Finding clients is a challenge for many new contractors. But without a steady stream of paying clients, your contracting business probably won’t get far. Here are seven ways to find your first clients, from asking your network for referrals to buying small business insurance.
1. Reach out to your current network
Turning strangers into paying clients can be a big hurdle for new contractors. You need to build trust and prove your skill before you can work with them. That’s where word-of-mouth referrals often come in handy. The people you already know—your former colleagues, friends, and family members—may be happy to vouch for you.
When you start your small business, spread the word! You never know who might be looking for the services you can provide. A casual barbecue could lead to a new client, the same as attending an industry event.
2. Expand your professional network
The people you already know might help you get the ball rolling, but your professional network could really help you score your first clients. But if you’ve already tapped out your former colleagues, it might be time to meet some new ones.
Attending industry events is one way to add to your professional network. The people you meet may be in need of your services or know someone else who does. Your local council may also hold networking events where you can meet other local businesspeople who may lead to new clients for your business.
3. Create a website
The internet has transformed business. Potential clients will likely want to see your website before they hire you. If you don’t have one, they may question your skill or professionalism.
Creating a website for your contractor business can be easy. There are many user-friendly and inexpensive (even free) platforms that make web design quick and simple. As your business grows, you might consider hiring a web designer or SEO specialist to help you optimise your site to make it easier for clients to find it.
4. Work social media
Social media is another game-changer for independent contractors. Clients may search for your profiles to get a sense of who you are and the work you do. Having a solid social media presence also shows that you’re comfortable with new technology and follow current trends (which may be important in your field).
The professional social media profiles you create will depend on the type of contractor you are. LinkedIn is great for building credibility and showcasing your skills. Joining Facebook groups could be a way to connect with people who might need the services you offer. Rather than creating profiles on every platform, focus on just one or two and really learn to use them well.
5. Get business cards
Websites and social media are essential, but don’t discount the humble business card! They might seem like a thing of the past, but you’d be surprised how much contractors still use these handy marketing tools. Business cards help you quickly share your contact details, give potential clients something physical to remember you by and identify you as a professional.
Many online design tools and apps make it easy to create and order business cards. However, you might want to order a relatively small amount when you’re first getting started. You may decide to do a complete redesign once your business is more established and won’t want to throw out a tonne of the first version.
6. Try different kinds of advertising
Depending on the type of contract work you do, you might consider advertising your services to potential clients. Your budget may not be very large in the beginning, but there are many cost-effective ways to advertise your small business.
Social media and Google Ads are often affordable for small businesses and offer local targeting options. However, even low-tech ads can be effective. Consider dropping flyers off at relevant businesses or cold calling and emailing potential clients (just be sure to review NZ anti-spam laws before you do).
7. Get liability insurance
How does small business insurance help you find clients? Think about this: you’re choosing between two tradies to do work on your house. One is insured, and the other isn’t. You’re probably going to hire the one with insurance, right? Your clients are likely no different.
Business insurance is another way to show that you’re a true professional. You’re ready to back your business and work up with the protection provided by different types of policies, like Professional Indemnity and Public Liability insurance. From a potential client’s point of view, it also means that you value them and are prepared to fix unexpected problems that might arise.
Ready to buy business insurance? BizCover’s here to help! Get insurance in minutes with no paperwork and no dramas. Start now!
This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording.
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