Your First 10 Clients: A Solopreneur's Guide to Landing Early Clients

A Step By Step Guide On How I Landed My First 10 Clients In 5 Months (And The System I Used To Do So)

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Whilst I use the term solopreneur in this post, I’m also referring to consultants, fractional consultants, coaches and agency owners who are just starting on their journey.

Starting on the solopreneur journey can be daunting.

You’re essentially signing up for months of uncertainty until everything eventually clicks together.

You’ve got to work out what you’re selling, who you’re selling to and then how to deliver on the work sold.

For me, on my second solopreneur journey, I was able to approach my first 3-4 months differently than the first time.

Within 5 months of sending my first message, I had signed up 10 clients, most of which fit my ideal client profile (ICP) and have a steady pipeline for future clients in Q1 of 2024.

In this lengthy post, I’m going to share the exact system I used as well as the different tactics that led to signing up these clients.

As you can see in the diagram above, the overall system is comprised of:

  1. LinkedIn & Content
  2. Partnerships & Referrals
  3. Outbound System

I recommend that you follow the steps outlined below when starting out so that you focus on the channels and tactics that generate the quickest results.

Below you’ll see how quickly these tactics helped me generate interested leads.

Throughout the rest of this post I’ll walk you through how I thought about each channel/tactic and share how it generated pipeline for my solo consulting business – (this website you’re on).

But before we dive into the tactics, let’s start with the foundation – your ideal customer profiles, buyer personas and offers.

Step 1: ICP, Personas and Offers

Many people eager to get started skip this step.

Or at least think they know who they are selling to.

However, without doing the groundwork you will struggle to get consistent results and may end up attracting the wrong type of clients.

This hasn’t happened to me this time around, but I definitely remember working with terrible clients in the past.

One of which never paid me £5,000 – cheers Glenn.

Ideal Customer Profiles

Ideal Customer Profile (or ICP) is a term used to define the type of companies that you want to work with. For most companies, the product or service that you offer will likely resonate with particular companies…rather than all companies.

An ideal customer profile is not the same thing as a customer persona or user persona. You may want to develop several user personas as well – but not until after you’ve defined an ideal customer profile.

Determining your ideal customer allows you to figure out who you should be targeting with your marketing and sales efforts.

The more detailed your profile is, the more accurately you can zero in on the companies that are most in need of your service and most likely to give you their business.

When thinking about your ICP, you should consider the following:

  • Firmographic
    • Industry
    • Geography
    • Size (annual revenue, number of employees, number of offices)
    • Budget
  • Technographic
    • What technologies do they use that is relevant to your service/product offering
  • Business-related questions:
    • What are their immediate business goals?
    • What obstacles might they face in reaching these goals?
    • What are their three biggest pain points?

It’s ok to have multiple ICP’s, however I would recommend targeting one ICP at a time – especially as a solopreneur.

Buyer Personas

These refer to the individuals within the companies that are your ICP.

The aim of buyer personas is to understand these individuals:

  • Fears and Challenges
  • Role in the buying cycle
  • Drivers and motivations
  • Problems and issues

So you can produce content, messages and have conversations that resonate with their motivations and help them overcome their objectives and challenges.

It also helps you position you and your service as the solution that will soothe their pain.

Essentially, you use the information you gather from here to understand what messages and what value you can provide your prospects.

Below are some samples of how to get more detailed with your ideal buyer.

  • Describe a day in their life.
  • What does the current environment look like for them?
  • Provide examples of your ideal buyer by linking to LinkedIn profiles.
  • What pains, challenges and frustrations do they experience?
  • Are they aware of this pain? Is it urgent?
  • What are their values (both personal and professional)?
  • What do they read, attend and follow?
  • What are their aspirations?
  • How do they buy?

Having a clear understanding of your ICP and buyer personas ensures that your Sales / Marketing efforts are targeted and efficient.

It helps in creating more relevant and engaging content and also services that resonate with your target audience.

Understanding your client’s pain points and motivations allows you to tailor your approach to meet their specific needs, leading to higher conversion rates and customer loyalty.

How I Approached My ICP and Buyer Personas

For Agency Sales Design, my ICP and personas are pretty straight forward.

