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How to start a simple business - without actually selling anything!

I know it sounds too good to be true, but you can actually create a business without having to sell a single thing.

The concept I want to talk about isn't a new one, however in my opinion it is completely under-utilised. I think it could be perfect for someone who wants extra income on the side. A side hustle, if you will. Whether you are working part-time or full-time, supplementing your income could mean buying those shoes you've had your eye on or buying shares on the stock market (depending on whether you've read 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' or not). Also, it should be noted that although this method can work for anyone, it would be especially suited to those in positions involving networking and meeting new people as part of their day-to-day activities.

Recently, I received an email from a company I do business with, asking if I would like to be a referral partner. They were offering to pay me for any referrals that I passed onto them. This is a business that provides exceptional service and I would highly recommend. Considering I am able to refer people to them rather effortlessly, I thought the decision was a no-brainer! It got me thinking…

I would absolutely pay people if they referred a new client to my own business.


The annual value of one of our clients could be up to $30,000, so having a new client come on board is something valuable. Of course I would pay for that.

Easy, right? In essence, all you'd need to do is call business owners - professional services are ideal (lawyers, real estate agents, plumbers, electricians, and builders for example) - and ask if you could be set up as a referral partner for them, which essentially just means that any referrals you send to them (that become paying clients of theirs), you would receive a payment. The dialogue you would have with them over the phone could be something along the lines of:

"Would you consider paying for referrals if I sent them your way?"…

Honestly, they would be silly to say no! A builder might pay $100, $200, or even $500 to someone who sent them a referral resulting in a large job. Generating new business can be a headache for companies, (not to mention time-consuming and expensive) so if someone is phoning up to take a problem off their hands, you can bet it will be well received.

Now keep in mind, you don't actually have to SELL the service to the person that you're going to refer. It could simply be that you generate a referral whilst chatting to someone who says: "I need to get an electrician", allowing you to then say: "I have the perfect company…" (Just remember to look for businesses who have good reviews or that you've personally used and know to be reputable because referring a business is reflective of your own reputation!) It does pay to do a bit of research upfront but once you have a list of all the companies that you could refer to, you will always find ways of referring them.

A place to look for businesses you could refer is the BNI directories. BNI are an international organisation set up to help connect businesses to enable mutually beneficial business relationships, referrals, sales and increased profits and growth. Businesses attend BNI meetings because they want referrals and to refer other people. They know how the referral system works and being keen to find clients, they are often willing to compensate for a referral.

Like anything, you get out what you put in. A small amount of effort equals a small reward, whereas if you wanted to try this technique out and be dramatically more successful, you could employ this method. What often happens when someone is trying to give referrals is they say something along the lines of this to someone looking for an accountant: "Hey I know this really great accountant, here's his card" or "Here's his details" or "I'll send you his details". But the downside to this method is that it relies on the person actually picking up the phone and taking action.

A better way I recommend when giving referrals is to try saying: "Hey, I know this really great accountant. I will get him to give you a call and he can talk to you about your needs so you can work out whether it might be a good fit."

It's a win-win because no effort is required on their part in this scenario, and the business will love you for it!

If you are recommending and referring to great companies who know how to do business well, who take action, and who do what they say they're going to do, then there is a 100% chance that they will call your referral. This method also dramatically improves your chance of getting a referral payment because you have played a more active role in referring directly to the company. Keep sending them clients and you will inadvertently become a valuable part of their business.

Good luck and happy referring!

We would love to hear how you get on.

PS: We also pay for successful referrals, so if this blog post has inspired you to make a referral to us here at Strictly Savvy, get in touch with Joy on 0274 539 029 or email her at joy@strictlysavvy.co.nz.

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