Growing a business can seem like a straightforward venture, and it can be deceptively simple on paper. However, once you start to delve into the heart of the matter, you realize that any business model requires some deep thought before you can scale it.
In a service-based business, however, special considerations must be made. It’s not as simple as selling more products when the product is your time, and your time is limited. There are only so many hours in a day you can offer up, so how does an entrepreneur deal with this? Eight experts from Young Entrepreneur Council discuss their best tips for growing service-based companies, offering actionable advice for any entrepreneur who wants to succeed in the industry.
1. Find A ‘Second Penguin’
If you can, find a “second penguin”—someone who jumps into the water right after you, a vice and personal partner or a form of personal secretary. There is a learning curve, but I can’t express how valuable it is to operate with four hands. Let’s take another more mechanical example: AI tools. There are many AI-based gadgets that are easy to use and require no or very little coding knowledge or other prerequisites but that make a huge difference. One such example is semi-automation with chatbots. Say you have a website to advertise your advisory services. With instant live chat support via a chatbot, you are able to not only instantly respond to any new visitor on the site, but also combine it with your calendar to schedule meetings or filter out undesirables. – Joey Bertschler, uniworld.io
2. Create A Menu Of Products
My best advice for scaling a service-based business is to turn your services into a menu of products. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, you could charge $ 0.30 per word for a 500 word article, or simply just charge $ 150 for 500 to 600 words. The amount you’re making is roughly the same, but rather than having your prospect worry about the exact word count, or having to calculate it on your invoices, you charge a flat fee and that’s it. You also want to offer your services as products because it saves you time and from having to create specific proposals and take meetings that don’t ultimately result in new business. If you offer a set menu for your services, people are either interested or not. There’s no need for you to customize everything, so it saves you time. –Amine Rahal, IronMonk Solutions
3. Embrace Streamlining And Automation
Streamlining and automation are key. With a service-based business, the primary investment is human capital since it will be your team who will be providing the servicing. In order to scale, the team has to have streamlined processes so the company can hire more people to scale the business. Streamlined processes include a strong client onboarding plan, standard operating procedures and a well-trained team on the processes and documentation. – Jean Ginzburg, JeanGinzburg.com
4. Focus On Profit And Process
Scaling a service-based business requires being able to profitably deliver the service the same way, every time. This comes down to two things: profit and process. First, you need to be sure that your margin on the service is high enough to cover the labor expense of delivering it at scale. Invest in training so that you can hire entry-level team members, and try anchoring your price to value rather than time, so that you can get more efficient and thereby more profitable over time. Next, create standard operating procedures to ensure consistency in how the service is delivered. Map out your step-by-step workflow, provide written or video instructions and ensure your team is trained on the best practice so that your customers receive the same result each time. – Chris Ronzio, Trainual
5. Get Feedback From Customers
I’m in the process of scaling my service-based speaking business right now. Pre-Covid, more than 80% of my revenue was generated from keynote speaking. With live events on hold, I’ve shifted my sales to include several digital offerings, including corporate training sessions. My best advice for scaling is to get feedback from your existing customers on what you can build for them that’s scalable and replicable. If you can get paid by one client to solve a problem, there’s a great chance you can get paid by lots of other clients. Whether you capture your knowledge in a course and sell memberships or licenses, or develop a system or process that you sell over and over again, productizing a service-based business is all about packaging your knowledge for asynchronous consumption. – Brittany Hodak, Keynote Speaker
6. Give The Best Customer Experience
To build a successful service-based business today, you really have to focus on giving the best customer experience possible. Beyond your skills and results, the biggest way you can set your brand apart is to create a seamless, one-of-a-kind experience that gets your people talking, builds trust and creates loyal customers. In order to accomplish this, add people to your team who have exceptional customer relations skills and invest time and resources into training them. Then, let the quality of your staff shine through. From the very first moment, whether it be through social media, your website, online chat or in store, you want every second to be a positive experience. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
7. Stand Firm In Your Worth
Stand firm in your worth. As your skill set grows, your value per hour should rise. While it may be tempting to allow this to lag, you are doing yourself and your industry a disservice by not charging an accurate price. Each year evaluate how you have grown and then increase your price across the entire board. Review competitors’ pricing, the average price for your industry and determine where you fall within this range. A part of this will include determining what clients you may lose as a result, but then factor in the value you will gain from working with fewer clients at a higher price point. Remove emotion from the equation, and be analytical and decisive. It can be easy to get emotional about money and feel like you are not in a place to charge more. – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
8. Stop Simply Selling Your Time
The key to growing a service-based business is to stop simply selling your own time. You need to find top-notch people who can provide the service, and leverage your expert reputation to add new clients who those people can work with. This can be tricky since people often have the strongest relationship and trust with the founder, but if you are able to “sell” these clients on the other talent you have on your bench, and the service they receive exceeds their expectations, they will be satisfied. I’ve found the easiest way to grow business from there is to ask these happy clients for referrals. Eventually your client base grows large enough that you can gain significant growth just through those referrals. – Madeleine Niebauer, vChief