In summary, my ICP’s are

  • Established agencies with a proven service
  • Selling a service over £3k per month
  • 8 – 20 people
  • 500k revenue (as an absolute minimum)

And my persona is the Agency Owner / Founder.

I also have the advantage of being my ICP and Persona, having run two agencies and co-founding one.

So this step was quite straightforward for me. However, I didn’t skip it.

When working through this process, here are a few things to consider:

  • Conduct market research to gather data about your potential customers. This can include surveys, interviews, and analysing existing customer data.
  • Look for patterns in demographics, interests, and behaviours to build a composite of your ideal customer.
  • Create detailed profiles or personas, including name, age, job role, challenges, and goals to bring them to life.
  • Continuously refine your ICP and personas based on customer feedback and market trends.
  • Use these profiles to guide all aspects of your business strategy, from product development to marketing and sales.
  • Add real life examples of companies and people (using LinkedIn) – this turns your notes from hypothesis to reality.

Your Offer

Now, I struggle with this myself. And my offer has evolved over time (and still is).

So I am in now way an expert on this topic.

However, I do need to cover it for the purpose of this post.

Your offer is the product or service you are selling. It’s not just what you sell, but also how you present it, including the value proposition and the solution it provides to the customer’s problem.

It encompasses the features, benefits, and unique selling points that differentiate your offer from competitors.

Having a clear and compelling offer is crucial for attracting and retaining clients and it helps in communicating the value and relevance of your product or service.

A well-defined offer aligns with the needs and desires of your ideal customer, making it more likely to succeed.

When thinking about your offer, it’s worth noting that companies (and people) typically purchase for the following reasons:

  • To Make More Money
  • To Save Money
  • To Save Time (Efficiency)
  • To Grow By Hiring, Onboarding & Training New Employees
  • To Mitigate Risk

In my opinion, the closer you are to helping people generate more money – the “easier” it is to sell your service.

FYI – This whole post is an example of me iterating on my offer.

How I Approached My Offer

Here are the steps I took to land on my offers:

  • Identify the primary problem or need that your product or service can address.
  • Articulate how your offer uniquely solves this problem or meets this need.
  • Develop a clear value proposition that outlines the benefits and unique aspects of your offer.
  • Test your offer with a small segment of your target market to gather feedback and make adjustments.
  • Once validated, build content around the specific problems your service can help people overcome.

There are a few people that helped shape how I thought about my offer:

  • Ken Yarmosh shares some really practical advice around targeting and your offer on LinkedIn and in his community.
  • Alex Hormozi shares incredible value around offers and sales / business growth in general – all for free too.

As I mentioned, offer creation isn’t my strongest point. However I landed on two offers for my ideal clients.

I help Agency Owners generate more pipeline that results in revenue by:

  1. Improving or implementing pipeline generation strategies which get replies and meeting booked
  2. Optimise their sales process, coach them on improving their discovery calls and working through live deals (pipeline management) to help close more of the meetings that they book.

Ok, so you’ve spent time on your ICP’s, personas and have validated some offers.

Now it’s time to tell the world!

Need Help Landing New Clients?

I'll help you implement your Pipeline Generation System and give you everything you need to generate replies and book meetings with your ideal clients.

Step 2: Update LinkedIn Profile

This is perhaps the easiest step in landing your first few clients and it’s all about positioning.

If like most solopreneurs you sell to other businesses then LinkedIn is going to be the best channel for you to optimise.

Your profile needs to explain how your service solves the challenges your ideal clients are facing.

Simple enough right?

There are two things you need to update on LinkedIn, your personal profile and your company page.

Personal Profile

This is the main real estate that you have to promote yourself.

If you haven’t already, feel free to check my profile out here:

How I Approached My Personal Profile

Personally, I recommend turning on Creator Mode if you can as it gives you more features to improve your reach.

It also allows people to follow you without connecting (I’ve had a few calls with prospects that never connected or engaged with my profile, but were following the content I was producing).

