Have you been dreaming about turning your love for fusing metals into a profitable venture? Wondering how to start a welding business that’s both rewarding and successful? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to launch your very own welding empire. From honing your skills to networking and marketing, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to start a welding business.
So, gear up and let’s embark on this electrifying adventure of building your welding business from the ground up!
Table of Contents:
Learn the skills
If you haven’t already, make sure you’re well-trained in welding. Take some classes, get certified, and practice until you’re confident in your skills. The better you are at your craft, the more success you’ll have.
Alright, let’s break down the process of learning welding skills step by step! Remember, becoming a pro takes time and practice, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t master everything right away.
- Research welding methods: Start by familiarizing yourself with the different types of welding, such as MIG, TIG, and stick welding. Each method has its own strengths and challenges, so learn about them to decide which one(s) you want to focus on.
- Find local classes or workshops: Look for nearby vocational schools, community colleges, or specialized training centers that offer welding courses. These classes will give you hands-on experience and teach you the fundamentals. Don’t forget to check online courses as well, which can be a great way to learn at your own pace.
- Practice, practice, practice: Like with any skill, practice is key! Set up a safe workspace where you can practice your new welding techniques. Start with simple projects and gradually work your way up to more complex ones as you gain confidence.
- Get certified: Earning a welding certification can boost your credibility and open up more job opportunities. Research which certifications are most relevant for your niche, and then look for accredited programs or testing centers in your area. Common certifications include the AWS (American Welding Society) Certified Welder and the CWI (Certified Welding Inspector).
- Join a welding community: Connect with other welders, either in-person or online, through forums, social media groups, or local meetups. Networking with fellow welders can help you learn new techniques, get advice on tricky projects, and stay motivated.
- Attend workshops and conferences: Keep an eye out for welding workshops or conferences in your area or within your industry. These events can be a fantastic way to learn from experienced professionals, discover new tools and technologies, and expand your skill set.
- Stay updated on industry trends: Subscribe to welding magazines, blogs, or podcasts to stay in-the-know about the latest developments in the field. By staying current, you’ll be better equipped to adapt to new technologies and techniques.
- Learn from your mistakes: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – that’s how we learn! As you practice, you’ll inevitably run into challenges. Use these as opportunities to grow and improve your skills.
- Set goals and track your progress: Setting goals can help you stay focused and motivated as you learn. Break your goals down into smaller milestones and celebrate your achievements along the way.
- Keep learning: Even once you’ve mastered the basics, there’s always more to learn! Continue taking classes, attending workshops, and networking with other welders to keep refining your skills and staying on top of industry trends.
By following these steps and dedicating time and effort to learning, you’ll become a skilled welder before you know it. And remember – practice makes perfect!
Choose your niche
Figure out what kind of welding services you want to offer. You could focus on specific industries like automotive, construction, or manufacturing. Or, you might want to specialize in custom projects like furniture or artwork. Find what you’re passionate about and go for it!
Choosing your niche is all about figuring out what kind of welding services you’re most passionate about and where your skills can really shine. Let’s dive deeper into some of the options and how you can choose the right path for your welding business.
Explore your interests
Start by asking yourself what type of projects you enjoy the most. Do you love working on cars and bikes? Are you into building structures or working with heavy machinery? Or maybe you’re a creative soul who enjoys making custom art pieces. Knowing what excites you will help guide your decision.
Assess your skills
Take a good, honest look at your welding skills and expertise. Some niches may require more advanced techniques, so it’s essential to choose a path where you feel confident in your abilities. Don’t worry, though – you can always learn and grow as you go!
Research different industries
Spend some time researching various industries that need welding services. Here are a few examples:
- Automotive: This niche involves repairing and fabricating parts for cars, trucks, and motorcycles. You could work on custom builds, restorations, or even race cars.
- Construction: In this field, you’ll work on structural projects like bridges, buildings, and other infrastructure. You might specialize in a specific material, like steel or aluminum.
- Manufacturing: Here, you’d work with companies that produce goods, from heavy machinery to household appliances. You might be involved in production, assembly, or repair work.
- Custom projects: This niche is all about creating one-of-a-kind pieces, such as furniture, sculptures, or even decorative gates and railings. You’ll need a good eye for design and the ability to work with clients to bring their vision to life.
