You've got a great idea for a business or product. You've spent a lot of time on a really cool website and marketing materials. You created the perfect logo, set up your social media, and even put together your "kick ass" business plan.
Awesome. You spent countless effort, time, and resources, and you've sold nothing.
You don't have a business yet. You have a lot of potentially wasted time and money.
There is only one thing that matters to make a viable business - that first customer willing to pay their hard earned money for whatever it is you are selling. You don't have a business until you sell something.
Many entrepreneurs forget this and get all excited about the idea and creating everything they think the business needs, except for the most important thing - the lifeblood of the business success, the first sale.
Instead of spending all of the time building the perfect website and creating the marketing materials and website, what if you just focused on your first sale? What if you focused on making sure your product or service can sell and that you have a customer for it? You can create the amazing business plan and marketing materials later.
If you are getting started in business or have an idea for a product or solution, there is only one place to focus, the first sale.
Most people make selling more complicated that it has to be. It is the most innate ability we have as humans. From the moment we are born, we are selling ourselves. And throughout life we continue to do so, whether it is in a job interview, to the one we love, or to get someone to buy into an idea or mission. Sales is a major part of life - embrace it and get rid of any stereotypes or negative connotations about it, because your business cannot survive if you cannot sell.
So, what if you are just starting out? How do you get your first customer?
First, get to where you have an MVP, a minimum viable product or service. This is where your product or service at least works and can deliver a result. Don't worry about it being perfect or having all of the things you want it to have. Just make sure it provides to give core solution it was designed to deliver. For example, if you have created a piece of software to help people better track their spending, make sure the core logic works - don't worry about how good the interface is or if it has all the extras. How much has Google's interface really changed from when they launched? Not much. Simple is good as long as it works.
Second, once you have your MVP, ask yourself who you ideal customer is. Get a good idea of who they are, what they want, their fears, and the things that make them act, or in this case buy. Once you know who they are, focus solely on talking to every person you can find that fits the category. You will want to have
3 big reasons why they should try your product. That's it. There are probably 50 reasons you can put down as to why they need it, but with the short attention span of people, pick the top 3 biggest ones and get them to buy using only those, because that is about all they will remember.
If you talk to 100 people, you will get at least 1 first adopter customer, if not more. And, yes you need to charge them for the product or service. You are putting your heart and soul into this thing - and that is worth something. Don't devalue yourself and set the precedent that you aren't worth anything. I'm not saying you can't offer special pricing to your first adopters to get them aboard. By all means, you should. They are taking a chance on you and should be rewarded because they will be your references and early evangelists. Just make sure you charge something.
Third, once you've got one customer, get some feedback, and use that to get your next 5-10 customers. Now, you are in business. You can then start to gather ideas and feedback from the group to make sure you are finalizing the product in a way that gives the market what THEY want. You'll be amazed at how something you thought that customers want is not that important to them and something you thought was not a big deal is the biggest thing they want. Be careful not to build the product you want, but the one your market wants. That is why getting customers in the MVP stage is so important. It is the stepping stone to get you to your finished product using the ideal customers as the vehicle.
Be careful not to build the product you want, but the one your market wants...
Lastly, once you have your first 10 or so customers and have gotten good feedback and ideas on how to finalize the product, you can then put efforts into your marketing, website, and redo that business plan based on real information. Then, as it is for the entrepreneur, you keep going, keep selling, make adjustments, learn as you go, bust through barriers, and make your dream a reality.
You were born to sell. But always remember, as Zig Ziglar said, "Selling is not something you DO to someone. It's something you do FOR someone." Your goal should always be to solve problems and help people/businesses with your solution. No, go out and help the world with your dream!