You can also add profile topics (through hashtags) and unlocks a few other cool features like:

  • LinkedIn Live
  • Audio Events
  • Newsletters (I currently have over 2000 subscribers to my newsletter)
  • Better post analytics

Once you’ve done this you can use the following checklist to ensure you’ve covered the basics.

  • Profile Picture – add a good quality photo
  • Banner – add a banner which also speaks to the problem/service you offer (I use Canva for this)
  • Headline – to explain who you help and how
  • Featured Section – to add any valuable content / links to book a call
  • About Section – to share more about your personal journey and background
  • Experience Section – add more information about who you help and how.
    • You can also add featured media here – in my case I share more links to valuable content that should resonate with my ideal clients.

Company Page

The company page is often overlooked, but I feel it is worth spending a bit of time to make sure it is optimised.

As a solopreneur, you need to build credibility and having a complete company page will help you with this.

How I Approached My Company Page

I used most of the same content and images as I used on my personal profile and also ensured that I filled in all of the fields so the profile was complete.

My advice here is to simply follow LinkedIn’s prompts and complete your profile, making sure that the links redirect to your website.

In the coming months I will spend more time posting content via the company page.

A little birdie told me that this is something that LinkedIn will be focusing on in 2024 – yet it is too early to tell at the moment.

Right, your profile is updated…time to “show me the money” right?

Let’s move onto referrals.

Step 3: Referrals

It’s overkill to design an end to end referral process at this stage.

In this section I’m going to talk about a very lean referral system, AKA an email to people in your close network.

I’ve always taken great pride in nurturing relationships with my “business friends”.

I continuously share content with them, I support their business endeavours, I buy their digital products, I check in on them, I make introductions whenever possible.

And when I visit London, I always put some money behind a bar and send an open invite to them all for a catch up.

Or I’ll do my best to grab a coffee or lunch when I’m in town / they’re visiting for an event.

There are some business friends I’ve never met in person, but catch up monthly and quarterly after Zoom.

These are people who I consider would “go to bat for me”.

And as I’ve topped up the goodwill jar over the years, I know I can reach out to them with an ask every once in a while.

As you get started in your solopreneur journey I would encourage you to also build your network of business friends.

Here are some places to start:

  • Friends who are also on LinkedIn
  • Former bosses and colleagues
  • Partners you’ve worked with
  • Clients you’ve worked with in the past
  • Other folks working in the same industry
  • Even competitors (I see most competing companies as potential partners)

How I Approached My Referrals

Once I’d updated my LinkedIn profile with the new positioning, I was ready to reach out to my “business friends”.

Here’s how I approached it:

  1. Opened a spreadsheet and wrote all their names, emails and LinkedIn URL’s
  2. Worked out if we were overdue a catch up call or we had spoken recently
    • If we were due a catch up call, my message to them would have been to schedule a call where I could share an update from my end.
  3. Drafted an email which covered:
    • Context from previous conversations
    • Update from me about what I’m doing and who I’m working with
    • Asked them for an intro to anyone they know that fits the above
  4. Sent the email

Super simple and very effective.

I received several introductions from my network to ideal clients. One of which signed up to work with me.

Additionally a few of my “business friends” also fit my ideal client profile and my new messaging resonated with their pain points.

They also signed up to work with me.

This one tactic generated my first 3 paying clients.


But I was hungry for more.

So I did what I know best…I went outbound, on LinkedIn!

Step 4: Minimal Viable Content (MVC)

But before I started pitch slapping people on LinkedIn, I wanted to make sure I had something valuable to offer.

It’s never a great idea to walk up to a stranger in a bar and ask them to marry you.

And it’s exactly the same when reaching out cold to a prospect.

The approach I like to take is to start the conversation off with value.

So I brainstormed a few content ideas which I call my Minimal Viable Content “MVC”.

Essentially this is valuable content (for my ideal clients) which doesn’t take me months to produce or have high production value.

It’s straight to the point and easy to implement.

How I Approached My MVC

  • Listed out the challenges that my ideal clients face
  • Listed out several solutions for each challenge
  • Broke down the solution into smaller sections
  • Shortlisted 2 solutions that I could focus on
  • Created the content in a branded Google Doc and changed the share settings to “view”

Content formats you can consider are:

  • Checklists
  • Frameworks
  • Templates
  • Questions/prompts

As I wrote the above, I do realise how easy I made this sound.