Consider your local market
Think about the demand for welding services in your area. Are there industries or businesses nearby that need your expertise? Is there a gap in the market that you could fill? Doing some market research can help you identify opportunities and make a more informed decision.
Evaluate the competition
Check out other welding businesses in your area or within your chosen niche. What services do they offer, and what do their customers say about them? Understanding the competition can help you identify ways to differentiate yourself and stand out.
Plan for growth
Finally, consider how your chosen niche might evolve over time. Are there opportunities for growth or expansion? Make sure to choose a path that allows you to grow and adapt as your business and the industry change.
By taking these steps and really thinking about your passions, skills, and the market, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the perfect niche for your welding business. Remember, it’s all about finding what you love and where you can make the biggest impact!
Make a plan
It’s always a good idea to have a solid business plan in place. Consider things like how you’ll find clients, what your pricing structure will look like, and what equipment you’ll need. Don’t forget to think about startup costs and ongoing expenses, too!
Having a solid business plan is super important for any entrepreneur. It’s like your roadmap to success, so let’s break down the key components you should consider when creating a plan for your welding business.
- Executive summary: Start with a brief overview of your business – what you do, who you serve, and what makes you unique. This is like your elevator pitch, so keep it short and sweet.
- Business description: Go into more detail about your welding business. Describe your niche, the services you offer, and your target audience. Don’t forget to mention your business structure (e.g., sole proprietor, LLC) and any partners or key team members.
- Market analysis: Dive into your market research here. Discuss the demand for welding services in your area, your target customers, and your competition. Show that you know your stuff and have a plan to stand out from the crowd.
- Marketing and sales strategy: Explain how you’ll find clients and promote your services. This might include networking, online ads, social media, or even good ol’ fashioned word-of-mouth. Talk about your sales process, too – how you’ll provide quotes, close deals, and keep clients coming back for more.
- Pricing strategy: Outline your pricing structure and how it compares to your competition. Will you charge by the hour, per project, or using a different method? Make sure your prices are competitive but also cover your costs and allow for profit.
- Operations plan: Describe the day-to-day operations of your welding business. This includes your workspace, equipment, materials, and any processes you’ll follow to complete projects. You might also want to discuss your hours of operation and how you’ll handle customer inquiries.
- Equipment and supplies: List the tools, machinery, and supplies you’ll need to run your business, both at startup and ongoing. Include costs for purchasing, maintaining, and replacing equipment as needed.
- Startup and ongoing expenses: Break down the costs involved in starting and running your business. This might include rent, utilities, insurance, marketing, travel, and more. Don’t forget to factor in your own salary or draw, too!
- Financial projections: Create some financial forecasts to show how your business will perform over the next few years. This should include a projected income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet. Be realistic, but also optimistic – you got this!
- Milestones and goals: Set some short-term and long-term goals for your business. These might include revenue targets, client acquisition goals, or even personal achievements like certifications or awards. Having goals will help you stay focused and motivated.
By covering these essential elements in your business plan, you’ll be well-prepared to launch your welding business and make it a success. Your plan doesn’t have to be perfect – it’s a living document that you can update and refine as your business grows and evolves.
Get your paperwork in order
Register your business with the local government, get any necessary licenses or permits, and make sure you have insurance to cover your work. This stuff may be a bit tedious, but it’s super important.
Taking care of the paperwork might not be the most exciting part of starting a business, but it’s crucial for staying on the right side of the law and protecting yourself. Let’s go through the process step by step:
- Choose a business name: Pick a unique and catchy name for your welding business. Make sure it isn’t already taken by checking online or with your local government’s business registry.
- Register your business: Depending on your location and business structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation), you’ll need to register your business with the appropriate government agency. This typically involves filing some paperwork and paying a registration fee.
- Apply for an EIN or tax ID: In most places, you’ll need a tax identification number (called an EIN in the US) for tax and legal purposes. You can usually apply for one online through your country’s tax agency.
- Obtain licenses and permits: Depending on your location and the specific services you’re offering, you might need certain licenses or permits to operate your welding business legally. Research your local and state/provincial requirements to make sure you have everything covered. Some common licenses include business licenses, welding certifications, and even special permits for handling hazardous materials.
