This was originally published on to support small and emerging business startups in the early stages of business to better understand who they serve and what problem they solve.

There are so many people putting themselves out there and doing their damnedest to make a go of it. In a world full of attention-seeking businesses trying to attract their clients, it can feel like you’re a litte fish in a sea of sharks. Especially when you’re starting out, it’s hard to get enough clients in the door and it feels like real struggle.

There are two big reasons why you’re not getting clients. Let’s start with the first one. Your work is centred around what you offer, not what your clients want or their actual desires. I have seen it time and time again, people promoting their work based on their offer, making it really hard for their clients to find them.


We think we know what they want, e.g. they want peace, they want to stop worrying about things. So we promote using lovely images of peaceful meditating yogis and beautiful lotus flowers. But this doesn’t hit the mark because it’s not where they’re at, sure they want peace but that’s not the current state they’re in.

We assume they know what they want and that it’s the best solution to their problem. Sadly our brains are wired to avoid pain before we seek out pleasure. So presenting peaceful images may not be effective.


Get into the world of your clients, what is the problem they have that you fix? If you’re a massage therapist or do healing body work, what are the symptoms they deal with that leads to them reaching out to you? Are they unwell, are they stressed? Do they have a specific pain? Go there.


The second reason is that you’re not getting feedback, probably because you’re either not asking for it or not asking for it effectively.

When someone asks “Was it good for you?“ How likely is the response, “Well actually…”? It’s got to be really bad before your clients will say anything to you directly.

Xero has a feature at the bottom left corner of their client page with three faces, smiley, frowny and neutral. When you change from one to another, they make contact.

TelCo’s will often get you to rate their service via SMS and ask how likely you are to recommend them. Disregarding how you felt about the experiences, focusing on if you got your problem resolved.

There are really easy ways to get feedback. It doesn’t have to be a net promoter score, there are plenty of ways to get insights. It can be 2-4 questions on SurveyMonkey or Typeform. Short and simple are critical here. You can also just talk to them.

It’s amazing how many companies are simply afraid to ask or just think ‘it’s not done’. But you’re a Small Business, and you CAN.


Ask yourself this: What would it take to authentically delight your clients so they will talk about you to the people in their life? How will you know? How can you find out what’s important to them?

Ask your current and/or potential clients about the problem they face, you know, the one that you can fix or address. Get really curious. When you get into a good discussion you’ll find the deeper reason for the problem.

Once you’ve talked to a few people, look at the responses and notice any themes. Look at it from how you can help them, and in particular, what your existing or past clients have said about the impact working with you has had on them.  Use this to help you understand how to offer your work to your prospective clients.


Be very deliberate in meeting them where they’re at. More often than not, they’re not thinking solution yet, especially if there is more than one way to address their problem.

For example, if they are lacking energy and you are a nutritionist, your client probably thinks they need to get more sleep. But you’re thinking about what they’re eating and what foods to avoid or eat to improve energy levels. You’re wondering how much coffee they drink. Are they thinking about food or caffeine? No, they’re thinking about lack of sleep. Or they are using coffee to deal with being tired all the time.

There’s a great saying in marketing “Sell the sizzle, not the sausage” Think about it, showing the sausage before it’s been on the bbq, or hearing the noise from it being cooked. Which is more appealing? It’s the difference between blah and mouthwatering.

What are you selling? Is it hitting the mark with your clients? Who can you connect with to help you get clear on what your prospective clients want and how you can best serve them? How can you attract their attention so they know you are the solution to their problem? Get creative, that’s the fun part.

Do you have a business idea or are starting out with your first business? We can help you get clear on what to focus on and how to move forward when you feel stuck or unsure. Contact us to talk more about your business, concept or idea.