We can all use some good small business ideas. As you start to think about different ideas for starting a small business, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is, “Can I find customers for this business”. It does not matter how good or how passionate you are at something, if you cannot find clients or get customers in the door, your business will probably not last long, no matter how good your other small business ideas are. Sadly, many people who start a small business don’t look for the answer to this question until they are losing money and wondering what went wrong.
So how does a person get customers or clients? As the owner of a computer consulting company I can tell you it is not as easy as you might think when you are doing your business plan. When I first started planning my business with my partner, we had lots of good ideas, we were told our business plan looked solid and we had high hopes of hiring lots of staff to help us with the large amount of work we would pull in. Sadly for us, the first 18 months were a struggle and nothing seemed to work out as we had planned. We finished our first year with a solid five-figure loss.
Luckily for us, my partner and I were stubborn and decided to get clients by thinking out of the box. We started looking for clients in unique ways. We came up with ideas where our service could be used. One idea was for multi-unit apartment owners to have cable internet installed and charge a bit extra for rent. An eight unit apartment building could have business grade internet installed for about $100 monthly. If the building owner could get five of the renters to agree to pay an extra $20 for internet he would break even and if 6 or 7 would go for it, he would make an additional profit each month. Almost everyone has a computer these days and regular broadband internet costs $40 and higher in our area. This was a great deal for the renters as they got very high-speed internet at half the price. It was a good fit for the building owner since he could make a few extra dollars of profit each month. Imagine how much profit the business owner could make if he had a 20 unit building? Now you are getting the idea, when you are coming up with your small business ideas, try to imagine both you and the customer coming out on top.
We started targeting real estate owners associations and made presentations to the building owners about this idea and the potential for profit. It didn’t take us long to get a few on board and even better, we also got a few service contracts for repairing the renters computers since we offered them a good discount. The moral of this story? Come up with ways where your product or service can be used and then target those groups and go to them. Don’t wait for business to come to you.