Starting a web design shop seems like it is one of the easiest things to do; easy that is until you need to find clients.
If you are like me you probably have been in web design and programming for some time and make decent money at it via your day job. Eventually your day dream of making it on your own just gets the better of you and you go get a business license, set up a website for consulting, and push a bunch of articles and press releases with the intent of attracting clients. After putting forth what seems to be an enormous effort you wait and few if any clients send you an email.
What went wrong? Your lack of a marketing plan thatís what. After reading this you should be able to find some new clients and generate some great PR for your shiny new firm.
Step One: Think Local
Putting up your plaque on the internet is easy. Too easy in fact, that why you need to find a place where you can get clients that all those seo sharks canít reach. Thatís right you need to step out into meat space and talk to people. There are many small businesses that have problems they need solved but they are not actively searching for solutions. They wait until they happen to meet the person that can solve them in person before concluding that the nagging problem is worth solving. Making sure you are in a position to meet those people is important. Join a few local business organizations, some examples would be the Lions Club, the Rotarians, and the Chamber of Commerce all of these provide you an opportunity to meet the people who have money and need professional solutions.
Step Two: Solve a problem or twoÖ for free.
Think about it. Your potential clients donít know you. You need to build goodwill, establish youíre an expert and demonstrate that you understand their problems. Find out who your potential clients are and what their problems are (you did that already in your buines plan right? ) then provide some solutions to them on your site and publish them in a paper or some other trade magazine.
Step Three: What about the kids?
Spend some time volunteering in your companyís name. The local press loves stories about businesses helping people and the community. Also many organizations that are charities are run by people who operate businesses, by helping you get to network and do some good for your community.
Step Four: Trolling for people with a need and money
List your resume on job boards, make sure its impressive and truthful and wait for people to call you. Once you get the call respond as interested in the job but tell them you have a growing business as well and ask if they would be willing to contract out the job to your company. They can save money by avoiding the fees associated with having employees and you can get some business for your company. [as an aside my resume is written so I get lots of short term offers, the type that could be outsourced by companies ]
Step Five: Spend some money silly
If you are not willing to invest in marketing your business then why should you expect money in return for your marketing efforts? Spend money to attend speeches and mixers, to go to technology events, and otherwise get to know your peers and customers. Along with this make sure you get accounting software, a phone line, and a business license, and some dedicated computers and servers just for your business. All these things are indicators to others that you are serious.
Lastly some parting advice, if your background is strictly in web development and programming, like mine was, you likely need some help. Make an effort to befriend someone who does corporate sales, these are people who know how to find potential clients and can advice you on what to do.
Best of luck to all of you.