For 10 years, I helped my dad run a successful family business. Towards the end of those 10 years, the business was making a slow decline, largely due to situations outside our control, and we could see that the writing was on the wall.

As the likelihood of us having to shut down the business increased, I started preparing myself for my next source of income.

I won’t lie, the thought of having to go out and search for a “real job” for the first time in my adult life did not appeal to me. There was a good chance that it would be something I didn’t enjoy, and paid me too little.

So, I thought about what other opportunities I could create for myself. I got a taste of what it was like to manage my own business, and I didn’t want it to end.

I’ve always been a “techie”, someone who loves gadgets and basically anything that involves the internet.

I also learned a lot about business over those 10 years working with my dad. It was a far more valuable experience than any amount of college years could have given me.

Taking all of that into account, I settled on web design. It was something I really enjoyed, and would allow me the freedom I had become so accustomed to.

The thing is, web design is an incredibly crowded industry. If you have a small business, you likely receive dozens of emails and phone calls every month from someone trying to sell you web design. Most from India or Bangladesh…

How would I get myself noticed? How would I get any clients?

Here are 3 things to know when starting your own business:

Know yourself

The first thing you need to do is know what you have to offer. Ask yourself: “What are my skills, strengths, and weaknesses? What do I excel at, and where do I need to improve?”

People buy from people. If you don’t truly know what you’re all about, then how can you effectively sell yourself?

Know your industry

What is the current state of your industry? What are the trends? Are there any customer experience gaps that need filling? What problems do your potential customers have that aren’t being solved?

There’s always a door for you to stick your foot in, you just have to look hard enough.

Know your competition

I mean really analyze them. What are they good at? What are they bad at? Why do their customers love them?

Then, be better.

They have a quick turn around? Be faster. They have a vast amount of knowledge? Be smarter. They have top quality products? Make better products.

How I did it

In my case, with my web design business, I noticed that almost no one was offering fast web design services. Affordable, high quality, SEO optimized, yes. But not fast.

So, I built my business on that. That was my focus. Yes, I emphasized that my services were affordable for any small business, but my main focus was on pushing my fast web design services. I could have your site built within a day or two.

I focused all of my marketing and SEO efforts on that simple premise. It allowed me to rank very high for keywords related to fast web design services, as it had very low competition.

how to land your first big client
My search rankings for these keywords as of February 7, 2016.

When the President of one of the biggest media conglomerates in Canada found out that he would need to start looking for new work, he decided he needed a website under his name, with his full resume on display.

And he needed it fast.

When he searched Google for fast web design, what did he find? Me. I replied fast, I communicated fast, and I built his site fast. It was created and published within 48 hours.

He was very happy with my work. So much so that he was willing to provide a glowing testimony, which is prominently displayed on my website.

What I learned

If you want something bad enough, you can have it. I didn’t have any previous experience in web design and online marketing, and I certainly didn’t go to school for it, but I had a passion for it. So I learned.

I saw the potential reward in owning my own business, one that I could manage and operate from anywhere in the world.

On your journey as an entrepreneur, you will have many naysayers. People who will mock you or attempt to downplay what you create because they don’t have the courage to make it themselves. Those people are not worth your time. Surround yourself with positive individuals.

Know yourself, your competition, and your industry. Have a goal in mind, and a passion for what you do.

Do all of that, and you’ll have no problem landing your first big fish.

(header image via Freshbooks)

The story of how I landed my first really big customer, as a relative nobody.
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  1. Bandela

    October 24, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Hi Patrick,

    Such a captivating article. Thank you for sharing Patrick. I like your entrepreneurial spirit. Keep it up

  2. James

    February 9, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Awesome work. Nice looking blog too

    • Patrick

      February 10, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      Thanks James

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