I started a video production company when I was 20-years-old. My Dad taught me how to do it.
When new entrepreneurs ask for my opinion about starting something new, here’s what I typically say. There are other ways, but this is what has worked for me:
- Do some great work. Even if you don’t get paid for it, you need a portfolio of work as proof that you can deliver. You cannot get any serious jobs without this.
- Create a great website. Make sure it features the very best of your work. Print some business cards that match the design of your website.
- Attend every business networking event in your city you can find. Meet lots of people. Tell them what you do & why you are special at doing it. It can be scary, but just be nice to people & remember that they don’t really know what they are doing either. Most important: Get their business cards. Give them yours, but their card is really what you want.
- The next day, send everyone you met an email that re-introduces yourself. Remind them of what you do. Then, ask: "How can I help you?" Try to move the dialogue to a phone call or a face-to-face meeting. The goal isn't to ask for their business, it's to build relationship with lots of people as quickly as possible. The help you are offering isn't necessarily available from you for free, but you are bringing a spirit of community participation rather than saying 'gimme' to a bunch of people who don't know & trust you.
- As you build relationship, ask for their input. "Who in this community needs what I do?" "Where would you look for projects?" "Who should I call? Would you be willing to introduce me?" Now, you will receive leads that are built on respect & reputation, & they will be relatively easy to close, if they are ready to move ahead with a project. No hard selling.
This approach creates more than a 'one-off', transactional business built on advertising. You are building long-term relationships.
Some of the effort is wasted, no question. Some people won't be able to help you. But this is how you can create the foundation of a career.
This is how I built my business. I believe if you commit yourself to seriously investing into this for 1 year, and you continue the process, you will probably be buried with work.