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How to get your first B2B customers - strategies for startup success

Startup Talk: How to Get Your First B2B Customers

B2B businesses are among the most profitable. Businesses have larger budgets at their disposal than individuals and often require products and services on an ongoing basis. The profitable nature of having businesses for customers is attractive to many entrepreneurs, but how can you get your first B2B customers?

Selling to Businesses vs Individuals

A lot of business models are centered around selling to other businesses specifically. Examples include marketing companies and many different kinds of Saas businesses.

Other business models have the potential to work with both businesses and individuals. Examples of businesses that can be both B2B or B2C include cleaning services, catering companies, auto workshops and printers. The benefit of working with businesses rather than individuals, however, is that businesses are likely to send ongoing work on a regular basis.

A cleaning service might get hired to clean company offices on a weekly basis, for instance. Similarly, an auto workshop might get work to do ongoing fleet maintenance on business vehicles. Printers and catering companies might get once-off work from individuals to print wedding invitations and prepare food – which is still a good source of income, but not ongoing. A business, on the other hand, will always have marketing materials to print and corporate functions to cater for.

Considering the benefit of B2B customers, even businesses with the potential to sell to individuals should market to business entities as well.

Turning Your Startup Ideas into a Profitable Business

There’s a good chance you’re sitting with a startup idea you haven’t acted on because you don’t know where to start getting customers. The difference between an idea and a profitable business is, after all, paying customers.

Or perhaps you already started your business on the side, but you’re struggling to generate enough income from it to make it your full-time job.

Whatever your current situation, your business will grow much quicker if you have B2B customers. B2B customers can offer you a better stream of reliable income than individuals.

But don’t get tunnel vision running after B2B customers. It can be tempting to offer a B2B customer a hefty discount because of the reliable income stream you expect to get. It’s okay to give loyal customers discount, but you’ll need to do some math beforehand.

Calculate How Many B2B Customers You’ll Need

First, calculate how much revenue you’ll need to run a sustainable business. Don’t forget to factor in all your business expenses, as well as taxes. A lot of entrepreneurs mistakenly forget to factor in taxes when calculating how much revenue they need. If you’re unsure about what you’ll need to pay in taxes, consult a tax professional to get an idea of your tax liability based on your income.

Knowing how much your business will make after tax will help you make accurate calculations. You can then proceed to calculate how much of your product or service you’ll need to sell to be sustainable.

With some business models, it’s easy to estimate how much a customer will be worth. With others, this can be much more complicated. To start out with, you just need to know how much you need to make to be sustainable, then reverse-engineer approximately how many B2B customers you’ll need to make that amount.

If, for instance, you run an office cleaning service and you charge a monthly rate between $500-$1500 for an office (depending on the size), your average B2B customer might be worth about $1000 monthly. If you need to make $15,000 to run a sustainable business and cover all your expenses, you’ll need about 15 B2B customers.

At first, calculate how much you’ll need to sell at your standard rate. Once you have a prospective B2B customer, consider if they will provide you with enough ongoing income to qualify for a discount. If not, don’t offer to give them one. Businesses often have more budget than individuals, so they might not expect a discount anyway.

How to Get Your First B2B Customers

Only go look for customers once you know how many you need and what you must charge them. Knowing this information will help you have a clearly defined goal to work towards. It’s no good getting ahead of yourself and onboarding customers when you aren’t charging them enough to be sustainable.

Once you’ve got a goal to work towards, follow the necessary steps to get your first B2B customers.

1. Define Your Target Customer

Every entrepreneur has heard this advice, so it’s nothing new. Despite that, a lot of entrepreneurs still don’t know how to accurately identify profitable target customers.

There are a few things to consider when identifying who to target as potential customers:

  • What business is most likely to require your services?
  • What businesses will be easier to sell to?
  • What businesses will have enough financial resources to spend on your product or service?
  • Will your product or service be fundamentally important to the operation of these businesses?

For example, if you run a printing shop, you might target all businesses. Most businesses could use pamphlets, so you might end up casting your net too wide when approaching potential customers.

In this case, take a step back and ask yourself, what businesses might need a lot of printed materials? Surprisingly enough, it might not be businesses in need of only corporate materials. Events planning companies, for instance, might have regular work printing event invitations and plans, which could include personal events like weddings and baby showers. Apart from this, they might also have regular work for printing event banners and advertising posters.

Event planning firms could make good customers for printing businesses because your service would be a fundamental part of what they do. Getting printed materials is a service they’ll always require. They’ll have lots of work from their different clients, so one event planner might bring in the same amount of business as 10 other customers combined.

Identify what kind of business could be the same kind of valued customer for your startup, then approach these companies first when prospecting.

