My parents always taught me that I have no limitations in life. Despite growing up in a society that tends to favour boys over girls, I grew up believing that everything I do will turn out well. And I always act out my belief everywhere I find. You can call me “Miss Optimistic”.
In line with my “no limitations” mentality, I started Onpoint Success. I’m digressing but at heart, I’ve always been an entrepreneur. My first venture was at age 10 while planning my 10th birthday. I came up with the idea of custom-made invitations and was actively involved in every detail, from planning to music.
Most people who attended were thrilled that a girl so young could pull such a feat. Soon, I was the go-to person for custom- made invites and party planning. In my middle, high school and college days, I was that girl offering to teach, share knowledge and empower others. An attitude that earned me the name “Mother Hen”. I found joy in helping others tap into their potentials and build something out of nothing. I didn’t really think much of it.
After I graduated from college, I got married, relocated to the United States and started working as an environmentalist. Then, I made the decision to launch my events planning business on the side. However, something interesting happened.
While minding my business, I started receiving messages from friends and strangers alike. They wanted me to share with them, tips on how to start and grow a small business. Being the “Mother Hen” I was, I spent the bulk of my time helping others build a better life for themselves. That was when I decided to launch Onpoint Success.
I’ve been optimistic about getting it right from the very first day. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that thinking about a thing is very different from actually doing it.
It was an uphill battle attracting customers who were willing to pay for my services. I had to wait fourteen long and excruciating months before the first customer paid me. I remember dancing when I got paid doing what I love and it felt so good!
Today, even though I’m still working my way to the top, I teach, mentor and inspire other women entrepreneurs. I help them attract customers and get paid doing what they love. The only difference is —they do not have to wait as long as I did.
All businesses need customers to survive. Unless your startup is a charity organization, the only way to prove your idea is viable is by getting willing people to pay for it.
In my case, like I stated earlier, it was an uphill battle despite knowing that I had something valuable to offer. If you are a retailer, attracting customers might be easier, depending on what you sell. But even at that, prospects usually don’t like to be the first to pay you!
As a startup, what then can you do to gain traction and attract the type of customers you’ve always dreamt of?
“Touch the heart before asking for a hand” – John Maxwell
I never gave thought to this quote by John Maxwell but once I started Onpoint Success, it all made sense to me.
As a startup, one of the fastest ways to gain traction and make people believe in your brand is by giving things out for free. Most prospects may not want to pay for something that has not been “tested and proven”. To help people minimize their risk and open up the barrier of entry, consider giving things out for free.
That’s what I did at Onpoint Success and it worked. I consulted for free with those who were trying to grow their business. I shared my expertise with those who were willing to listen.
I consistently did this anytime I had the opportunity. This, in turn, helped me gain credibility and trust which then led to my first transaction and many more after that.
Make your business presentable
People send me emails to say how impressed they are with the way I presented my business. It’s all about being intentional and paying attention to details others might overlook. Simple things like having a blog, a company email address, and even a business card communicates to others that you are ready for business.
In a mall the other day, I just couldn’t resist stopping by a cupcake vendor stand even though I had no plans to buy. Oh, how good looking and attractive it was! The cakes were well arranged on the stand, the decor matched the icing on the cake and the samples were strategically placed at the edge of the table. Eventually, I made a purchase.
I have learnt and always shared with others that first impression really does go a long way. Yes, you might be a startup but presenting your goods/services to the best of your ability is a great way to gain traction and attract customers.
One of the struggles I had was defining my target audience. And even when I knew exactly who they were, I was too scared to limit myself to those group of people. This made me stretch my resources too thin. It was almost like maxing out trying to reach those who barely cared about what I had to offer. The result? Wasted effort!
The truth is, the marketplace is a jungle. Running to every tree in the jungle or telling every tree in the jungle to come to you is not the fastest way to attract customers or build a successful enterprise. The best way to go about this, is by identifying and deciding the specific species of trees that NEED your services.
There goes your magic formula. Build your business focusing on specific customers. Make effort satisfying the needs of these customers and watch them begin to flock to you.
I believe every business owner should strive for excellence. As a business strategist, I committed myself to learning as much as I could. So, when I met with prospects, I created an impression.
Also, it’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared. As a startup, even though the customers are yet to come, spend time learning to be the best that you can be. In whatever industry, be sure to stay updated and keep abreast of the latest trends.
Most prospects do not want to deal with a generalist. They’d rather look for experts in the field. One thing that really made a difference for me was streamlining my areas of specialization. I have gained practical knowledge in those areas such that my customers have no reason to doubt my expertise. You can do that too!
Join referral networks
The best thing that ever happened to me in business was and is still my being a part of a referral network of like-minded individuals.
A network with a group of people who have your best interest at heart and are always looking out for you is absolutely priceless. There are several ones out there so you’d have to do some research to find out which one best serves your needs.
In conclusion, I’d like to add that consistency, persistence, and hard work are really important factors in gaining traction and attracting customers in any business. Nothing good comes on a platter of gold but if you keep at it, you’ll make it.
Being an entrepreneur is challenging. Yet, it’s still one of the best ways to gaining financial independence and making a difference in your community. It’s time to touch lives in a way that transcends you.
I wish you success!
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