Advice for a start up – the customer comes first

Michelle set up her business as an online florist in 2015. She commissioned a website design company to build her a beautiful website to showcase her beautiful bouquets. She already had a few regular customers, friends mainly, and family. But she had big plans. She hoped to quadruple her profits by the same time the following year. She wanted to get everything just right; her brand, her values, her message. Michelle spent hours everyday polishing her new website and making it pretty.

Then she sat back and waited. And waited. But nothing happened. No one got in touch. No one sought her out. No one asked her about her business.

When you are trying to build your business. Before you even think about spending time trying to refine it, always start building your client list first, because without an audience, you’re not going to sell anything to anyone. Because there is no one there to sell it to.

There are probably hundreds or thousands of businesses that do what you do, in the same way as you do it, all competing for eye time on the web. So, the sooner you start attracting customers to your business, the better. Otherwise you’ll be selling to no-one. I’ve learned this the hard way. I was so concerned with getting my website looking pretty, getting lots of content on there that I then realised that no one was going to see it. I’d not given a thought to my customers.

So, what do you do to get attention and build an audience?

Do you have a social media presence? Are you creating high quality content and sharing it on social media? Are you interacting with other businesses and sharing their content so that they may reciprocate? Are you making contacts through networking on and offline? Use blogs, videos, audios, give talks online and offline, be active in Facebook groups, LinkedIn group and spread the word of who you are and what you offer. Get people on a mailing list and send out regular newsletters. Stay on top of your industry, stay relevant, learn new things, develop new skills and solve problems. Become an expert and showcase that knowledge.

By all means, make your website beautiful but make your audience a priority and do not assume people will come looking for you.

Do whatever it takes to get their attention and then double it! Ed Sheeran once said in an interview that to get successful in the music business, he studied other artists’ schedules, and then he doubled their efforts. This is what you need to do to get an audience to pay attention to your business, no matter the industry. So that when your product or service is ready, your audience is waiting and you can hit the ground running. Otherwise you may just be sitting around twiddling your thumbs.

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