Having spent years in Marketing producing content across various formats definitely helped me here.

As of today, I’ve created several resources that I can use depending on the challenges of my personas.

Need Help Landing New Clients?

I'll help you implement your Pipeline Generation System and give you everything you need to generate replies and book meetings with your ideal clients.

Step 5: LinkedIn Outreach (w/ Content)

Now I had my MVP, I was ready to start spamming all my connections!

Of course, I’m joking here.

Reaching out directly on LinkedIn is one of the quickest ways to get a response.

Not everyone is as active on LinkedIn as you might be, but the majority of people who have a completed profile are likely to check LinkedIn at least once a week.

The aim of this tactic is to connect with and send messages to as many people that fit your ICP as you can.

However, you need to be mindful of LinkedIn’s current limits (as of Dec 2023):

  • 100 connection requests a week
  • No limit on messages to 1st connections – but play it safe with 20-30 per day.

How I Approached LinkedIn Outreach

In order to launch LinkedIn outreach I followed the following steps:

  1. Build a list of prospects that match my ICP and persona
    1. First look for 1st connections
    2. Second, focus on 2nd and 3rd connections
  2. Connect with them (if not connected already)
  3. Monitor new contacts that connected recently (I have this link bookmarked:
  4. Sent a message asking if they wanted me to share the content
  5. Sent the content
  6. Followed up a week later asking if they found the contact useful
  7. Attempt to convert to a meeting (if they didn’t already do so).

Over time, this generated several discovery calls. 3 of which converted into paying clients.

As I continue to refine my offer and produce more content, I will follow these steps each week in order to generate more calls.

We’re on a roll!

Let’s move onto partnerships.


Step 6: Partnerships

I love partnerships. And I leveraged these types of relationships well in my last two agencies.

In my opinion, a lot of people, especially Solopreneurs, miss out on building strong partner networks around their services.

However, not all partners are created equally. Others have more motivation to partner with you.

The aim is to build a win-win-win scenario for everyone involved.

At a high level, there are 4 types of partners:

  • Channel – tech partners
  • Strategic – complimentary services
  • Community
  • Other – brokers, VC’s etc

I’ll expand upon each one below.

Channel partner

Different categories of business (for example, a software company in your industry) and growing together.

  • If you offer Conversion Rate Optimisation services – then VWO could be a channel partner
  • If you’re an eCommerce Agency – then Shopify or BigCommerce would be a channel partner

Strategic/Agency partner

Other agencies or companies that offer complementary services to the same clients in your industry.

Think about services before your clients work with you AND after they work with you.

Also, don’t discount your competitors (especially the more established/expensive ones).

  • If you’re a podcast guest booking service – then a podcast production agency could be a strategic partner
  • If you’re a marketing automation agency – then a web development agency could be a strategic partner

Community partner

This one is pretty self explanatory, but most industries and niches have communities.
Some may be run by competitors and others can seem a little unfriendly if you’re a “pesky agency trying to peddle your wares”.

But it’s definitely worth seeing if there is an opportunity to collaborate on content.

This is less of a direct sales play here, but showing up and providing value keeps you top of mind within the community members and the community owners/facilitators.

Simply search “niche” or “job role” AND community into Google to get started with these i.e. “Product Manager Community”.

  • If you help agency owners with sales 😉 – then agency founder communities like GYDA and The Agency Collective would be a great fit
  • If you’re a product UX agency – then communities like Product Marketing Alliance could be good to join.

Other Partners

This is more of a catch all category for partners that fall outside the channel, strategic and community partners.

Examples include VC’s / Accelerators / Revenue Based Financing companies or even individual consultants or coaches that work with your ideal clients.


How I Approached Partnerships

Again, with the benefit of experience, I was able to quickly map out potential partners for my new business.

As a reminder, I’m helping agency owners with their sales. And there are tons of partners I could work with.

The first step was to create a spreadsheet, which I creatively called “Agency Land”,

I then allowed myself to fall down rabbit hole after rabbit hole looking for partners that would be a great match.

