It all starts with the first paying customer; then the first 100; then the first 1,000; then the first… – all right, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Getting early traction is a challenge that pretty much every business faces. You might think you need a big budget to get tongues wagging, but there’s plenty you can do with limited resources. Shouting from the rooftops is one technique, but here are others, too.

Share on your socials. Obvious, but not to be ignored. Share your journey on your personal social media accounts to encourage engagement and tell the world and your followers about what it is that you’re building. 

Get emailing. Using your personal email, reach out to friends and family with info about your business, asking them to forward to others if they think your business might be of interest to them. Start building that email list.

Join a group – or several. Whether that’s networking meetups with business owners in your area, or a group specific to your industry, becoming an active member of groups will significantly broaden the number of people you’ll be able to reach when you do launch. 

Find an industry guru. Reach out to people in your sector with expertise, experience and acumen – you might have to pay them for their time. Don’t simply pitch your business to them; instead gather their advice and feedback and try to solve their pain points – before turning them into early adopters. 

Speak to relevant press. You should have some knowledge of the right media outlets to contact, but it’s also worth seeing who has covered your competitors for new ideas. Try to build relationships with reporters, and pitch them nuanced, focused angles on your business. 

Create a referral program. Setting up a structured program for existing customers to gain rewards by referring their friends is an excellent way to encourage word of mouth, though this might cost a bit. Here’s more on how to set up a referral program.

Check out our Courier Workshop podcast on referral marketing as well.

This article was first published in How to Start a Business 2021. To become a subscriber or purchase our newest guide, head to our webshop.

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