Getting your first clients or customers is rarely easy, but it’s always exhilarating. We asked some of the brightest folks we know to take a stroll down memory lane to talk to us about how they got their first customers back when just starting out.

Sommer Grandchamp | Founder & Author


Initially, I created a separate social media account to promote my product and began adding people I didn’t know. I was afraid to share my product with people I personally know because of how intimately focused on mental health it was. I got the courage to share on my personal Instagram and Facebook about my product and sales came in so fast that it took our website down!

About me: I’m just a normal gal with OCD who creates mindfulness and emotional regulation journals that help people manage their everyday stress.

Dion Studinski | Professional Dog Trainer and Business Owner

I’ve often been asked how I got my start in the dog training industry and how I’ve grown my business so quickly.

Here are two tips I’d recommend for getting your first clients:

1. Grow your network

Joining a group like BNI (Business Networking International) is a great way to expand your referral network. Their weekly meetings will introduce you to other local business owners, ranging from florists to attorneys. This is an excellent way to share referrals with people who are already established in your community. Plus, they offer many free educational opportunities, where you can learn from the successes—and failures—of other local business owners.

2. Reach out to friends, family, and colleagues

Let them know about your exciting new venture and that you’re actively seeking new clients and referrals. The saying is a cliché, but people want to work with someone they know, like, and trust. A referral from a trusted source can take a lot of the apprehension out of working with someone who is just starting their own business. Although it can be tempting to offer steep discounts or work for free, this can backfire down the road. Be sure to avoid common pitfalls by setting clear expectations and pricing before the work begins.

About me: Originally from Minnesota, I studied entrepreneurship and graphic design before moving to Colorado over ten years ago. I started Ancillary K9, a Denver-based, concierge dog training company after struggling to find someone who could genuinely help train my once-overly aggressive dog. My frustration grew as trainers were recommending silly things like throwing cheese in the opposite direction. My dog needed a more direct approach. Thankfully, I was taken under the wing of one of the top-working and protection dog trainers in the nation. Today, Ancillary K9 focuses on obedience training, behavioral problem solving, aggressive-behavior mitigation, and court-ordered dog training and evaluations. You can learn more by viewing the links below.

Samantha Schultz | Owner & Lead Travel Planner

Plan Your Perfect Vacation isn’t what you think of when you hear the word travel agency. Our clients are exceptional people who value their time and seek expertise when it comes to how they spend their precious free time. They’re looking for life enriching international experiences, many they may not even know exist. This goes beyond the old travel agency days of simply booking a plane ticket and hotel. We cater to clientele that expect more out of their vacations, coupled with a VIP level of service – this is what makes Plan Your Perfect Vacation different. Getting to that point of really understanding who was our ideal client was difficult. As a new business owner, often you start to work with anyone that reaches out or connects with you….until you realize that finding the right client only allows you to serve them the best and saves you so much time and headache. My clientele has been almost 100% word of mouth referrals since day 1, with the exception of year 2 when I participated in two bridal shows. The referrals from networking with other business owners, friends, colleagues and then referrals from the leads at the bridal shows are how the referrals have continued to build and grow year over year to where I know have clients all over the United States! If I were to start over today and do things differently, I would have gotten much more clear, sooner, as to who was my ideal client and being able to communicate that to anyone that reaches out or is sent my way. If you spend more time on people that are referred to you that aren’t the right fit, you’re only taking away from the time you can spend with the right clients and working in and on your business. I also would have started with finding strategic referral partners in industries that work with the same type of clients and create partnerships for sharing leads.

About me: I am the owner of a travel agency that creates customized international itineraries. With over 62 countries traveled, I focus on planning life enriching experiences with a VIP level of service for my clients.

Sani Field | Founder

Frances Marron Photography:

When I first started this business nearly 10 years ago, I built my client roster by visiting businesses that I felt needed a social media presence. I was living in Boulder at the time, so I started this endeavor with local restaurants. I felt the restaurant space had the biggest pain point when it came to having a dedicated person head up social media efforts. I converted 60% of the owners I visited to clients. After about 3 months, all clients came through word of mouth and referrals, so I didn’t feel the need to sell my services by cold calling. I wouldn’t change a thing, to be honest. I think at the time, when social media was still fairly new for businesses, it was important for owners to see me in person and learn about the importance of having an online presence. This also gave me an opportunity to really dive deep into what each company needed from me to succeed.

About me: SunnySide Social Media is a very personal boutique firm that consults, develops, and executes online marketing, web development, and social media strategies for locally and nationally-based businesses. We pride ourselves in working seamlessly with our clients’ teams to become a valuable asset for their brand.

Victor Teran | Master Instructor Trainer

Starting any business from the ground up can be extremely stressful. When I first opened my business, I did not know the business aspect. I did not understand the importance of social media. I realized that I needed to post informative training videos, in order for people to know I even existed. Since moving to Arvada, and recently re-opening my business; I know exactly what I need to do to be successful, and to reach new clientele. 1. The first advice is to get on social media. 2. Be informative 3. Be the subject matter expert 4. Post post post 5. The blurb must be educational Promote your business. Become part of a committee. If dealing with kids, reach out to your local elementary school. Sometimes guerrilla marketing comes to play. Meaning, print flyers and distribute to homes or people walking the neighborhood and streets. You have to walk the walk, and talk the talk! This is your passion, that’s why you created your business. So put the time and effort to make it successful. Build rapport with neighbors, parents and other businesses. Your business is your other home, you will be spending a lot of time there… So make it worthwhile and always brainstorm on your next promotion and/or event!

About me: I am a Taekwon-Do Master Instructor. 8th degree black belt. Three-time MA hall of Fame. Two-time MA Hall of Honors. Featured in Chuck Norris’s, ‘ Master and Legend’, and Ernie Reyes Sr. ‘Changing Lives’ autobiography book. Award-winning martial arts school. Award-winning Children’s book author.