So, you’ve got a great idea, you’ve created a solid business plan and you even have a prototype ready to show off. You’re set, right? My guess: not quite.
When you’re just starting up, it’s often smart to spend some time also building up your nerve before making the leap. I’d argue that — aside from only the most assured and insanely confident founders (Richard Branson, anyone?) — everyone must perform a similar gut check.
1. Practice. It can be hard to walk into the office of a potential client and make your pitch, particularly if you’ve never done it before. So prepare by building your presentation, then try it out on friends, family and close colleagues. Be sure to address any issues of concern and any other questions that pop up.
2. Start with a small fish. It’s tempting to jump on your best potential buyer or client, but that’s risky. Instead, start with a client you can afford to lose. That way, if you can make any mistakes and discover any gaps in your service, you won’t burn your best prospect. Plus, bigger-fish clients tend to avoid working with new vendors who don’t already have a track record.
3. Make cold calls. No one who sells anything can avoid making cold calls forever, so it’s time to start. Understand the most important concept behind cold calling: It takes lots of rejections to get a yes. So try not to get discouraged. Take notes on which openings work the best and which you should avoid repeating. Then, set a number of cold calls you will make every day and stick with it. Eventually it will pay off.