Want that first customer? Do research, don’t undercharge

NEW YORK (AP) — Many small business owners are so anxious to get their first customers or clients that they’ll underprice their products or services, and end up in relationships that are not only unprofitable but also unpleasant. Owners can also find themselves doing work they don’t want to do.

Some advice for new owners on how to avoid the misery of bad clients:

¯ Underpricing yourself can create an abusive relationship. When V. Michael Santoro and his business partner started their digital marketing firm, they first provided their services to other businesses in exchange for testimonials that would attract other clients. “What we discovered is many were just taking advantage of us. Many were chronic complainers who were always trying to get more services for no money,” says Santoro, co-founder of Vaetas, based in Tampa Bay, Florida.

¯ Owners who are too eager to get new clients can make bad choices. Donny Minchillo, co-owner of website developer Pineapple Development, says it’s important for a client to be a good fit for his business, in much the same way that his company needs to be a good fit for a client. “Setting proper expectations and being transparent from the start has helped us continually bring on clients that are better matches for us as time has gone on,” says Minchillo, whose company is based in Florida.