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Self Employed? How do you get new clients?

By darren ·
Hi Guys,

I've been doing this for the last two and a bit years, providing IT support from my back bedroom. I am wanting to take things to a new level and i am wondering how you guys and gals go about getting new prospects.

Do you advertise? if so where and how? how successful is it?

A lot of my customers are word of mouth and im getting new customers this way all the time. I give my customers 20 business cards and make sure they know what to do with them.

Looking forward to your replies....

Daz
www.darrenfoster.co.uk

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Word of mouth

by zlitocook In reply to Self Employed? How do you ...

Is the best way and the cheapest. It helps if you are below the going rate at least to start and be talkative if they want it. I mean tell them or show them what you are doing, I get allot of flack for this. Because if you show them how to fix some thing they may not call the next time. But it builds great customer relations and they will tell others about how good you are.
Be professional and do not walk around with your nose in the air, more contractors are not called back because the customer feels like the contractor thinks they are better then them.
Make friends and chat with them.

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You got it

by tcspwa In reply to Word of mouth

I couldn't agree more.
Start with letter drops or any way you can to get your name out there.
But your reputation is all you got.
Build it up and don't mess with it. I've not advertised for 3 years and word of mouth keeps me going. Be friendly, talk to them, 'translate' for them where needed and hang in there.

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..be careful competing on price...

by ProjectCoach In reply to Word of mouth

Word of mouth and telling them how good you are are good strategies - but be careful competing solely on price - some people don't quibble on price. They equate high price with high quality and vice versa.

If you compete on price, what message could you be sending to potential customers? If you don't value your services, how do you espect your customers to? "I don't think I'm as good as Joe down the road, so I charge you less." "I'm a beginner so I charge less while I learn on your job" Not the message you want your customers to get.

It can be difficult to increase prices once you have established a lower rate for the job.

If you compete on price, you risk attracting only those customers who base their buying decisions on price. I'd like to have at least some of those who buy on quality.

(If everyone bought on price, we'd all be driving Skodas - some folk want a Porsche - and are prepared to pay for it)

So be talkative, find out about customer needs before quoting a price first (as I'm sure you do anyay) - Convince them that you are the best person for the job and price becomes less of an issue.

One way to move to the next level may be t attract more customers - another may be to attract different customers.

Of course you may be unlucky and be in a very price sensitive market - but a lot of markets may be less price sensitive than you think. It's always a judgement call - part of the joy of being self employed.

If you are interested in a bit more about what could get people to buy, can I recommend "Influence" by Psychologist Robert Cialdini. Readable and should prompt some thoughts.

Your 20 business cards strategy shows you know the power of referrals and are open to different strategies - Always a good sign.

Good Luck in your business.

Neil Chambers
ProjectCoach.com
Bristol, England

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At least be sensitive to the competition

by rsimanski In reply to ..be careful competing on ...

I agree that we should compete on value and service rather than just price. However, we must at least be aware of our competition and what they are charging. This is particularly true for those of us who specialize in supporting home and home-office users.

In the Washington, DC area, my colleagues and I are facing competition from Geek Squad, Geeks on Call, and online support services. Many of these companies charge flat, fixed prices that would be hard for us to match. They can do this because they pay their people very poorly, but the customer doesn't know this.

We also have to be aware of the fact that with many companies, including Dell, selling sub-$500 PCs, many of our clients and potential clients are buying new PCs instead of getting their existing ones fixed.

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advice

by silvergreen In reply to Self Employed? How do you ...

Hi Darren.

I recommend you research a marketing technique known as viral marketing. If anything, it's good knowledge to have. The techniques are low cost and could yield good results.

Here are some other methods or techniques you can apply to market right away (taken from: Marketing Your Consulting Services - by Elaine Biech)