2. Identify Your Selling Points

Once you know what businesses to approach, think about how you’ll sell your product or service to them. What is your business’ main selling points? A selling point can be anything that helps your business stand out above the rest.

If you run a cleaning service, it could be that you use environmentally friendly cleaning agents, for instance. Environmentally aware businesses would appreciate this thought.

Or, perhaps your main selling point could be that you offer your services after hours. If you’re looking to target offices, many customers might like the idea of getting cleaners to come in after their employees’ head home. No noisy vacuum cleaners disturbing employees while they work, or areas left uncleaned because they were being occupied by working employees.

Whatever industry your business serves, make sure your target customers will value your selling points. There’s no point in using selling point that won’t arouse interest from prospects. Explain why your selling points are valuable and how they solve a problem your competition doesn’t cater for.

Don’t Be Too General

When coming up with selling points, there are a few common ones that businesses use. Some examples include:

  • X Years’ experience in our industry!
  • Fully licensed and trusted service.
  • Exceptional service and friendly staff.

These aren’t bad selling points in all cases, but many startups can’t brag about their industry experience.

Plus, these selling points are generalized. Your prospects have heard them before – probably more than once too. Any business can claim to have “exceptional service and friendly staff”, but this doesn’t always mean it’s true. A lot of businesses who claim to have friendly staff will inevitably have bad service and rude staff.

It’s not to say you can’t use general selling points at all, but you need to combine them with unique selling points as well. A unique selling point can often add credibility to more general ones.

3. Try Cold Calling or Emailing

It can be scary to make phone calls or send emails to businesses you have never contacted, but don’t let this put you off.

Once you have your selling points, write a professional cold email or some cold calling scripts. You don’t need to follow your cold calling scripts to the T, just have some notes on hand for reference. Also anticipate common questions your prospects might ask, and have a summarized answer ready in writing.

Alternatively, you could also visit potential customers at their location (if it’s open to the public) and hand out a business cards with a short 2-minute brief.

4. Contact the Right People

Contacting the right people can make the difference between whether you get interest or get shrugged off. Especially if you’ll be approaching bigger businesses, make sure you get through to the right person.

The right person to contact will be someone who has the authority to make buying choices regarding your product or service. If your business is somewhat technical, they also need to be someone who will understand the technical advantages of your product or service – someone who will be able to appreciate your superior product or level of expertise.

LinkedIn can be a great place to source the right people to contact. As an added benefit, it’s also a great place to reach out to these people about your product or service.

Compile a list of businesses and individuals to contact, then start making cold calls and sending emails, or connecting with people on LinkedIn.

A lot of online business advice instructs entrepreneurs to inform their personal network of their new startup. This could help in some cases, but in most cases your existing personal network won’t be enough to bring in enough customers. That’s why networking is an important step in growing your business. With enough perseverance, you should get your first B2B customers soon!

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non biased perspective on for the people act

For the People Act of 2019 Bill HR1: Everything You Need to Know

Political issues are often at the forefront of controversy, debate and fiery disagreements where persons of different opinions are unable to reach a mutual conclusion. The For the People Act of 2019 Bill HR1, is no different. Instituted by the Democritc congressional majority, the bill focuses on fairness in political campaigning and voter rights.

Here’s what you need to know about HR1 from a non-biased perspective.

For the People Act Objectives

The aim of the For the People Act of 2019 is to improve the democratic values of America as a nation. This bill is intended to enhance the power of everyday people in politics and give more power to the larger American population.

The Democratic party claims that there are areas where the American people’s rights in political campaigns and electoral matters has previously been neglected. To resolve these concerns, the bill mainly focuses on political problems in three areas:

  • Campaign financing
  • Government ethics
  • Voting rights

By changing legislation in these three areas, the Democratic party hopes to distribute political power for candidates more fairly, allowing the broader general population more control over electoral outcomes.

For the People Act of 2019: Practical Implications

As stated, the HR1 bill handles the important issue of controlling power, with the aim of providing more power to American citizens. Here are some of the main ways in which the bill will change legislation to accomplish these goals.

Controlling Campaign Financing

By executing stricter regulations regarding how political candidates finance their campaigns, the For the People Act of 2019 aims to prevent financial wealth from governing political outcomes in our nation. Some of the legislation changes in bill regarding campaign finance include:

  • Requiring all organizations that are involved in electoral expenditure to disclose donors
  • Improving political spending transparency by requiring disclosure to voters regarding who paid for online political campaign advertisements
  • Strengthen oversight to ensure that campaign finance laws are strictly adhered to and heighten accountability in this area
  • Allowing ordinary Americans to support political campaigns through a donor-focused public financing system
  • Setting boundaries in place to restrict foreign companies from funding US elections
  • Requiring government contractors to disclose how many is spent for political purposes

Money is power, and this is exactly why the bill aims to regulate political campaign financing more carefully.

