Your First 10 Customers

Does anyone else follow Gary Vaynerchuk?

In case you never heard of him, Gary Vaynerchuk, or ‘GaryVee’ is a social-media-guru, par excellence. He established himself in the late 90’s after creating one of the first ecommerce wine sites, WineLibrary, helping his father grow the family business from $4 Million to $60 Million in annual sales. But these days he is more well known for publishing videos on how to become a successful entrepreneur.

Some of you may have seen his ‘inspirational’ posts on Instagram or Snapchat. Those are really good for getting motivated, but even better is the practical advice he gives on his YouTube Channel #AskGaryVee. In the show, he interviews accomplished guests such as Tim Ferris, CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, Jewel and one of my favourites, Tony Robbins. My favourite part is when he accepts calls from viewers who often ask great, practical questions that Gary Vee almost always answers with substance.

A few months back Vaynerchuk published a book entitled #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness which is a collection of insights from the 200+ episodes he’s posted so far. I started reading it yesterday and already have found a few gems. Here is Gary’s answer to the question ‘What was the hardest thing about starting up VaynerMedia [Vaynerchuk’s relatively new media company]?‘:

It wasn’t leaving Wine Library. It wasn’t launching a new business with another family member. It wasn’t jumping into the agency world with zero experience. It was all the options I had at my disposal. During the first nine months we were launching the agency I was troubled by the fact that there were about eight hundred other things my brother, AJ, and I could have done together, and it was hard not to look back at all those opportunities and wonder, did we do the right thing? In addition, that same year my daughter Misha was born and I published my first business book, Crush It. There was so much going on—was this venture the best use of my time? The second-guessing was brutal. You’ve surely experienced this kind of buyer’s remorse after making a big decision. Almost everyone has. Kids when they finally pick a college. Managers when they make a hire. Entrepreneurs when they invest. Because you know that there’s always that chance you messed up and missed the next big thing. The perfect school. The perfect hire. The monster dividends. We all have our #onealmond moment. (Not familiar with it? I talk about it in Chapter 16, on investing.) At some point, however, you’ve got to hike up your big-boy pants, accept the decision you’ve made, and move on. After all, you made your decision for a reason, so trust your judgment. There’s no point in looking back. Even if you discover you made a mistake, you’ll be okay, because every option will get you something. It might be a return on an investment, or it might be a lesson learned. Sometimes it’s hard to tell right away which is going to be the more valuable. Either way, so long as you don’t shy away from making decisions, so long as you aren’t content to sit and dither, you will never be left with zero. Suck it up. Make the call. And remember: Be grateful if you’re lucky enough to have too many options. It’s a blessing and a half.

Other times his comments are more about the nitty-gritty. Like when a caller asks him ‘How do I get the first ten customers for a creative service startup?’:

 I once made a video where I showed the visitors to how to cold-call potential customers on the air and get people to consider doing business with me. I had no script, other than to articulate exactly what kind of value I thought my blog could bring to anyone who might advertise on my site. It was a short, pleasant conversation that ended with the potential customer agreeing to review some ideas if I ever put them to paper and sent them to him. I’d call that a productive phone call. If I had been a new entrepreneur trying to find those first customers, I would have immediately picked up the phone again and dialed a new potential customer. And then I’d have done it again, and again, and again, for as long as I could that day, and the next, and the next. To get those first ten customers, you have to grind. You can’t be shy, my friends. Just roll up to every single person in the world who might possibly buy your stuff (meaning who already buys into at least the concept of your idea or product; see two questions up) and ask them to buy your stuff.

Practical and at the same time inspiring. I highly recommend checking him out.