Find Business Grants
Graphic image of letter A

How Do Startup Companies Get Projects?

Starting a new business is an exciting time for you as an entrepreneur. You likely have a great product or service to offer, and a burning passion to make a difference in your sector, but turning that offering into real projects and revenue can be difficult, especially in the early stages.

How Do Startup Companies Get Projects?

Starting a new business is an exciting time for you as an entrepreneur. You likely have a great product or service to offer, and a burning passion to make a difference in your sector, but turning that offering into real projects and revenue can be difficult, especially in the early stages.

Startups face numerous challenges in the face of their ambition and potential, but don’t let that dissuade you from making that pivotal first step. With some strategic planning and persistence, you can begin to build a steady stream of clients and projects before long.

Defining Your Target Market

One of the first steps for startups is identifying and understanding your target customers. As a startup, it's tempting to want to serve everyone, but that scattershot approach rarely succeeds.

The most effective way to start earning projects that you can feasibly complete to a high standard is to develop a clear profile of who your ideal customers are, including:

  • Industry verticals

  • Company sizes

  • Specific roles and titles

  • Geographic locations

  • Common pain points

  • Budget ranges

Take time to research and analyse who will truly benefit from your offerings. Will you be best placed to serve customers on a B2B or B2C basis, or could you do a healthy mixture of both? It’s important to note that you may be able to expand your customer base over time.

However, focusing your early marketing on your ideal customers will enable you to hone your messaging and outreach.

Crafting Value Propositions

Once you identify your targets, you need to develop compelling value propositions tailored to each persona. Avoid generic claims and instead create messaging that speaks directly to their needs, clearly explaining how your product or service solves their pain points in a unique way.

For example, if you serve local offices and warehouses, emphasise that they can significantly improve their carbon footprint and reduce CO2 emissions when they invest in high-quality commercial solar panels.

As another example, if you sell pension advice as a service directly to individuals, emphasise that they can overcome any financial obstacles, bring pensions together in a single pot, and receive actionable, professional advice.

Back up your arguments or claims with evidence, such as metrics, customer case studies, reviews, or research findings. Your messaging should focus on the tangible outcomes and ROI you can deliver to each customer segment.

Leveraging Your Network

As a young company, it’s likely that you don’t have disparate sales and marketing teams with defined budgets, much lessone that’s huge. That's why tapping into your existing network is critical for those first stages of your startup endeavour.

Look first at who you already know, such as:

- Friends and family members
- Previous employers and colleagues
- Alumni and professional groups
- Investors and advisors

Ask your network for introductions to their own contacts who may benefit from your offering. Even if those connections aren't right for you, they may be able to refer you to someone who is. When reaching out for referrals, be clear about your ideal customer profile; the more targeted you are, the more likely your contacts can connect you with the right potential clients.

From this, you can identify more prospects and companies through member directories, list providers, and industry events to build your targeted prospect list. Start locally to minimise travel time and costs, and as you progress, expand your prospecting opportunities.

Optimising Your Website

Your website can be one of your strongest assets for attracting new startup projects. Ask yourself if your site clearly communicates who you serve and the outcomes you provide. If clients aren't immediately gripped, consider optimising your homepage, services pages, and industry content to be more customer-focused and value-driven.

Be sure to provide strong calls-to-action across your site to capture leads, whether this is through free consultations, no-obligation trials, proposal requests, mailouts, demos, or marketing material, the opportunities to engage can open up more potential sales conversations.

Leveraging Content Marketing

Developing targeted content for your startup website opens the door to organic visibility on search engines.

Look at the information your prospects care about and create helpful blog posts, case studies, whitepapers, evergreen content, and other assets that address those needs.

Promote that content through multiple channels:

Publish on your site and social media
Repurpose relevant content or case studies into videos and podcasts
Distribute in email and newsletters
Contribute as a guest to industry publications
Submit to online directories like Crunchbase

This strategic content marketing will increase your search visibility and authority over time, pulling more qualified traffic to your site. Be patient, as content marketing for startups takes time to drive results. With the right approach, you can generate passive and active interest in your brand and products or services.

Attending Industry Events

Industry conferences, meetups, and trade shows are invaluable for startups seeking new projects. These events get you direct networking access to many prospects at once and often pave the way for warm-hot leads since prospects invariably meet you face-to-face.

Come prepared with plenty of promotional materials to leave behind and business cards to hand out to prospects.

Joining Relevant Associations

Joining industry associations and technology partnership programmes opens doors to connecting with other companies in your space. These groups facilitate partnership opportunities and new business referrals and often provide access to their membership directories.

You can network with fellow members at association events, structured conferences or meetings, and often promote your offerings through their communication channels. Paid partnership programmes, like those offered by organisations in your space, as well as third-party membership-only groups like BNI, provide startups with technical support but also introductions to potential customers.

Offering Free Trials

If applicable, providing free trials or pilots of your services or products can be persuasive in showing real value. Many prospects want to assess the quality and workability of products thoroughly before making a commitment to purchasing them outright. Limited-time free access or trial demonstrations alleviate this pain point and give customers a first-hand look at what you’re offering.

You do need to set reasonable boundaries on trial periods to avoid abuse. But this approach can be very effective at both landing new business and converting trials into paying accounts.

Starting Small

Some startups make the mistake of focussing on landing giant customers straight away before proving themselves on smaller projects. When just starting out, be open to smaller contracts with new prospects to demonstrate your capabilities.

The likely income generated may not be as substantial as landing a huge contract, but these prospects are harder to reach without definitive proof that you’re capable of delivering.

As you build experience and trust, you can better position yourself for larger contracts. View ‌smaller, incremental projects as stepping stones to bigger accounts. Over time, you may be able to deliver a healthy balance of both.

Remaining Persistent

Launching a successful startup that secures consistent projects requires grit. You will likely face rejection, disagreements, frustration, and slow periods at times. The most important thing is to remain focused on your long-term vision and persist through the ups and downs.

Keep selling, marketing, networking, and promoting your business at every opportunity. The more times prospects are exposed to your brand, the more likely they will become customers. Persistence and consistency pay off over time as your reputation grows.

Guest writer

Guest Articles Welcomed

As we cannot be experts in every relevant subject, we would love to receive 'guest' articles that may be of interest to anyone running their own business or thinking of doing so. ADD YOUR ARTICLE