Friends and Family as First Customers

From starting creative projects from scratch, I learned that friends and family might be a great starting point to get you going, but it is imperative that you go out of your own way to find your target audience and expand your circle of people. 

I found this lesson most obvious earlier in January when our team at the Habit Factory was launching our first UX Interview Workshop for UX Designers and UX Researchers. I found myself going around asking old peers and classmates (knowing that a handful of them would already be in the UX industry) if they knew of anybody who needed help through the UX interview process.

Roughly half knew somebody who might be interested in our workshop, and the other half didn’t. It was a 50% chance I’d find a lead with my current strategy. 

While the odds weren’t too bad, I thought there had to be an easier way to find the people I wanted to help. 

This is where expanding your network comes into play. 

Say I don’t bother connecting with new people and rely 100% on friends and family for leads. I really don’t think I’d get that far by doing this long term. I’m locked in with the people I currently know, and depend on them for expanding their circles instead of me expanding my own.

On the other hand, if I take some time to introduce myself to new designers, new creatives, design students, people transitioning into the UX industry from all over the world—suddenly the world feels a lot bigger and thus I have a larger pool of people to connect with.

If you’re starting a new business, a new project, a charity or a kickstarter, go past your family and friends as customers. Expand your immediate circle. Find the people that are interested in the help you offer. 

The Biggest Sales Lesson I’ve Learned

Every single day, without fail, we’ll get a call from our squid supplier at the restaurant. Our phone calls go something like this: 

“Hi, this is your squid supplier calling. Do you need any squid today?”

“Hold on one second as I ask the staff.”

When the answer is no, the call ends with a quick thank you. When the answer is yes, we let them know how many boxes we need.

Yesterday I finally asked my mom, “Why do these people call every day even when you don’t need their stuff?” 

To which she replied, “These are my favourite salespeople.”

I was surprised. 

“These salespeople are incredible. They always want to be the first one to call every day, because they know you need their stuff eventually. Even though it might not always be the right time, they want to catch you when it is the right time. This is how they get our business often.” 

As someone who has very little formal business background, this was the greatest sales lesson I’ve felt. 

It’s normal to be told no in a position of sales. Although if you come back again at a time that is appropriate, things just might work out. 

Don’t Worry, It’s A Great Choice

When customers are having a tough time choosing what to eat at the restaurant (a menu of over 200 items), I give them 2-3 of our best sellers to choose from to make it easier:

  1. The fried chicken on fried rice,
  2. The fried beef rice noodle,
  3. Or the salted spicy spare ribs with squid.

When they start to lean towards an option but are still hesitant, I tell them that they’re about to make a good choice, because everybody else likes that one.

The reassurance makes them feel good, and it leads to a sale.

People like making the right decisions for themselves. As a food business, we’re just here to guide them towards their right decision.