took a risk and stripped out everything but… photos. They rebuilt it to focus exclusively on photography. It was clean and simple, and… you know the rest.

Forrest Gump Idea: We’re gonna build an app – Now: We are the most popular photo app on iPhone

To drive the point home, take the opposite of the Forrest approach to starting a business and see what this sounds like.

  1. Hesitate to take action until things are clear
  2. Do only the minimum
  3. Quit when things don’t go your way
  4. Focus hard on the results instead of the work

Does this sound like success? Of course not.

The wonderful thing is, you don’t have to succeed. Honestly, that’s not the goal. You just need to develop the habits of:

  1. Taking action.
  2. Doing your best.
  3. Perseverance.
  4. Focusing on the work instead of the results.

Think you can do it? I know you can.

 

Making Your Business Ideas More Likely to Succeed

How? – Be specific about the problem it solves

SPECIFICadjective – clearly defined or identified.

So, you clearly define the business problem. But it’s OK to start with clearly defining your solution if that is how you are thinking about it.

This makes it easy to explain it and easy to understand it.

A good rule of thumb at this point:

If it’s not stupidly easy to know who your target customer could be, then you need to make your idea MORE specific.

Take out any AND or OR or WITH statements from your idea.

So:

“An app for people with kids and dogs who feel stressed out and need a break”

Becomes:

“An app for parents looking for kid-free hangout opportunities”

Being specific makes it easier for people to understand what you do and give you referrals.

 

Example: This post title. 

Making the subject of this post specific was hard for me. I rewrote it more times than I could count. Well, that’s not true. It was about 10.

The first time was short, it was just “Be Specific”.

But that didn’t seem very specific at all.

So then I tried, “Make Your Ideas Specific”.

But then I said to myself “Ideas about what?”

It forced me to become very clear on what this article is about. I figured what most people would be looking for is advice about business ideas.

After I wrote all about specifics, I realized the point was being specific about the problem, but the problem the user was trying to solve was making their business ideas more likely to succeed. So that was the final rewrite.

Now, if you didn’t make your idea a “Problem statement”, do that now.

So our early idea goes from (Idea/Solution): 

“An app for parents looking for kid-free hangout opportunities”

To: (Reframed as a problem)

“Parents of small children are starved for time with people who share their interests.”

See what we did there? 

That’s all we got for today. Remember, make your ideas specific enough for you to be able to find people to test it with. In our case above, we are looking for parents with small children. If you can’t think of people, your idea sucks.