- Open a business bank account: Keep your personal and business finances separate by opening a dedicated business bank account. This will make it easier to track your income and expenses, and it’ll save you a headache come tax time.
- Get insurance: Protect yourself and your business with the right insurance coverage. At a minimum, you’ll want general liability insurance to cover potential damages or injuries related to your work. You might also consider getting property insurance for your equipment and workspace, as well as workers’ compensation if you have employees.
- Set up a bookkeeping system: Stay organized by setting up a system for tracking your income, expenses, and other financial records. You can use accounting software, a spreadsheet, or even a good old-fashioned notebook – just make sure it works for you and keeps everything in order.
- Familiarize yourself with tax obligations: As a business owner, you’ll be responsible for handling various taxes, such as income tax, sales tax (if applicable), and possibly employment taxes if you have employees. Research your tax obligations and make sure you’re prepared to handle them. It’s often a good idea to consult with an accountant or tax professional to ensure you’re on the right track.
- Create a filing system: Keep all your important paperwork (like permits, licenses, insurance policies, and financial records) organized in a secure filing system. This will make it easier to find and reference documents when needed, and it’ll help you stay on top of deadlines and renewals.
By following these steps and taking care of the necessary paperwork, you’ll be setting your welding business up for success from a legal and administrative standpoint. Staying organized and on top of your paperwork is essential for keeping things running smoothly and avoiding potential issues down the line.
Invest in equipment
Get yourself some quality welding gear. You’ll need a welding machine, protective gear, and various hand tools. Start with the basics and upgrade as you grow.
Investing in the right equipment is key to running a successful welding business. Let’s go through the essentials and how to choose the gear that’s right for you:
Welding machine: Your welding machine is the heart of your operation, so it’s important to choose one that suits your needs and skill level. Consider the type of welding you’ll be doing (MIG, TIG, stick), the materials you’ll be working with, and your budget when making your decision. Don’t be afraid to shop around and read reviews to find the best option for you.
Protective gear: Safety first! Make sure you have the necessary protective equipment to keep yourself safe while welding. This includes:
- Welding helmet: Invest in a good-quality auto-darkening helmet to protect your eyes and face from harmful UV and infrared rays, as well as flying sparks and debris.
- Gloves: Get a pair of durable, heat-resistant gloves specifically designed for welding. They should fit well and provide both protection and dexterity.
- Protective clothing: Wear flame-resistant clothing, like a welding jacket or apron, to protect your skin from burns and UV exposure. Don’t forget about proper footwear – sturdy, closed-toe shoes or boots are a must.
Hand tools: You’ll need a variety of hand tools for your welding projects, such as:
- Chipping hammer and wire brush: These tools help you remove slag and clean up your welds.
- Pliers and clamps: You’ll need pliers for gripping and manipulating metal, as well as clamps for holding pieces together while you weld.
- Angle grinder: An angle grinder is useful for cutting and grinding metal, as well as cleaning up welds.
- Tape measure, square, and level: These basic tools will help you measure, mark, and align your workpieces accurately.
Welding table: A sturdy, heat-resistant welding table is a must-have for your workspace. Look for one with adjustable height and clamps for securing your workpieces in place.
Fume extraction system: Welding can produce harmful fumes, so it’s important to have a proper fume extraction system in place. This can be a portable unit or a built-in system, depending on your workspace and budget.
Miscellaneous supplies: Stock up on consumables like welding wire, electrodes, shielding gas, and grinding discs, as well as any other supplies specific to your welding method.
As you grow your business and take on more complex projects, you might want to upgrade your equipment or invest in additional tools like plasma cutters, pipe benders, or specialized welding machines. Starting with the basics and gradually building up your gear as needed is a smart way to manage your budget and grow your business sustainably.
Set up your workspace
Whether it’s your garage, a rented workshop, or a mobile rig, make sure you have a safe and organized space to work in. This will help you stay efficient and professional.
Having a safe and organized workspace is super important for any welding business. It not only helps you work more efficiently but also gives off a professional vibe to your clients.
Let’s go through some tips for setting up your space, whether it’s at home or in a dedicated workshop:
- Choose the right location: Your workspace should be well-ventilated, have plenty of space for you to move around, and be free from flammable materials. Make sure it has access to the necessary electrical outlets and that it’s compliant with any local zoning or safety regulations.
