Why getting your first sale is key

Without paying customers your business cannot succeed in the long-term.

Yet it’s likely when you first start your business you’ll start by spending money (not earning it) on:

  • Website domains and hosting
  • Phone calls
  • Travelling
  • Computer and software
  • Training
  • Stationery

You’ve probably got a little money saved to start with, and can probably find more if needed.

However, as soon as you start, it’s like you turn over an invisible sand timer that counts down to the downfall of your business.

Often this is referred to using an aircraft analogy as the ‘runway’ for your business. i.e. How long you have before you either ‘take-off’ or crash in a big ball of flame.

While you have no sales, you’ll approach the end of your runway quickly. Getting external investment to pay for your running costs, or earning money via a part-time job can lengthen the runway, but it doesn’t help you take-off.

Getting customers paying you money early on is like changing your little propellor aeroplane into a Harrier jump-jet with special thrusters that propel you upward.

Little propellor plane

Your business WITHOUT incoming cash

Harrier Jump-Jet

Your business WITH incoming cash


However, the money is actually not why you should be focused on getting your first sales before anything else.

The reason you should be focused on your first sale is to get ‘validation’.

The most common reason for startup failure is that the entrepreneur makes a product that no one wants.

The way to avoid this trap is to focus on getting a customer to buy from you early on.

Getting these first sales will give you validation that your offering solves a real problem because real customers are prepared to hand over hard cash for the solution!

There is much confusion about what you need to do to get these first sales though.

Terminology and jargon like ‘MVP’ (minimum viable product), ‘Validation’, ‘Traction’ and ‘Beta products’ are often misunderstood and lead entrepreneurs down the wrong track where they end up creating Adverts, Opt-in pages, Prototypes and Landing Pages.

So, let me make this simple for you! You need pre-orders. (Customers who hand over money in exchange for the promise of a product/service in future.)

Some entrepreneurs immediately recoil at this notion. They might ask:

You mean I should create a prototype / MVP and sell that via a landing page?”

No, I don’t.

I mean making sales based on talking directly to a customer and just describing what the product will do.

Don’t think this is possible?

What if I were to offer to clean your house for $5?

Of course you can buy this service without me first cleaning your house in advance or demonstrating it!

You might need some clarifications from me before being willing to hand over the money, such as “What’s included / excluded? When will it get done? How clean will it be?” but ultimately I can describe what you’ll get and you can decide whether it is worth the money I’m asking for.

If you agree, I can take the money on the promise that the service will be delivered. If I fail to deliver, you’ll ask for the money back. (Nicely at first, then with the support of a police officer!)

By doing this, you’ll confirm that people are willing to pay for the product / service you provide (before wasting a load of time and money on things like branding!)

That’s all you need to do!

OK, ‘getting pre-orders’ is still a lot easier said than done and when done wrong can result in you building a business that you don’t want!

So to help you, I’d like to share a 6-step process I use with other Parentpreneurs to help them achieve this all-important milestone whilst ensuring the business will deliver the life they want.(I think you’ll find it really useful!)


About The Author

Alexis Kingsbury

Alexis is founder of the Parentpreneur Accelerator and Making Greatness Ltd. He is a serial entrepreneur, with experience creating start-ups in a variety of areas, particularly in SaaS and EdTech. He is also a lucky husband and proud dad, and now helps other 'parentpreneurs' like him to achieve their dreams of having successful businesses, making a difference in the world, and spending time with the people they love.

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