I find trying to pick up new clients for my computer business is very much like fishing. You put the best bait possible on the end of the line (advertising), cast it off into the lake (your local area) and hope something bites (a new customer).
That’s a great approach, especially if you’re the only fisherman in the lake. But what happens when you’re in a lake crowded with hundreds of other fisherman? Some of these guys have been in the business for decades and have huge boats with dozens of fishing lines coming off the deck. How do you compete?
Casting A Net
When you first start out in the computer business world, you’re kind of like that lone fisherman in a crowded lake of master anglers. You may not even know what kind of fish you want to catch, let alone how to catch them.
So instead of trying to fish like the rest of them, it’s best for new business owners to cast a wide net. See what kind of fish end up getting tangled in it. You may pull up a tin can and a tire. But chances are you’ll get some live fish in there too.
This is how I ended up approaching things when I first started my computer business. I didn’t exactly know what kind of services to offer and what kind of customers I wanted, so I basically just offered what ever services I could do to whoever would listen. Sure, I ended up doing some crummy jobs for less than ideal customers, but I had to get started somewhere.
It’s easy to come up with the perfect plan of action while you’re starting your computer business, but once you get out there and start working you will soon realize that many of your assumptions are way off. This means, as a new business owner, you need to be flexible and willing to experiment. You need to cast that net far and wide by offering as many different services as you can to as many different customer niches as possible.
This is great strategy for new business owners, but do you really want to be catching just any old fish for your whole career? Eventually you want to go for the big catches…the prize marlins of the sea.
Spear That BIG Catch
You may snag a big catch every now and then with a net, but it’s normally an accident, and it’s hard to repeat. Instead, what successful fisherman have done since ancient times is to study the behaviors of his ideal fish and then use a precise instrument like a spear to get them. This eliminates the wasted energy of dealing with all the garbage and small fish that come up in the net. This then frees up the fisherman to concentrate on catching more big fish.
I’m at the point now in my business where I’m learning to use a spear. I’ve had an opportunity to work with some ideal customers on a couple of projects that paid very well. I didn’t target these people, instead they just kind of fell in my lap after over a year of casting my net.
Now that I know what my ideal customer is, the person I love working with that pays me well, I have been concentrating on targeting that type of client all the time and I’ve been having some success with it. As I discussed in my previous blog post, the beauty of entrepreneurship is having the freedom to choose who I want to work with. By spear fishing I have only targeted the type of customer that I want to work with, which has helped grow my business much more quickly than simply trying to do everything for everybody.
That’s not to say you should throw the net away. You still want to cast it out from time to time, especially if business starts to get slow. But spending most of your time on spear fishing should yeild greater returns.
Stay tuned for my next post where I’m going to talk about strategies to identify and attract your ideal customer.
Are you a net caster or a spear fisher? Why?