You’ve assembled an awesome team, designed a fabulous product, and even found some investors to back your efforts. That’s all great! But without customers, your whole startup concept falls apart. You’ll need to find your customers, draw them in, and ultimately sell your product to them to be successful. That sounds overwhelming, but don’t be alarmed. You can acquire your first customer in just three easy steps.
1. Figure Out Who They Are
What would you like your first customers to do for you? (Hint: if you said generate revenue you’re thinking about this the wrong way.) In the beginning, it’s all about the feedback. You need a few folks to try out what you’re offering and let you know what works and what doesn’t. Everyone knows at least a handful of people who love to try new things and share their opinions. These are the early adopters you need right now.
2. Figure Out Where They Are
Now that you know who you’re looking for, it’s time to go out and get them. This is the part where you get to share your business idea with as many people as possible. Tell your friends, your family, your neighbors, your bocce ball league…you get the idea. The object is to float your concept with as many willing ears as you can in order to find the ones who are intrigued enough to help you launch and test your product. Once you find your first customer, they hold the key to your second, third and beyond. Leverage their connections to find other like-minded people who will also serve as early adopters.
3. Figure Out How to Ask
Eventually, you’re going to have to ask people to help and to buy your product. This sounds obvious, but the difference between success and failure is often as simple as asking for the sale. Once you’ve identified the people who are excited about your idea and willing to give it a go, ask them to actually do it. It’s hard and awkward at first but gets easier the more you practice. You’ll get rejected, yes, but you’ll also find those crucial few who will say yes to helping your startup take flight. Don’t worry if they are not the “dream customers” you hope to one day acquire and sell. That will come. Right now, demonstrating proof of concept and working out the bugs is what you’re after.
Finding your first customer is a hard but necessary step toward launching a successful startup. Some would say the first customer struggle is a rite of passage for first-time startup founders who are learning how to make the ask.