Fast Fourteen to Do Today
1. Print mailing labels for fourteen of your best clients; then purchase fourteen
appropriate (funny, thank you, thinking of you) cards from your local card
shop.Write a sentence or two in each and mail them off.
2. Find a great article in a recent business magazine issue. Purchase fourteen
copies of the magazine and mark the article with a Post-it? and a note from
you. Send it to fourteen potential clients.
3. Attend your next professional or service organization meeting. Select fourteen
people and give each person two business cards?one to keep and one
to pass on.
4. Call people you know and ask them to suggest others you might help. Do
not stop until you have fourteen names and phone numbers.
Preface xxv
5. Call the fourteen names provided to you in the previous idea. Ask for time
on their calendars to chat with you about how you might be able to help
them.
6. Add fourteen names to your mailing list. Send each a brochure with a note
from you.
7. Identify fourteen dormant clients (people you have not spoken to in two
years) and call them to see what they have been doing.
8. Read a good book? Seen a great website? E-mail the title and author or the
website address with fourteen words about why you liked it to fourteen people
who could refer you to new clients.
9. Write a fourteen-paragraph article for your website. Then contact fourteen
clients and ask them to read it and provide you with feedback.
10. Take fourteen minutes to decide how you could improve your answering machine
messages. Then implement the ideas.
11. Go to your local bookstore. Scan at least fourteen of the newest books that
focus on your area of expertise. Identify phrases, concepts, and thoughts you
could use in your next prospecting letter.
12. Identify fourteen events, such as conferences, meetings, or social gatherings,
that will occur in the next year, where you could touch base with potential
clients. Add all fourteen to your annual calendar.
13. Identify fourteen strangers to whom you would like to sell your services. Skip
ahead and read Chapter Seven to determine how to prospect.
14. Identify fourteen journals, magazines, and newspapers to which you could
submit an article or a press release.

For what it's worth... Some of these may be a good fit for you business.

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Grind It Out

by jkowolf In reply to advice

I don't know if '14' is the magic number, but the idea of continuously dripping on past, present, and future clients is a great idea. If any one of these ideas generates a client, it's worth it.

And finally, don't forget to ask for their business. You won't get it if you don't.

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You are your business - project and deliver value

by brian In reply to Self Employed? How do you ...

The difference between self-employed and unemployed is as simple as what clothes you wear on a given day. Boxers and a T-Shirt till noon and you my friend are not working for yourself but extending your unemployment vacation. - Yes lesson learned from personal experience.

Publish a phone number (mobile or 800 service) on your web site and on your business cards. Answer that phone when it rings. Answer your email as soon as possible. Make sure you would consider services from your own web site, and then make sure it is on the first page for key words targeting your city and services. Use Google suggest (free) to see which 2 or 3 relevant phrases are searched most often and then get better position for those phrases. Don't bother with related terms - focus! Have good business cards and carry them with you everywhere you go. Be ready, (not dressed like a bum) relaxed, friendly and professional if you run into a client or potential client while out in public - like shopping at Best Buy or when you go out to eat.

If you project and deliver value for the few clients you have your business will grow without crazy marketing schemes and time consuming marketing to-do lists! You are your business and how you project yourself and deliver on your services to your clients - that is your marketing plan.

P.S. if you need to promote just to drive revenue to pay some bills short term (hey, been there, done that.) then make appointments with your existing contacts. If they do not need your services right away ask if they have partners, suppliers, etc who may need your services? Conversation can open up unexpected opportunities; spend time with your clients instead of doing viral marketing which is, I believe the business equivalent of speed dating.

Stay focused and good luck!

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Hear, hear

by caleb.mutsumba In reply to You are your business - p ...

Here are some NH quotes which may help..........

Napoleon Hill
1883 - 1970
Napoleon Hill was an American writer and philsopher. He spent much of his life studying successful people and wrote many books documenting his findings.
All of his books are still widely read today and the principles he wrote about still apply. One of his most widely read books is "Think and Grow Rich". The first sentence of the book is: TRULY, 'thoughts are things,' and powerful things that, when they are mixed with definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a burning desire for their translation into riches, or other material objects." This book is often described as a powerful motivational book!
Napoleon Hill was truly a motivational writer and his work lives on! If you enjoy the quotes below, you may enjoy reading Napoleon Hill's books!
Motivational & Inspirational Quotes by Napoleon Hill:
"Most so-called Failures are only temporary defeats."
Napoleon Hill
"Your big opportunity may be right where you are now."
Napoleon Hill


"Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought."
Napoleon Hill
"Big pay and little responsibility are circumstances seldom found together."
Napoleon Hill
"A goal is a dream with a deadline."
Napoleon Hill
"First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination."
Napoleon Hill
"Hold a picture of yourself long and steadily enough in your mind's eye, and you will be drawn toward it."
Napoleon Hill
"Education comes from within; you get it by struggle and effort and thought."
Napoleon Hill
"No person can succeed in a line of endeavor which one does not like."
Napoleon Hill
"All achievements, all earned riches, have their beginning in an idea."
Napoleon Hill
"Life reflects your own thoughts back to you."
Napoleon Hill
"There is no hope of success for the person who does not have a central purpose, or definite goal at which to aim."
Napoleon Hill
"You can do it if you believe you can!"
Napoleon Hill
"You will resemble, tomorrow, the DOMINATING THOUGHTS that you keep alive in your mind today!"
Napoleon Hill
"Initiative is as essential to success as a hub is essential to a wagon wheel."
Napoleon Hill
"The reason man may become the master of his own destiny is because he has the power to influence his own subconscious mind."
Napoleon Hill
"If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way."
Napoleon Hill
"Man, alone, has the power to transform his thoughts into physical reality; man, alone, can dream and make his dreams come true."
Napoleon Hill
"Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to cut all sources of retreat. Only by doing so can one be sure of maintaining that state of mind known as a burning desire to win -- essential to success."
Napoleon Hill
"The ladder of success is never crowded at the top."
Napoleon Hill
"First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination."
Napoleon Hill
"It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed."
Napoleon Hill
"Just as our eyes need light in order to see, our minds need ideas in order to conceive."
Napoleon Hill
"Don't wait. The time will never be just right."
Napoleon Hill
"Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything."
Napoleon Hill
"More gold has been mined from the thoughts of men than has been taken from the earth."
Napoleon Hill
"Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure."
Napoleon Hill
"Knowledge is only potential power."
Napoleon Hill
"Cherish your visions and your dreams, as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements."
Napoleon Hill
"The world has the habit of making room for the man whose actions show that he knows where he is going."
Napoleon Hill
"There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge."
Napoleon Hill
"Persistence is to the character of man as carbon is to steel."
Napoleon Hill
"The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail."
Napoleon Hill
"No man is ever whipped until he quits in his own mind."
Napoleon Hill
"Think and grow rich."
Napoleon Hill
"You give before you get."
Napoleon Hill
"The starting point of all achievement is desire."
Napoleon Hill
"When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal."
Napoleon Hill
"When your desires are strong enough you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve."
Napoleon Hill

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The Computer Tutor

by Jack-M In reply to Self Employed? How do you ...

Hi and good luck. It's a tough biz to get started, I know from 1st hand experience. I offer setup, installation of hardware and software and instruction at the customers site.
What I did was start by getting some inexpensive biz cards printed. I handed them out when appropriate and posted them at places like public bulletin boards at grocery stores, local public or semi-public social gathering places like bingo halls, church basements, the unemployment office etc. I was going to put up a web site but realized my potential clientele wouldn't be able to see it without a computer that was already up and running. I advertised in the local paper at Xmas time for people getting a computer as a gift. When possible I left or posted my biz card at places like Circuit City, Staples, Office Max and the like. With some places it was OK. With some they said no.
I used friends, relatives, social clubs (Lions, VFW, bars, barber and beauty shops etc.) for word of mouth advertising. I asked my wife and kids to spread my card around at their spots. I offered discounts (Ha Ha) if you were a member of anything, church, VFW etc. Actually it was my standard price that I needed to make it work.
Draw up a business plan and determine how much you have to charge based on how many hours you'll work to set your price. Some jobs are best by the hour, some by the job. When someone buys a computer new or used it can have a bunch of spy ware, malware, bots, cookies etc. on it from being used in a showroom or by the previous owner. Get a disk with "removers" for all those things. Free stuff like SpyBot, Ad-Aware, Ewido Asquared etc. I had a few customers who bought broad band and when it was installed wouldn't work because of the above. The installer from the broadband company wouldn't/couldn't spend the time to clean up his computer and so his broadband was useless....till I came along and got rid of the crap on his "new" system.
I'm rambling. Write me at jbm125 at icontech.com if you want.

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Keep to the grind.

by gregcheek In reply to The Computer Tutor

No doubt its a difficult tasks, but one that can be successful. I've been working from home now for about 3 years. I sometimes take short term assignments to offset lulls in business; but not often. Advertise, advertise, advertise and then be able to deliver. There are literally millions of households still at the beginning stages of computer ownership and use...untapped resources. Also, the small biz offices in and around your area..those with 10 workstations or less are good but only for acute work, they normally don't or wont sign for service contracts. You'll need a few contracts, so look to make contact with small biz with up to 100-200 workstations and a few servers for consultant work. DON'T QUIT.

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