Don’t TELEGRAPH the fact you are a “new business owner” when just starting out…

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by Tom Watson on September 20, 2015

Obviously I get a lot of emails concerning start-up related questions. Many of them revolve around reaching out to people and or companies and trying to get their business.

One of the main issues people have concerns writing a cover letter, letter of introduction or simply how to “break the ice” with potential customers.

And out of that group of questions, many people worry about “being new” and how the potential customer will perceive that. I understand that particular worry, as I was in their shoes once. But REST ASSURED, your “experience level” rarely if ever comes up on small to mid-sized accounts.

Sure… every once in a great while someone will ask you for some references, but that was never the norm for me. It only happened once in a great while. So my point is… RELAX. The only way anyone will know you are “new” is if YOU TELL THEM.

Now let me define a little better what I mean by this. When you are just starting out, it is a GOOD (correct that, GREAT) idea that you promote the fact to all you know PERSONALLY that you just started a business. The people you have known over the years… it’s OK to tell them you are “just starting out”.

When you do that, it helps SPREAD AWARENESS about you and may get you an account or two. What I’m talking about with this post is the concept that you don’t want to PROMOTE the fact you are new when meeting everyone else (those you don’t know/potential customers). Just stick to the basics and LISTEN to what their needs are then come up with a plan to address them.

If for some reason your experience level gets raised during the interview process, then by all means TELL THEM THE TRUTH. With that said, going around making mention that “you just started” a business is best left unsaid. It would hurt you more than help you in most cases.

On a side note, the best two ways to avoid looking “new” are easy to pull off. First, come across as “confident”. After all, there is no reason not to be, as you are only interviewing to take out their trash and do light cleaning in most cases. And secondly, make sure you “look the part” by dressing well. Appearance matters as it helps to make a POSITIVE IMPRINT in the customers head. Don’t be afraid. You can do it!

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lisa September 20, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Hi there, just want to let you know that you are absolutely correct. When I started my company last month I did just that… I acted confident, looked the part, pretended like I knew exactly what was going on, and, within a week, I had 4 contracts, and now a month later have 8 contracts with a few occassionals.

Keep the faith! You will succeed if you want to!


2 Tom Watson September 20, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Hi Lisa! THANKS for sharing that. You did EXACTLY what you needed to do. I’m so happy for you. Keep it going!

3 Rose Surla September 21, 2015 at 10:33 am

I read somewhere (not sure if it’s from you or someone else) that people tend to want to try out a newly opened business. So I wrote in my sales letter ” newly opened”. Still waiting for somebody to take the bait. I’m confused now.

4 Tom Watson September 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

Hi Rose! People will have different opinions on this topic. Mine is that it’s not a good idea. With that said, I’m talking about it in the context of a “cleaning business”. If you were opening a restaurant, then I would be all for making mention that a “grand opening” was occurring. But even restaurants that have a grand opening don’t add “BTW, this is my first restaurant”. They just stick to the “we’re new in town, try us out” line of thought.

5 Rose Surla September 21, 2015 at 11:13 am

Thanks, Tom! I will remove those words from my sales letter. I am having a tough time coming up with a convincing sales letter to offices. I’m leaning towards offices because compared to residential, I can charge a little bit more. Thank you for all your hard work in helping low to middle incomers like me succeed in our own small business. Your a great American!

6 HP September 22, 2015 at 7:16 am


7 Tom Watson September 22, 2015 at 9:17 am

Thanks Rose! Email me via the contact form on the website and I’ll help you out on the copy for your letter.

8 Tom Watson September 22, 2015 at 9:18 am

Happy to help HP!

9 lisa September 22, 2015 at 2:28 pm


Maybe Rose should try saying new to your area, or something of that sort. Or even reply to local ads that are asking for cleaners. That way she will already know they are looking for one (or two) and then they may refer her to their collegues.

Just a thought 🙂


10 Rose September 23, 2015 at 9:55 am

Thanks, Lisa! I really appreciate your advice. Sometimes I forget that there are many more ways to get customers, I just need to be coached or reminded. Well, right now it’s a one-man job, sort of baby steps to becoming a real company. But I am loving the challenge. I am grateful to Mr. Watson for this forum/website. God bless.

11 lisa September 23, 2015 at 11:26 am

Me too Rose! I have listen to almost all of his podcasts, they offer a lot of great info. This is my second business so I kind of got the hang of it with my first one I opened in 2010, nothing to do with cleaning though lol!

Another thing I found helpful was leaving my flyers at new office buildings as soon as they get leased out to businesses, often I would think that a new office leasee would at least be interested in hearing about your service because they are new to the area and may not have had the option of bringing their cleaner with them due to location etc.

🙂 lisa

12 Tom Watson September 23, 2015 at 11:31 am

THANKS to Lisa and Rose for the kind words. I’m happy to help in any way I can.

13 Joe Caruso September 24, 2015 at 2:30 pm

When just starting a business, what are your thoughts on getting a virtual phone service and a PO Box or shared office space? Is it worth spending the money in the beginning so as not to have to change your information down the road?

14 Tom Watson September 24, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Hi Joe! Changing the info down the road is no big deal, as that will happen as you grow the business. Having an answering service of some kind is not a bad idea as a lost call means lost income. So that is worth it if you can afford it in the beginning. The office space… I would use your kitchen table or something to save money. I had a small desk in a one bedroom condo when I first started. When I needed to meet potential employees, I met them at a Dunkin Donuts or similar place. And clients are met on site, so no big deal meeting them.

15 Joe Caruso September 25, 2015 at 9:58 am

Thanks Tom. Yeah, I’m trying to keep my costs as low as possible. Starting at zero is better than starting in the negative.
I also want to say thanks for the podcasts. They have been a help and a big encouragement to me.

16 Tom Watson September 25, 2015 at 10:30 am

Hi Joe! You have a good strategy, the lower the money out of pocket the better. Anyway… I’m happy you enjoy the podcasts. Also… if you ever have a question just comment on a post, email me or call me. I’ll help you out.

17 cyndi thomas September 30, 2015 at 10:09 am

Hi Tom, Just found you in desperation. I started my business in may and have been on a roller coaster ride. work was ok residentially but then its only one time cleanings. Im at a downward slope. I need to work!!! I’m so happy you came across my computer.. I wasted a ton of money with a company called homeadvisor. duped into to thinking they are actually helping the smaller business. I gave 300.00 for a memebership then they told me you have to pay for leads as well. so far every lead led to more money they took out of my account. live and learn. I’m excited to read your articles and listen to your podcasts.
thank you

18 Tom Watson September 30, 2015 at 10:13 am

Hi Cyndi! I’m happy you found me too. Anyway… Browse around and learn as much as you can. If you need anything, just touch base.

19 Jenifer T November 10, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Hi Tom!!

Really happy I have come across you! I recently took a job as a sells rep for a new janitorial company. Aside from the owner there is no one to help me with this new business. I have started knowing ZERO information about how to even begin to get clientele for this new company. Thanks to you I’m beginning to get a bit of confidence that just maybe I can make this work and be successful. Thank you!!

20 Tom Watson November 11, 2015 at 10:39 am

Wow… THANKS Jenifer. I think you will be fine. Just be yourself, be AUTHENTIC and LISTEN to what the customer tells you (then address their needs).

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