Every new business owner wants to gain business, yet most do not have the right perception on how to gain business the right way. Oftentimes, our ego prevents us from fostering the proper relationships that will allow us to build a strong foundation that we can grow on. You need to drop your ego and provide value first.
In this article I will share a 5-step framework that you can replicate in your own life and business in order to gain your first clients and then grow with those clients as you scale to a 6 or 7-figure business.
The biggest pitfall with new business owners is that they over-price themselves because they are thinking short-term instead of realizing that the delayed gratification and long-term perspective is what they need to grow the business that they envision.
For example, David Zhao, serial entrepreneur and rising millennial leader, is a great example of someone who started from nothing and has built a networth of over $10 million dollars at the age of 23 by dropping his ego and providing value first, for less.
Here’s the secret that no one is telling you:Work for free. Execute. Get case studies. Leverage case studies for new business referrals. Then charge full price. Most people do not tell you that it’s okay to work for free early on because they do not understand the long-term perspective of business.
You are not going to work for free forever
When you are just starting out you NEED to get wins under your belt and there is no better way to do this than by providing value to your ideal customer for less than your normal price. Think long term and realize how much more money you can bring in once you’ve successfully helped your first clients.
For example, when David Zhao started his business between the ages of 15-17, he helped his teachers and local clinics with their websites. In fact, his first client was his Orthodontist whom he only charged $200 dollars for a website that could have easily been worth 5x that amount.
David continued to create websites for small to medium-sized businesses and leveraged his Chinese roots to connect with Chinese business owners who were not great at speaking English because he realized he could provide a lot of value to these people.
You need to identify who you can provide the most value to. Once you identify them you can approach them with an offer that makes sense.
You’ll see immediate growth and traction in your business by implementing this 5-step framework:
1. Give first
Find someone in your niche and in your hot/warm market because the cold market is too distant with no foundation. Focus on Win-Win situations. In this case, doing work for cheaper allows you to build your credibility and get some wins under your belt.
Do not be greedy early on because that distracts you from the mission of completing the work so that you can gain a new client. David used this principle to raise his first investment fund of $5 million dollars.
For example, for the first couple of investors in his fund he did not charge any management fees. Other people may have charged a management fee + 20% – 30%, but instead David charged less in order to provide more value and get himself the opportunity.
Because his bigger goal is to raise a $100 million fund, this initial $5 million fund is just a stepping stone. What are the stepping stones you need to take to get where you want to go? Do not prevent yourself from getting the opportunity by overcharging. Think about what you are willing to give.
“I believe that you can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
3. Execute on your product or service
Executing and providing great work is the most important part of the equation. If you don’t execute then there is no way you can build relationships and scale. Trust is built once you complete the things you say you can do. Your reputation is built around your work. Be open-minded with no ego and always ask for feedback.
Remember, you are leveraging these early clients to close higher ticket clients later on. Therefore, it’s in your benefit to ask for as much feedback as possible to ensure they have the best experience that you can leverage for new business later on. Always underpromise and overdeliver. Become so useful that you will get paid your full value later.
4. Gain referrals and case studies
After you’ve executed, it’s time to turn the experience into a case study and ask for a referral. Simply asking goes a long way. David was able to use this strategy to become one of the first members in Yelp’s marketing partnership program. Initially, David offered his time for free to build Yelp’s partnership program. He would go in to help the team for 20-30 hours a week, for free.
During this time he met the COO and Regional Account Executive and built a relationship with them. Obviously, these people are usually pretty difficult to get in contact with, yet because David provided value first, he was able to get passed any gatekeepers and build a direct relationship with them. His 7-figure digital marketing agency, NXT Factor, became the first NY agency partner of Yelp. Now he has spent $1 million+ in ad spend for his clients by wholesaling Yelp marketing.
“One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.” – Jim Rohn
5. Use case studies to gain new credibility and leverage for new business
After you see success, you need to have a plan on how to use the case study to attract new business. Most business owners think that referrals just come. This is not true.
As Dan Kennedy and Shaun Buck state in their book “No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention”, you need to have this system set in place. David has been able to leverage his past successes with his early clients to work with brands like Google, Apple, PayPal, Amex, Visa, Blade, and JetSmarter.
Using this framework will bring you new business and allow you to scale to the next level. Stop making things harder for yourself by seeing things short-term and instead change to a long-term perspective in your business. Give more than you take and focus on building relationships. Execute on your work and use the case studies to attract new business and referrals. You can do it.