- Organize your equipment: Keep your welding machine, hand tools, and supplies organized and easily accessible. This might involve investing in toolboxes, shelves, or pegboards to keep everything in its place. A clean, organized workspace not only looks professional but also helps you work more efficiently.
- Safety first: Prioritize safety by keeping fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and emergency phone numbers within easy reach. Make sure your workspace is well-lit and free from trip hazards, like loose cords or clutter. And don’t forget about proper ventilation and fume extraction to keep the air clean and safe to breathe.
- Set up a welding table: As mentioned earlier, a sturdy welding table is a must. Make sure it’s positioned in a convenient spot, with enough room to maneuver around it. If you’re working in a smaller space, consider a foldable or mobile table that can be easily stored when not in use.
- Create a designated work area: If you’re working in a shared or multi-purpose space, like a garage, set up a designated welding area to keep your work separate from other activities. Use barriers or curtains to block off the area and protect against sparks, UV radiation, and fumes.
- Storage solutions: Invest in storage solutions for your raw materials, finished projects, and any other items you need to store. Keep everything organized and labeled so you can find what you need quickly and easily.
- Plan for growth: As your business expands, you might need more space or additional equipment. Plan for future growth by making sure there’s room to expand, or consider the possibility of moving to a larger workspace down the line.
- Personal touches: Add some personal touches to make your workspace feel welcoming and comfortable. This could include artwork, a comfy chair for breaks, or even a mini-fridge for snacks and drinks. Just make sure these touches don’t compromise safety or functionality.
By following these tips and creating a safe, organized, and efficient workspace, you’ll be setting yourself up for success in your welding business. A professional-looking workspace not only helps you work better but also makes a great impression on clients.
Build a portfolio
Show off your skills with a portfolio of your best work. Snap some great photos and share them on your website, social media, or even in a physical portfolio that you can show potential clients.
A killer portfolio is a fantastic way to showcase your talent and impress potential clients. Let’s talk about how to build an eye-catching portfolio that highlights your welding skills and gets you noticed:
- Select your best work: Choose a variety of projects that show off your skills, creativity, and range as a welder. Make sure to include pieces from different categories, like industrial, artistic, or custom work, to demonstrate your versatility.
- Take high-quality photos: Good photos are essential for showcasing your work. Invest in a decent camera, or even use a newer smartphone with a good camera, to capture clear, well-lit images of your projects. Make sure to use proper lighting and shoot from multiple angles to show off your welds and the overall design.
- Write descriptions: Accompany each photo with a brief description that explains the project, the materials and techniques used, and any challenges you overcame. This gives potential clients some context and insight into your creative process.
- Organize your portfolio: Group your projects by category, like automotive, furniture, or sculpture, so that it’s easy for potential clients to find what they’re interested in. Make sure your portfolio is easy to navigate and looks polished and professional.
- Create an online presence: Build a website or blog to showcase your portfolio online. There are plenty of user-friendly website builders out there, like Wix or Squarespace, that make it easy to create a professional-looking site. Be sure to include your contact information, a brief bio, and testimonials or reviews from satisfied clients.
- Utilize social media: Share your work on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. These platforms are great for connecting with potential clients, networking with other welders, and staying up-to-date on industry trends. Just remember to keep your profiles professional and focused on your work.
- Physical portfolio: In addition to your online presence, consider creating a physical portfolio that you can show to potential clients during meetings or consultations. Print high-quality photos and descriptions of your work, and organize them in a sleek binder or folder.
- Update regularly: Keep your portfolio fresh by adding new projects as you complete them. This not only shows that you’re active and in demand but also allows you to showcase your most recent and impressive work.
By building a top-notch portfolio that showcases your skills and expertise, you’ll be well on your way to attracting clients and growing your welding business. A strong portfolio is a powerful marketing tool that can set you apart from the competition and help you land those dream projects. Good luck!
Network and advertise
Get out there and meet people! Attend industry events, join local business groups, and start building relationships. Don’t forget to invest in some marketing, too. Online ads, flyers, and business cards can all help get your name out there.