By restricting donations and allowing the broader public to not only politically, but also financially support campaigns, the Democratic party aims to restrict money from being the only source of power in America. The party believes that requiring political candidates to rely on “big money” donors creates a situation where some of the wealthiest Americans have too much power – all based on the sole premise of their wealth.

Changes to Government Ethics and Accountability

Government ethics is a vital in allowing the citizens of America to trust that governance of this country is in good hands. Changes that the new bill made to matters of government ethics and accountability include:

  • The ban of members of Congress to serve on corporate boards
  • Requiring presidential and vice-presidential candidates to disclose three years’ worth of tax returns
  • Establishment of rules of ethics binding on the Supreme Court

The changes in the new bill regarding government ethics and accountability are still under debate. Specifically, it is unclear whether Congress has the constitutional authority to impose some of the legislation regarding the Supreme Court, as the Supreme Court was established by the Constitution.

Changes to Voter Rights

Under the new bill, a few important changes have been made to voter rights. These changes include:

  • Granting previously convicted felons the right to vote
  • Automatic voter registration
  • Online voter registrations
  • The institution of voting day as a federal public holiday
  • Enhancing election security, particularly by using a paper-based voting system
  • Prohibit voter purges, thereby helping voters retain their right to vote
  • Limit partisan gerrymandering

Many of the changes are controversial. However, there are some legislation changes that could certainly help voters execute their right to vote more easily. The declaration of election day as a public holiday, for instance, could greatly help many voters who might otherwise not be able to vote due to work.

Additionally, while opinions of the matter may differ, there’s no doubt that increased voting rights for previously convicted felons will lead to a larger number of Americans voting in the coming elections.

Opposing Responses to the For the People Act

Some of the main concerns from opposition to the For the People Act of 2019, includes disputes regarding certain areas of legality when considering existing amendments and legislation.

Another concern raised by opposition is the concern that the changes included in the bill won’t successfully allow elections to be more democratic or free, but will instead allow for new ways in which electoral power can be manipulated.

When it comes to concerns regarding the bill being in conflict with amendments and the conflict in authorities, opposition parties brought up the following issues:

  • Suggesting that previously convicted felons should be undeniably granted the right to vote is in conflict with the 14th Amendment, which states that states have the authority to deny persons the right to vote based on “participation in rebellion and other crimes”.
  • HR1 is conflict with the 10th Amendment, as it grants a three-judge panel the authority to redraw congressional districts.

Opposition parties are concerned that the changes in HR1 are not only unconstitutional, but will impose on the rights Americans in certain ways. There is also concern that the legislation in the bill will lead to states having less control in electoral processes, which some say, is micro-managing the way in which elections are run.

Those opposing the bill don’t believe that disclosing to voters who paid for online political campaign ads. One of the main concerns opposing parties have with this change is that it will largely complicate the process of advertising political campaigns online. Especially the legal aspect of advertisements. Specifically, tech companies can also be held liable for displaying ads that were sponsored by an unauthorized person.

The increased legal risks involved with online campaign advertisements will lead to a significant cost increase. This cost increase will make online political ads less financially accessible going forward, as legal costs will become overly inflated. Opposing parties suggest that the irony of this legislation is that the significant costs involved in online political advertising will make it accessible to only the ultra-wealthy, achieving the opposite effect of what the bill is intended to do.

Many more concerns were raised regarding the bill. However, the main issues raised were all centered around whether all legislation contained in HR1 is constitutional and fair. Opposition concerns are that the widespread effects the bill will affect electoral freedom in ways that won’t inevitably produce elections that are more fair – ultimately leading to a situation where wealth and electoral power still aren’t mutually exclusive, perhaps even promoting a scenario where money drives voting power in the US.

The distribution of power, as well as conflicts of interest regarding electoral matters, isn’t one that will be resolved easily. Struggles for power and conflicts in opinions regarding how elections should be handled in order to be viewed as free and democratic, will continue to exist. For the best interest of all Americans, it’s important to be educated on proposed changes, as well as how changes will affect the electoral process.

For most Americans, however, their right to vote remains one of the most powerful and impactful ways they are able to control the situation in the US. By learning more about political disputes and the effects they have on the country, US citizens can choose to support political candidates with views that align with their own beliefs. The power of citizens to vote for ideals they believe in remains as an integral value which all Americans should gladly support and fight for, regardless whether they believe HR1 will facilitate this right.

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