Starting a Business? Reach Out

Published on June 14, 2014 by Eric Weld

I learned a very important lesson early in my business-building experience. It’s so important and such an essential lesson that I have placed it among the small list of business mantras I repeat at least once a day.

Every time I reach out something good comes of it.

reachoutblogI write it down and repeat it daily because if I don’t remind myself of the importance and effectiveness of reaching out, I may tend to forget how valuable it is. The fact is, for some people, outreach to others is easy and fun. I envy that ease some people have with schmoozing and building relationships. For me, and many others, the prospect of approaching someone you don’t know and striking up a conversation out of the blue can be scary.

But believe me when I say, it is well worth it. What I have learned over time is that reaching out to others can be difficult to initiate, but enjoyable once it begins, and easier the more you do it.

Reaching out and letting people know you’re here and you are launching and running this business, and you can help them in such-and-such a way, is one of the most important early steps.

Its importance goes beyond just informing people of your business. It also provides a reflexive mental boost. It solidifies your status, in your own perception, as a business person. Once you’ve stated, out loud to another person, your availability to serve them or provide a product that they might need, it becomes real for you. And the more that person shares the news, and the wider your original statement spreads, the more actual your side business becomes, both in existence and in your self-attitude.

So tell people about your side business, proudly and loudly. Even if you’re in the run-up stage, tell people about your soon-to-open business, get the word circulating, receive some feedback, have a conversation.

Here’s How

Something else I’ve learned about reaching out is this: people are interested in business, and fascinated by entrepreneurs. While I believe anybody can launch and run a side business, most people who would like to won’t even try it (that’s a good thing, it cuts down on your competition!). It involves a little risk, some serious intention, commitment, sociability, perseverance, and know-how about your product or service.

Entrepreneurism can be very rewarding, and a lot of fun, but it’s not necessarily easy. Most people would rather punch a time clock than initiate their own business. So they’re intrigued by those of us who do have the chutzpah to step out and make our own business. And they want to talk about it.

Try this: next time you’re having a casual conversation—with a receptionist at the dentist’s office, or the check-out person at a retail store, your server at a restaurant, at the post office, at a party, or wherever—mention that you are starting a business, and see what happens. I would put money on the next sentence that comes out of the other person’s mouth: “What kind of business?” or “Interesting, tell me about your business” or something to that effect.

Then you’re on. Time for your elevator pitch.

The same applies to other forms of communication: email, telephone, texting, letter-writing (does anyone do that anymore?), Facebook, LinkedIn and other online options.

In addition to casual mentions of your business, you should plan early intentional communications as well. Compile a list of all your business contacts, friends and family members who you think would be interested in your side business, for whatever reason, even if it’s just because they love you and are interested in your activities.

Prepare an email note, in a conversational tone (in your voice) detailing your business, what it’s called, what it offers or will offer, ways you or your product may be of service, and—most importantly—how they can get in touch with you, including an invitation to respond to the email with feedback, thoughts, comments or advice.

You will likely be surprised by the positive response. I know I was. My first outreach resulted in more business than I could handle, and my first company was up and running. I’ve since employed many other marketing methods, but word-of-mouth continues to be where a good percentage of my business comes from.