Fake it Till You Make it

As a new business owner, one of the biggest problems that you’ll face is proving to new clients that you have the experience as a business to meet their needs. It’s just human nature. Everyone is careful with their money and they would rather go with a company that has a proven track record and not someone doing the work “on the side.” In some ways, it becomes a Catch-22. You can’t get clients until you have experience, and you can’t get experience until you get clients. As a new business, we faced similar problems and had some tough times getting clients for a while. We learned some “tricks” to make our business look bigger than it actually was – how to “fake it till you make it”, to borrow the saying

How to Make Your Business Look Bigger than it Really is

  1. Give Away Your Service for “Free” – This is a common piece of advice that you’ll see and something that I don’t really like, so we put a little spin on it. You don’t want to attract people who are just looking for a deal. It’s the wrong kind of client who will take advantage of you and never be happy with the service that you provide. However, it’s still a good way to get the credentials you need to refer to when selling your product or service to other businesses. What we did is give away our products to our clients at our “expense”. Usually, there was some sort of “Cost of Goods Sold” that we incurred and we told them up front about this. They were willing to pay this token amount because they knew it was still a great deal, and we got some money, and the test clients that we wanted. In fact, we often used these clients to test our product (again, we disclosed this too) so it was actually just part of product development.
  2. Hire a Receptionist – This is one of my favorite tricks that we used. By having someone answer all your incoming calls, your business suddenly gains a huge amount of credibility. Once businesses can support someone to answer the phones, most people will think that it’s successful. So what we did was hire someone at Kshs 10,000 per month to answer any incoming calls that we got. She would answer the calls and just e-mail us the messages or call us back if it was urgent. It didn’t take too much time for her and it was cheap enough for us. We just provided her with a mobile phone.
  3. Outsource your Work – One of the more subtle ways to look bigger than you actually are is to outsource your work and then refer to them when talking to clients. If a client is asking you to complete some work and you say “I’ll have to check with my designer to see when I can get that to you”, it sounds a lot better than, “I’m really swamped this week – I’ll try to get to it when I can”. You also can say that you have several people working in your business. Probably a little too much in the gray area, but if you’re asked point-blank and saying you’re a one-person shop won’t work, it’ll do. Even if you tell clients you outsource most of the work, it’s usually ok, because it sounds like you’re a growing business.
  4. Work with Partners – Besides coming with a stable full of qualified clients, one of the reasons that we wanted to work with partners when selling our products was that it afforded us the chance to build up our client list on our partners’ back. While we can’t refer to these clients directly when talking to prospects (or we just say that we have them through a partner agreement), we can still cite experience that we have working with clients.

Lying directly to your prospects isn’t a good idea because they’ll figure you out eventually. But if you can fake it till you make it by using the tips outlined above, you will find that it becomes much easier to attract new clients as prospects know that you are a successful business with a good track record.

How else can you fake it?

Additional Resources


  1. NICE! I like the receptionist one the most! Also i think having a classy website with loads of information goes a long way.

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