The next step was to then reach out to these potential partners to see if there was alignment and an opportunity to build a win-win-win partnership.

And there was, after a couple of months I have 3 official partners which led to:

  • 3 speaking opportunities
  • 1 paying client
  • 1 in person talk at an event next year
  • 1 paid training opportunity for 2024
  • 2 larger deals currently in the pipeline for Q1

A quick note on when it comes to finding new partners, here is a framework I’ve used in the past: Helps, Sells and Funds:

  1. Helps – your clients achieve the goals their aiming to achieve (either before they need your service or after)
  2. Sells – services or software to the same clients
  3. Funds – your clients in order for them to scale

Now we’re cooking!

I continue to reach out to new potential partners each month.

These partnerships can have a compounding effect for opening up new doors for content collaborations and client work.

Talking of content…let’s get writing.

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Step 7: Organic Content

I remember working with a Marketing Agency 10 years ago and it took weeks to produce content and design graphics.

It was so frustrating, the back and forths, the miss-interpreted briefs, the delays!

A total nightmare.

Fast forward to today, where I literally opened my laptop a few hours ago as I was feeling inspired.

I’ve written over 4,000 words and produced several images in Canva.

And I’m still going.

Marvellous really.

Again, I’m not saying this should be as easy for you as it is for me. I understand that my background in Marketing gives me an advantage here.

But, content doesn’t have to be hard.

In fact, it can be easy when you write content that helps your clients overcome their challenges.

Let’s dive in…

Consistently creating high-quality, informative content and sharing it where your prospects spend time allows you to showcase your knowledge and expertise in your field.

This helps in building trust and credibility with your audience and leads to increased respect and recognition within your industry.

For me, content has always been about building relationships.

I aim to create content that resonates with my ideal clients in an attempt to foster deeper engagement that goes beyond a transactional relationship.

I leave easter eggs all over my profile and in the content. I use (some) of the same language that you’d hear from me if we were two pints in at the pub.

I try to write as I speak, this (I think) creates authenticity and trust.

I’m not for everyone, and everyone isn’t for me. Afterall, we’re working for ourselves now so we can do awesome stuff with great people right?

Anywho, I got a bit distracted.

Another benefit of creating quality content is leads! By targeting content to your ideal clients, you attract the right audience, leading to higher-quality leads.

These leads are more likely to be interested in your products or services, increasing the chances of conversion.

If you’re still on the fence about creating content, then let me share a huge risk of not doing so.

You simply won’t be seen by prospects who are actively searching for solutions that you could provide.

And if you’re lucky enough to be seen, you may not be trusted – as you’re not putting out the trust signals (via content).

In summary, a lack of presence can lead to lower brand awareness and less revenue.
Didn’t mean to get so serious there, let’s move onto a more positive note…getting started with creating content.

How I Approached Organic Content

There’s a few ways to create content. The easiest way is to just take news articles that relate to your service/industry and share them.

You can take this one step further by adding your commentary on these news articles/updates.

However, the best content for you to focus on is organic content that you create yourself.

Here’s how I went from a blank piece of paper to over 30 content ideas…

I imagined I was writing a book on the problem I was solving for my clients. Below are the steps I went through:

I wasn’t aiming for perfection here, I just wanted to get it all out of my head and down on paper.

  • Opened up a blank Word/Google Doc and titled it “Sales for Agencies”
  • Wrote out what the chapters of that book would be. So introduction, first thing to think about, second thing to consider …etc… Conclusion.
  • Then for each chapter heading, I wrote 3 – 5 bullets of what the main sections of the chapters would be.
  • Now I had the outline of the things I could create content about. See these as blog post titles.
  • Closed the document and revisited it in 24-48 hours.
  • Went through all the chapter headings and added more things while tidying up the document.

By the end of this exercise I had over 30 ideas for content.

For each piece of content I could expand even more by thinking about how to make it more valuable:

  • Checklists
  • Frameworks
  • Templates
  • Step by Step guides
  • Etc

Oh and you need to share the content.

Try not to overthink this.

I aim to share a minimum of 4 posts on LinkedIn each work week.

