My Only Advice Before You Start a Services Business

I’m approaching the fourth anniversary since I started Sangora, a consultancy that helps media companies design and implement their advertising technology.  

Over the past few years, I’ve been asked a range of questions about how to start a services business:

“How did you build your website?”

“What kind of business insurance do I need?”

“Which state is the best to form an LLC?”

Looking back on these questions, I realized that they’re actually incorrectly focused. Why? Because they zero in on the administration and optimization of a business that doesn’t yet exist.

Sure, such questions feel important when pondering a jump into entrepreneurship, and yes: Many of them will have to be answered eventually.

But when you’re on the precipice of starting a services business, I only have one piece of advice:

Find one person to buy what you’re selling.

Don’t worry about your future website. Just find one paying customer.

Don’t spend time investigating the best state in which to form your company. Just find one paying customer.

Heck, don’t even quit your day job. Just find one paying customer.

Why is this my only advice? Because you simply don’t have a business to manage or optimize until you’ve found that one customer. Focus all your efforts on this sole task — everything else can wait on the back burner.

Moreover, as you spend your energy on finding that paying customer, you’ll naturally unlock answers to other important questions:  

  • What kinds of objections am I encountering?
  • Am I targeting the right type of customers?
  • Is this a service that people need or want?

So if you’re thinking about starting a services business, don’t worry yet about the intricacies of running it. You’ll figure out those details after you achieve your single focus:

Just find one customer.

What’s your one piece of advice in an area you know well?

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1 Comment

  1. Along the same line, I get questions from customers asking to sign NDAs, confidentiality agreements. They’re worried about someone stealing their secret sauce and they haven’t even convinced someone to pay for it yet. Yikes! I think there’s a Paul Graham essay in this neighborhood too about VCs and investors not signing NDAs.

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