Good Question: How do I get my first client?

Dear Alex,
I want to run my own business. What is the best way to find my first client? Where do I begin?

Hey C,

In my personal experience, the best way to get your very first client is to…

1. Make a list of about 30 people that you love very much and who love you right back (friends, family, colleagues, teachers, mentors, former classmates, etc.)

2. Contact each person individually (email, phone call, lunch date, letter, postcard, whatever you want to do) and say:

“Guess what? I am doing _____ now! If you know anyone who needs _____, please feel free to send them my way. I am so excited to begin this new chapter of my career!”

Let your enthusiasm shine. After all, this is big news! It’s exciting, cool, and inspiring.

3. After giving 30 people the big news, now, 30 people know what you’re up to — and they will be excited to help you if they possibly can. You’ll be on their mind. They will think about you in the days and weeks to come.

4. Keep repeating this process with as many people as you reasonably can. Keep spreading the word about what you are doing. Pollinate, pollinate, pollinate, like an industrious honeybee.

5. Sooner or later, someone will come to you and hire you. At that point, your job is to delight your very first client (hooray!) so that hopefully they rave about you to somebody else… who hires you after that… and so on. Word of mouth. Ripple effect. Eventually, the pollination begins to happen all by itself.

In conclusion / also:

I am not a business expert. Really not.

I don’t have a degree in business. I don’t study business trends. I would rather pierce my own eyeballs with a sewing needle than discuss SEO strategies.

I run my own business with a combination of common sense, intuition, and trust — trust in myself and in others. Mostly it works. Occasionally it doesn’t.

I do believe, though, that whether we’re talking about getting your first client, getting your first job, gaining funding and support for your mission or cause, or attracting your true love, the process is always the same. To recap:

– Start by reaching out to people who already love you.

– Tell those people what you are up to these days, what you want, what you’re seeking.

– Ask these people to keep you in mind, to keep their eyes peeled for opportunities, to send good vibes your way, and so on.

That’s it. Start with love and keep it simple.

It does take some courage, sometimes, to reveal your most precious dreams to other people. But you’ve got to do it. It’s the only way that people will know what you are up to — and how they can help you.


Good Question is an advice column about writing, communication, creativity, and how to be a decent human being in a complicated world. Looking for past columns? Go here.