Get started in business

I regularly work with people who want to become self employed. These days, I am often told that before they can start trading, my clients need: a company name, website, business cards (complete with logo); perhaps even brochures or branded materials. One client insisted she needed printed, letterhead stationery before she could consider marketing her business!

Sometimes I wonder if they really believe this, or it’s a way of working on their business that is less scary than selling.

In my experience nothing says you are successfully in business better then generating your first sale.


 Most often, your first sale will come from someone you know. The potential customer already trusts you and has a good idea of what you can give them. So, is it really likely that they will refuse to buy from you because you don’t have a website or a professional brochure?

You might think, “This is obvious, why is she telling us?”

Because.... business start up activities can be great forms of procrastination. You can genuinely say you are busy developing your business whilst not getting out selling your services. It’s clear which activity is more likely to earn you money and build your confidence but we are all capable of avoiding those tasks we feel least comfortable with.

So, in my opinion what do you really need to start your business as a consultant or coach?

  •  A phone
  • A company name or trading name ( check out what options you have in your country)
  • An email address – ideally not a free gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc account as these tend to look less professional
  • A business card – doesn’t have to be perfect – use one of the online cheap printers to get 250 cards.
  • A bank account – it’s better to keep your business earnings completely separate from personal money
  • Professional insurance

These shouldn’t take you long.

Then, put your time and energy into marketing and business development and get CLIENTS!

I still have a photocopy of the first cheque I earned as a self employed Coach. It felt fantastic to get a sale. I was in business.

So, be honest with yourself – what activities do you have planned to get your business started?

More importantly, what actions will you take today, tomorrow, next week, next month to get your first paying clients? Then you can truly say you are in business.

This article first appeared  on the ICF blog.  Beverley Grant, PCC, is a very experienced career coach who has helped many people find the right role and excel at work they enjoy.   
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