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How do I build a client base? Any ideas?

By juscelinoacevedo ·
Hello All,

To make a long story short, I currenty have a decent job that pays okay with a nice title of Assistant Director, which has taken me 5 years to reach. However, due to the fact that the company I work for is not great when it comes to compensation I decided to start my own business (http://www.jma-tech.com).

Here's the problem, I have no clue as to what to do to build a client base. Another fact that does not help is that I really do not have much money to put towards the business because we all have bills to pay at home. As you can safely assume, noone know about my company and would probably not believe that I can actually help them, because I have no references.

Can anyone suggest ANYTHING that would be helpful in letting small businesses in my target area know that I know what I'm doing and can help them without spending money that I do not have? I know it sounds like I'm being cheap, but it's just the reality of my situation. Thanks in advance...

(Sorry, I thought it was going to be a short story...)

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possibly think like a salesman and sell yourself

by UncleRob In reply to How do I build a client b ...

business cards, flyers, mail, faxes, email, cold calls or walk-ins, visit all of the local businesses you think could use your services and ask to speak with someone in mgmt and discuss what you can offer. This definitely isn't an automatic process and you probably will get what you put into it so you need to work hard at this. I checked out your website, it looks pretty good but the pricing page doesn't have any prices quoted whatsoever that I can find. It's always a stickler for me when I click on a page expecting to see rates and nothing of the sort is actually listed. Find out what the competition is charging for these services and then come up with competitive pricing and state the pricing on your site - don't expect someone to call you to determine rates, they simply won't bother. Include the work that your doing at the current company as a reference.

I have a full-time gig that employs me but I have a part-time website development biz on the side that has helped pay some bills, it's nice to have both, it would be great to just have my website biz but that's just not feasible right now.

It's a lot of work, I hope everything works out well for you in the end, good luck!

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Pricing...

by juscelinoacevedo In reply to possibly think like a sal ...

Thanks for the advice, specifically with pricing on my website. I actually had pricing on the site before and honestly cannot remember the reason for removing them. However, I know that I had to do a lot of thinking to do upon deciding whether to leave pricing on the page.

I see your point though and I will definitely consider putting it back. Thanks.

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Pricing On Website

by FirstPeter In reply to Pricing...

I would not put pricing on the web site for two reasons. First, if you put a lower price on the site (say, $35/hour because you want to break in to the market) it will be harder to raise rates to market level later on AND you will likely lose some clients because they look at $35 and say "what am I really getting for that rate?" - and they never call.

If your rate is market rate (say, $75/hour) you'll lose clients because they don't see value in what you're doing because they don't know what value you can provide them, specifically.

This is why you want to make contact with them before you talk price - understand their situation, understand what value you can provide, and THEN tell them how much of an investment they'll need to make to recognize these great savings.

I would bet that most of your customers will NOT be generated from the web, anyway - your potential clients around town will only use your website as a "are they a legitimate, professional business" guide.

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Pricing On Website

by juscelinoacevedo In reply to Pricing On Website

Good point, maybe I'll stick to my original decision of not displaying the prices on the website.

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On the contrary

by Oz_Media In reply to possibly think like a sal ...

VERY accurate comments on driving your business and selling it the hard way, but I don't really agree on teh pricing issue.

I have yet to see a corporation, that provides a similar service, advertise rates online.

It is always "call for a quotation". When dealing with companies, everyone pays a different price. Multiple locations, ongoing work etc will usually constitute price breaks, even bartering services back and forth. I have built more than 60 websites for medium to large sized corporations and not one has wanted pricing online and I have never had customer feedback to say there should be pricing available. People seem to expect to call for a quotation.

You CAN give a rate example,or special price for a service, but other than that, I wouldn't bother. A fixed rate is not an indicator of a good company to DEAL with, I would rather have a rate customized for my needs than pay sticker price.

Only the laziest bastards wouldn't be bothered to call and get the best price......oh....sorry bout that. :^O

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SCORE

by FirstPeter In reply to How do I build a client b ...

First, pray. I'm not being fecitious here, either. Think of it this way - it certainly can't hurt, right?

Second, go to www.SCORE.org. Service Corps Of Retired Executives (I think that's what it stands for). These are folks that are willing to help you get started.

Third, NETWORK. Go to Chamber of Commerce meetings, talk to friends, meet people in the bathroom (http://blogs.ittoolbox.com/pm/career/archives/004382.asp) - whatever. You want to get your name and face out there to let folks know what you do. Not just your potential clients, but also other professionals that could use your services for their clients (partnership agreements).

Fourth, read through "Getting Business To Come To You" (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/087477845X/002-3110296-8415236?v=glance). A great (BIG) book on ways to handle marketing with or without a lot of money. It's a pretty good sized book, but you can just read the chapters that pertain to you.

That's my two cents...

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SCORE...

by juscelinoacevedo In reply to SCORE

Thanks for the links, I will definitely check them out. On the SCORE advice, I do have a SCORE counselor, however, I guess I'm not asking the right questions, because I'm getting better answers from you guys.

I'll get back to you after checking out the links. Thanks.

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by antuck In reply to How do I build a client b ...

Welcome to the club. Starting a new business is hard. Especially how to build a client base. As was stated mailers, brochures, and cold calls are a great way to start. Word of mouth is also a great way to build. Tell everyone about your business you never know who needs computer work or may know someone else who needs work done. Another thing to check out is your local Chamber of Commerce. Sign up with them. Usually they will have monthly meetings with the local businesses in the area and it is a good way to promote.

I am in the same boat as you. I have recently started my out computer repair business. And I have done the above and continue. It takes time unfortunatly but once it starts rolling things get better. Your not being cheap it's reality. Things cost money to promote and it is tough when money is not in abundance. All it takes is picking up a couple of places and doing good work. Then they will tell two people and so on. Good luck getting going.

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Chamber of Commerce...

by juscelinoacevedo In reply to

The Chamber of Commerce seems to be one of the first things that everyone mentions, so I'm going to need to save some change look into it. The best thing is that at least you guys are giving me hope.

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by featherman In reply to

As previously stated, networking (mailers, brochures, business cards (especially business cards), C of C meetings, your church/synagogue/mosque/whatever if you are a religious person) are all good starting points.

I have found that (after clearance from the powers that be), letting co-workers know that I do outside work (DO NOT actively solicit outside work during work hours, and make arrangements to talk on a lunch break or after hours for those "persistant" types) has proven to be a major source of both work and referrals (ie: more work). Broaden your specialty(ies): if you are a PC/LAN type of guy, learn the Mac or Linux; specialize in Security or Messaging (or whatever) along with your general support services. Anything you can do to differentiate yourself from the "average" PC Support organization will assist you...

It ain't easy, but it's worth the effort.

Best of luck

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