Networking and advertising are essential for getting your welding business off the ground and attracting clients. Let’s break down some tips for making connections and getting your name out there:
- Industry events: Attend trade shows, conferences, and other industry events to meet fellow welders, potential clients, and suppliers. These gatherings are great for learning about the latest trends and technologies, as well as making valuable connections in the field.
- Local business groups: Join local business associations or networking groups to connect with other business owners in your area. These groups often host events and meetings where you can share ideas, learn from others, and build relationships that could lead to referrals or collaborations.
- Forge partnerships: Partner up with complementary businesses, like metal suppliers, fabricators, or machine shops, to cross-promote each other’s services. This can help you reach a wider audience and gain access to new clients.
- Social media: Engage with people online by participating in industry-related forums, Facebook groups, or LinkedIn communities. Offer helpful advice, answer questions, and share your expertise to establish yourself as a knowledgeable and reliable professional.
- Marketing materials: Invest in eye-catching business cards, flyers, and brochures to hand out at events or leave in strategic locations. Make sure your materials look professional and include your contact information, a brief description of your services, and a link to your portfolio.
- Online advertising: Run targeted ads on platforms like Google Ads or Facebook to reach potential clients who are searching for welding services in your area. You can customize your ad campaign to fit your budget and target specific keywords, demographics, or geographic locations.
- Local advertising: Place ads in local newspapers, magazines, or on community bulletin boards to reach potential clients in your area. Don’t forget about word-of-mouth, too – encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews or recommend your services to friends and family.
- Offer promotions or discounts: Entice new clients with special offers, like a discount on their first project or a referral bonus for bringing in new business. This can help you attract attention and build a loyal customer base.
- Follow up: After meeting someone or completing a job, make sure to follow up with a friendly email or phone call to keep the relationship going. This can help you stay top-of-mind and increase the chances of getting repeat business or referrals.
By actively networking and advertising your welding business, you’ll be well on your way to building a strong reputation and a steady flow of clients. Just remember, building relationships and growing your business takes time, so be patient and keep putting yourself out there.
Provide excellent service
Go above and beyond for your clients. Be punctual, communicate well, and always deliver top-notch work. Happy customers = more referrals and a growing business.
Providing excellent service is the key to growing your welding business and keeping those clients coming back for more. Here are some tips on how to wow your customers and build a rock-solid reputation:
- Be punctual: Time is money, so show your clients you respect their schedule by always being on time. Whether it’s for meetings, consultations, or project deadlines, punctuality sends a message that you’re reliable and professional.
- Communication is key: Keep the lines of communication open with your clients. Make sure they understand the scope of the project, the timeline, and any potential issues that may arise. Regular updates and check-ins can help build trust and keep everyone on the same page.
- Listen to your clients: Take the time to understand your clients’ needs, goals, and expectations. Ask questions, listen carefully to their answers, and make sure you’re both on the same page before starting any work. This will help you deliver results that truly meet their needs.
- Quality craftsmanship: Always deliver top-notch work that you’re proud to put your name on. This means using the best materials, techniques, and equipment for the job, and never cutting corners. High-quality workmanship is what sets you apart from the competition and keeps clients coming back.
- Be transparent about costs: Be upfront and honest about your pricing structure and any additional costs that may come up during a project. Providing a detailed estimate before starting any work can help avoid surprises and ensure your clients feel comfortable with the investment they’re making.
- Be flexible and adaptable: Sometimes, projects don’t go exactly as planned, and that’s okay. Be ready to adapt to changes or unexpected issues, and always approach challenges with a positive, problem-solving attitude. Your clients will appreciate your flexibility and commitment to getting the job done right.
- Go the extra mile: Look for opportunities to exceed your clients’ expectations. This could mean offering additional services, providing suggestions for improvements, or simply being extra attentive to their needs. Little touches can make a big difference when it comes to customer satisfaction.
- Ask for feedback: After completing a project, ask your clients for feedback on your work and their overall experience. This can help you identify areas for improvement and show that you value their opinion.
- Build relationships: Treat your clients with respect and show genuine interest in their projects. Building strong relationships can lead to repeat business, referrals, and a positive reputation in your industry.
By focusing on excellent service and always striving to exceed your clients’ expectations, you’ll be well on your way to growing your welding business and building a loyal customer base. Happy customers are your best marketing tool, so go above and beyond to make sure they’re thrilled with your work.
