The basics of starting your own service company
Nowadays the easiest way to start your own enterprise is to sell a service. Being good at something and being able to perform well organized process and scale it up is a quick way to become solid company with some capital. Starting without need of huge capital also means a credit from the bank is not required, or at least not as much. Psychologically, this affects you as there is less pressure to succeed and succeed fast. In business is very likely to fail few times before finding the right formula. However, it is important to have enough time to learn from your mistakes and find the right way.
I have the experience to start a marketing/web design company – also known as digital agencies. I was able to do a little bit of web design (HTML & CSS) and PHP, being able to deliver good SEO, PPC, content and also knowing a lot of people that would deliver all these products for a very cheap price. Basically, I have the general knowledge how the good product looks like and I knew what I want for every aspect. All this experience I have because of managing my own websites. They were earning some money but not so much, so I took a more radical approach after finishing university. I was hungry to get some cash and invest in some good ideas I had.
I was not alone – I had a partner, however, he was not very into the business but was pushing very hard and being helpful for tons of other stuff. So I picked up 50 or so companies in my city and made my partner to call all of them and tell them we can help them sell more online and to set up a meeting. It was not easy, he was new to cold calling but really believed in me and that if he set ups a meeting I will get the client. Here are some very useful cold calling tips if you are new to that topic.
We were also sending a lot of emails to owners of crappy websites. Furthermore, trying to contact them at Facebook, Twitter or somewhere else.
Although, we managed to set up few meetings the situation was not very good. The only portfolio we had was few websites we owned. However, we agreed to be paid after work being done – this was actually a crucial point. And so we got 2 projects – to do basic SEO for about 2 months and also to develop simple corporate website. We continue targeting local businesses but it was difficult. The summer has just begun and many owners were not very interested. At the end we got lucky and signed up huge project to develop online store for a big office supply firm. Moreover, we were responsible to develop some internal systems for discounts, loyal pricing, basic CRM and report generation system. Again crucial to get the client was our willingness first to do the job and then to be paid. It is a risky strategy but at the end of the day we realized we had no other choice.
With that same tactic we managed to get more and more clients and start targeting much bigger ones. I was actually willing to work for free for 2-3 weeks project for a very big company just because it will be a perfect add on to our portfolio. With the time I changed the strategy and during the meetings I was confident and suggesting them to call one of our clients and ask about us. I knew of only one case there had been such phone call but the strategy is always working well and really decreases the traction that companies have in order to give us a project.
With the time I become more greedy/confident and wanted bigger and more expensive projects – working for US companies. The trust was a big issue but we managed to find a solution once again – do some projects for free. We made a website for an attorney that was based in small but rich town next to New York. He was very happy, wanted to pay us something – we said we cannot receive money for the website development because the agreement was not such one, but we can sell him some basic SEO – he agreed. Even more he tell a friend with a bakery store about us and so the wheel begun to spin and in few months we had 5 clients from US.
This is nothing new or something very special. But many times new companies forget in what they believe. Very often owners become greedy just because they got lucky and managed to get a very profitable project. In my opinion the first 2-3 years of such companies should be dedicated to building portfolio and getting as many projects as possible. Develop connections and gather more people that would recommend you. Then you will be trusted and recognized and it will be much easier to charge more. Initially, the only benefit of having your own company is to be independent, but on other side the responsibility and risk is much higher. However, if you believe you are good at what you do and you can provide great product then you are only few years of hard work away to have a small successful business.
My advice for all of you is be patient, do not hurry up the things just because you want to grow faster and get richer faster. This is a sure recipe for a failure.