Overcoming Fear to Secure Your First Client

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What holds most people back in business is, on the surface, simple: they’re not taking action. Or they’re taking the wrong action, running down an arbitrary checklist of to-dos before doing the one thing that’s actually going to bring in business. 

It’s almost always fear that’s holding someone back and keeping them in the safe zone. If you’ve been considering launching your own consulting business for years but still haven’t made the move– because the timing wasn’t right or a million other excuses– it’s probably fear that’s talking. 

Here’s exactly how to identify and overcome that fear to launch your business and create success. 

What you think needs to be done

Before you can start a business you need to check some things off the list, right? General guidelines say that you need a solid business plan and a logo, to file for an LLC, and build out a website. These are all nice things that give your business legitimacy but at the end of the day, they don’t move the needle on your business. 

Only one thing does and that’s setting up calls. Yes, that means getting on the phone– or Zoom– with your network and leveraging that existing network to build your network out further (more on exactly how to do this later). 

Is there a little voice in the back of your head saying “Oh, I don’t have people in my network that can hire me?” That’s your fear talking and giving you a reason not to take action. It might even be true, but that’s okay. Because those people can introduce you to more people in your industry, helping you build out your network and giving you more connections and opportunities for work. 

It’s the single highest-leverage thing you can do. Need proof? 

When Mylance founder and CEO Bradley Jacobs started consulting, he didn’t have any of those prerequisites. No LLC, no idea what his niche would be or what rates he should charge– and he still landed his first client. That client turned out to be a home run at $25k/month for 9 months clocking in at 25 hours a week. 

The company that hired him didn’t care about a website; they cared that the person coming in could solve their problem. Jacobs landed that client by going back through his LinkedIn messages and responding to anyone who had reached out to him about his work at Uber saying that he’d left Uber and wasn’t looking for full-time work but was interested in taking on part-time work where he could apply his Uber experience to help other companies grow. 

Most messages didn’t get a response or the response was “no”. But all it takes is one “yes” to get started and change your life. It did for him.

Normalizing the fear

Here’s where we want to take a moment to say: it’s incredibly normal to be scared. There’s a sense in our society that we need to move up in the world, we need to continue to do better, and somehow we’re going to get there by never hearing “no”. 

Going out on your own is scary because you are going to get knocked down a few times and most of us aren’t used to that– especially if we come from a long line of relatively stable, full-time jobs. It’s scary, it’s often painful, and because we know it’s going to suck we hold ourselves back from experiencing that discomfort. 

If you decide you’re going to become a business owner you have two choices: 

  1. Face that fear 
  2. Realize that owning a business is not for you 

There’s nothing wrong with the second choice. Owning a business is not for everyone and finding another full-time job or working for a consultancy might be a better fit. But if it is for you, you need to stop letting the fear hold you back and do the work that will actually move the needle. 

What actually needs to be done and how to do it 

That needle-moving work is doing basic outreach and setting up calls. Immediately you might be put off. But how are you going to get clients if you’re not willing to reach out? 

Start small and make a list of people in your network to reach out to, 5-10 people in the beginning. These are people who know you, so they’re more likely to say yes to a catch-up call, which is what this is. In the course of catching up, you might discover that there’s an opportunity for you to work together but that’s not the main objective. You want to ask them how it’s going with their company, with their manager, and their role then catch them up on your new venture in the same way. 

At the end you’ll make your request: can you introduce me to two other people in your network? Even better, go in prepared and look through their connections to identify who you’d like to be introduced to. Offer to write up introductory messages they just need to tweak and send so it’s as low-lift for them as possible. That makes them even more likely to say yes. 

If the thought of doing this kind of outreach still feels intimidating, think of it this way: if one of your old colleagues reached out to catch up and asked you to make some introductions to people in your network, you’d say yes, right? Especially if they made it easy for you! 

Once you talk to those new introductions, you can ask them for introductions too– and then you’ve got a continuous pipeline of potential business. Not every connection and call will be a good fit, but you just need to find the few that are. Keep yourself top-of-mind with the rest of your connections by leveraging LinkedIn thoughtfully and intentionally. 

Fear is the lead-killer

In the end, it’s only you holding yourself back. There’s no way to sugarcoat it: it’s no one else's job to launch your business but you. Every day that you spend on tweaking your business plan or building out your LinkedIn profile is one more day that you haven’t launched. 

We hope that you can move past any fear you’re facing with these actionable steps and land that first client that will make all the difference to your business. 


This value-added article was written by Mylance. Mylance specializes in identifying the highest quality, most curated leads for your fractional business. We use 5 different criteria to identify companies and decision-makers who are likely to need your expertise:

  1. Matches your niche / unique expertise.
  2. Likely to have the budget.
  3. Gaps on their team in your function.
  4. Are fractional-friendly.
  5. Have warm connections from your network.

To apply for access, submit an application and we'll evaluate your fit for the service. If you’re not ready for lead generation, we also have a free, vetted community for top fractional talent that includes workshops, a rates database, networking, and a lot of free resources to support your fractional business.

Written by:

Bradley Jacobs
Founder & CEO, Mylance

I help tech professionals refine your consulting niche so you can land 5-figure per month consulting deals.

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