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Finding Your First Customers

Here's how to find out who they are, where they are, and how to get them.

Here's how to find out who they are, where they are, and how to get them.

Ever visited A shop or restaurant and noticed a framed dollar bill on the wall? It's usually from the first sale the operation made, and for most business owners, keeping that bit of currency is a sentimental gesture commemorating a tremendously exciting moment. Ask any entrepreneur about their first transaction, and they'll probably answer with delicious and tantalizing detail. But the question you may be focusing on is this: Where did they find that first customer? And then: How can I do the same?

Those first customers are critical for several reasons. They generate much-needed revenue for your young company. They provide a foundation for all your future successes. Their purchases will validate your market research. Their consumption patterns will guide your product development and marketing strategies. And their referrals will expand your customer base.

So where are these important folks? Unless you have an extremely specialized product, chances are they're all around you. But before you can figure out exactly where they are, you need to know who they are.

Jacquelyn Lynn is a business writer who has specialized in marketing and management issues for more than a decade. She lives in Winter Park, Florida.

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This article was originally published in the March 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Finding Your First Customers.

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