In the first article in this short series we looked at ways in which you could build up business for your start-up before you even open the doors. Getting this part of your preparation right means that you have a steady stream of revenue in the early days of operations, which means that you’re much better prepared for the rough-and-tumble of the first 2 to 3 years of business life.
There is one truly powerful way of building up business quickly as a start-up. This involves working with local partners to share business and also get a foothold in the local business economy. With this method you’re going to approach local businesses that can offer you customers from their own customer base. It works because you’re not stealing business from these people, but are instead piggybacking on top of their business, providing extra value to their customers. As a start-up you should have a clear profile of your ideal customer. This means you have to know what type of person will buy your product or service, including their background and their interests. If you don’t, now is the time to work it all out. Take a piece of paper and write a full and complete description of the very best customer you could have. Who serves that customer?
You need to then look around local companies and see if they serve that particular type of customer. If they do then they are a perfect prospective partner for your startup. Draft a letter explaining some special offers you will give those perfect customers, and then hit those prospective partners with the one way in which it will benefit them.
You see, these prospective business partners have high quality customers that they have worked hard to acquire. You need to show them a killer reason why you want to have access to their customers, and the only way that you can do this is by offering them something valuable, and for free.
So if you sell portrait-painting services and you have found a prospective business partner that has the perfect customers for you, offer a free portrait painting to the first ten customers that sign up through the other business. This way you are allowing the other business to offer something of considerable value to their own customers, at no cost to them. This builds customer loyalty for that other business and also brings you massive exposure.
Consider creating a letter that you can have put onto the other company’s headed paper, and that can be sent out to the huge customer base they have. You may find that the company is happy to include the letter as part of their regular mailing. This means free access to a wide customer base, when you yourself don’t actually have any customers. It is incredibly powerful and really helps to build up a huge customer base before you are even ready to start selling yourself.