If you’re just getting started, aim for 1 post a week, then 2 and work your way up.

Also, some of the content you create can be repurposed for Step 4: Minimal Viable Content (MVC) campaigns in the future.

Additionally, you can take the same content and build out a resource library on your website.


My content prompted several people to reach out, with 2 open deals in the pipeline for Q1 2024.

But I know what you’re thinking…

Ok Mark “Mr Outbound” – why haven’t you sent any emails to generate revenue?

I’ll expand on this in the next step.


Step 8: Outbound Campaigns

Outbound only really works when you know what you’re selling.

And in the first 3 months, I was still working this out.

I was listening to my ideal clients’ challenges, testing my assumptions and trying to find out what my “no brainer” offer would be.

And the reality is…I think I’ll always be iterating on my offers.

But anyway, outbound.

When I work with established agencies, they’ve already found service-market fit.

And at this stage I recommend that running outbound campaigns is one of the first strategies they should implement.

However, when you’re still focussing on your first 10 clients, I believe that outbound should be last OR when you’re confident that you’ve found service-market fit.

If you’re unsure whether outbound campaigns are right for you, here are a couple of things to consider.

Cold emailing allows you to directly reach potential clients, much faster than most other channels (including those mentioned above).

It’s also pretty cost-effective. It doesn’t require a large budget, making it ideal for solopreneurs with limited resources.

After the initial planning and setup of your campaigns, you can contact a large number of potential clients without incurring substantial expenses.

Additionally, it scales like a dream. Once you’ve found a message that resonates and you have a great source of leads, you can send emails 24/7.

If you decide to not use outbound campaigns, you might miss out on the chance to connect with potential clients who are not reached through other marketing channels.

Sold on outbound yet?

If so, read on.

How I’m Approaching Outbound Campaigns

It’s worth noting, that as I write this post, I’m in the process of setting up my outbound campaigns for

Here’s what I’m doing:

  • Warming up alternative domains to send emails from
  • Building lists of ideal clients using LinkedIn and other data sources
  • Drafting emails around specific challenges and problems I know my clients are facing
  • Loading these draft emails into my cold email tool and planning out the sequence
  • Sending test emails to myself to make sure the formatting and message is correct.

I’ll be pressing launch in January once everyone is back at their desks.

The goal is for my outbound email campaigns to work alongside my other activities like partnerships, referrals, LinkedIn outreach and content.


When I opened up a blank Google Doc a few hours ago, I did not expect to write almost 5,000 words.

So thanks for joining me on this journey.

To quickly recap for those still with me.

If you’re a Solopreneur (or consultant, fractional consultant, coach, new agency owner) you need an interconnected system in order to generate your first 10 clients.

My first 10 paying clients came from this system (see below):

To replicate the system:

  1. The foundation of the system is a deep understanding of your ICP and buyer personas.
  2. You need an offer that solves a real problem for clients which is easy to articulate.
  3. You should update your LinkedIn profile so it speaks the same language as your ideal clients
  4. Don’t forget to reach out to your close network to see if they know anyone that might need your help
  5. Create small, but valuable content you can use when reaching out to prospects on LinkedIn
  6. Spend time studying who helps, sells to and funds your ideal clients. Start conversations with them and explore win-win-win partnerships.
  7. When you’re confident in your offer and service delivery, launch your outbound campaigns to have more conversations and grow to the next 20 clients.

There are of course other strategies to acquire clients in the early stages, but this is what worked for me (and a few others I’ve spoken to).

Life as a solopreneur can be pretty tough. The ups and downs can be challenging to navigate whilst also staying sane.

Stick with it, implement the above and enjoy the freedom solopreneurship can bring.

If you liked this content, I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email at [email protected].

Need Help Landing New Clients?

I’ll help you implement your Pipeline Generation System and give you everything you need to generate replies and book meetings with your ideal clients.


  • 60 minute onboarding call
  • Personalised LinkedIn profile and content recommendations
  • 250 Ideal Client lead list
  • 3 – 5 Outbound messaging, angles & templates
  • Outbound Prospecting System setup guide
  • 30 minute pre-campaign launch check-in call
  • Support via email (up to 45 days)