“How do I get clients?”
There are a million things that scare you when you leave the “comfort” of an organization and set your own course. But ultimately, the biggest one has to be finding people who pay you for your services.
In the early days of my solo consulting business, I dealt with a situation many have stumbled upon.
On one side, I panicked and had nightmares about creating ways for clients to find me. I would spend hours thinking about funnels and tactics and copywriting, and everything else people told me was necessary when it came to filling a pipeline.
On the other side, my pipeline was always full of people that just “magically” fell on my lap. That too scared the shit out of me. It was great to have those clients, but not knowing why and how they were coming to me was a big source of stress.
There’s no greater source of anxiety for me than not knowing how something ticks, or coming to the conclusion that ‘it’s magic.’
While I loved getting these new projects, not knowing what was bringing them felt terrifying.
Over the years, a pattern started to emerge, and somehow I began to understand that I was actually bringing those clients in (time after time). I just wasn’t aware of how I was doing it.
It all boiled down to this:
Clients are not acquired. They’re not attracted.
Clients are created.
One person who helped me realize this is a guy I’ve been working with for the past 5+ years. He’s a local partner who does the bulk of the recruiting for my research projects.
While his company makes consistent 8 figures year on year, working for some of the biggest agencies and brands in the country, he was always on the other side of the phone.
- We would get drinks after projects wrapped, and have lunch from time to time.
- He lent me his office when I mentioned I was getting sick of working from home.
- He would send me a message to see how I was doing.
Now, mind you, when I started out on my own, I was probably the lowest paying client he had. He had no financial incentive to treat me that way.
But the truth is that he wasn’t looking to protect his biggest account – he was looking to create it.
With every new project I got, guess who I called to help me with it?
As my business grew, he was gaining more from it.
I passed every single offer I had from other potential partners. Offers that would have saved me thousands and would have increased my margin.
To this day, he’s the only person I call when a new project comes through the door.
Playing long-term games with long-term people
A business (a profitable, healthy, service-based, one-person business) is ultimately about one thing:
Relationships are not built overnight, and they take a lot of work.
It may take days, months, or years to build trust, good communication, mutual understanding, and becoming someone’s ‘go-to guy (or girl)’ for solving a given problem. It takes constant care to keep them strong.
But when you build strong relationships, the work just flows in. Compounding interest year after year.
When you’re starting out, it’s tempting to think short-term and try to get as much as you can as fast as you can. But that can be the single biggest trap you’ll fall into as you grow your business.
Building lasting relationships and “creating your clients” should be something you do from day one.