Keep learning and growing
Stay up-to-date on new techniques and technology in the welding world. Keep refining your skills and never stop learning. This will help you stay competitive and successful.
In the fast-paced world of welding, it’s crucial to stay on top of new techniques and technology to keep your skills fresh and your business competitive. Let’s dive into some ways to keep learning and growing as a welder:
- Take classes or workshops: Look for welding courses, workshops, or seminars in your area or online. These can help you learn new techniques, improve your existing skills, and stay current with industry trends.
- Attend industry events: Trade shows, conferences, and expos are great opportunities to learn about the latest welding technology and techniques. Plus, they’re an excellent way to network and make connections with other professionals in the field.
- Read industry publications: Subscribe to welding magazines, newsletters, or blogs to stay informed about the latest news, products, and best practices in the industry. This can help you stay ahead of the curve and keep your skills sharp.
- Participate in online forums and communities: Join welding forums or social media groups where professionals share tips, advice, and experiences. These platforms are great for asking questions, learning from others, and staying connected to the welding community.
- Get certified: Pursue additional certifications in your field to demonstrate your commitment to ongoing education and professional development. Certifications can help you stand out from the competition and show clients that you’re dedicated to staying current with industry standards.
- Invest in new technology: Keep an eye on the latest advancements in welding equipment and tools. Upgrading your gear can help you work more efficiently, produce higher quality results, and stay competitive in the market.
- Learn from your peers: Network with other welders, both locally and online, to exchange tips, advice, and experiences. Learning from others in your field can help you expand your skillset and gain new perspectives on your work.
- Challenge yourself: Push yourself to take on more complex or creative projects that test your skills and encourage you to grow as a welder. Stepping outside your comfort zone can lead to new discoveries and help you become a more versatile and skilled professional.
- Reflect on your progress: Regularly evaluate your work and set goals for improvement. This could involve seeking feedback from clients, peers, or mentors, or simply taking the time to assess your strengths and weaknesses as a welder.
By staying committed to learning and growing in your welding career, you’ll be better equipped to adapt to changes in the industry and maintain a successful business. Plus, it’ll help you stay passionate about your work and inspire you to keep striving for excellence.
How do I price my welding services?
When pricing your services, consider factors such as the cost of materials, labor, overhead expenses, and your desired profit margin. Research competitor pricing in your area and determine whether you’ll charge by the hour or by the project.
How important is insurance for my welding business?
Insurance is crucial for protecting your business from potential liabilities, accidents, or damages. Secure general liability insurance, workers’ compensation (if you have employees), and any other relevant coverage based on your specific business needs.
How can I manage my finances and accounting for my welding business?
Use accounting software or work with a professional accountant to manage your finances, including invoicing, tracking expenses, and filing taxes. Keeping accurate financial records helps you make informed business decisions and maintain compliance with tax regulations.
What are some strategies for retaining clients and encouraging repeat business?
Retain clients by providing exceptional service, maintaining regular communication, and offering loyalty incentives or promotions. Foster strong relationships with clients and exceed their expectations to encourage repeat business and referrals.
How do I manage my time and workload as a welding business owner?
Develop effective time management skills by setting priorities, creating a schedule, delegating tasks, and minimizing distractions. Ensure a healthy work-life balance by setting boundaries and allocating time for personal interests and self-care.
What are some ways to expand my welding business over time?
As your welding business grows, consider expanding your services, investing in more advanced equipment, hiring employees, and entering new markets or industries. Continually evaluate your business performance, and adjust your strategies to meet evolving client needs and industry trends.
How can I stay competitive in the welding industry?
Stay competitive by continually refining your skills, adopting new technologies, and offering specialized or unique services. Keep up with industry news and trends, maintain a strong online presence, and invest in marketing to attract new clients.
How do I handle challenges or setbacks in my welding business?
Face challenges with a proactive, problem-solving mindset, and learn from setbacks to improve your business. Seek advice from mentors, peers, or industry professionals, and be willing to adapt and make changes as needed to overcome obstacles.
How important is my online presence for my welding business?
A strong online presence helps increase your business visibility, showcase your portfolio, and attract new clients. Invest in a professional website, maintain active social media profiles, and engage with online industry communities to build your reputation and connect with potential clients.