How do you grow a service-based business?
In my experience, starting a service-based business is one of the easier businesses to make profitable ASAP – which begs the question, how do you grow a service-based business?
I love services because they feel like ASSETS to clients. in other words: you do the work, they get the things. It’s tangible and easy to understand.
In this video, I give you frameworks for starting, growing AND scaling your services, whether you are brand new or ready to scale.
Need help with your customized strategy? Book an alignment audit call.
#1: Get Started Without a Narrow Niche
Generally speaking, I think it’s important for newer service providers to start withOUT a well defined niche. This is an unpopular opinion among articles like this, but I want to explain why.
Services sell themselves fairly easily
Services sell themselves fairly easily because people understand what they’re getting and can easily tie into a need. For this reason, it’s not super necessary for you to focus on your niche when you’re starting out.
You don’t know what you’ll like, be great at, or what people will value most
Additionally, if you’re a new service provider or pivoting your services, you probably don’t yet know what you’ll enjoy or be great at.
Let your market research and validation process be experience
Unlike selling courses, which require a lot of cohesive messaging and volume to make a significant amount of income, providing services and selling them to people doesn’t necessarily require a ton of up-front market research if you have a few skills you can put out in the world.
So, rather than spend a lot of time on market research before starting to sell your services, I actually recommend doing your “market research” experientially. That is – do the thing and learn from it!
Through doing, you’ll learn the problems that make people buy, the things they tried that didn’t work, and what they want instead.
#2: Prioritize Sales and Visibility
Use your immediate network
Rather than getting bogged down on creating a website and extensive visual brand, I want you to start by simply tapping into your immediate network.
When I started my first blog in 2011, the first readers and buyers I had were from my personal Facebook profile. And…I didn’t have to do any weird MLM stuff 🙂 I simple shared what I was doing in a story-driven way.
You can do the same in your service business. Share about what you’re doing, put it out into the world, and ask for referrals.
Low cost and/or hourly work to start getting experience
I also recommend not obsessing over fancy pricing and packages YET, unless you have some experience behind you. I’m definitely AGAINST hourly pricing in the long term, but in the short term, I’d keep it super mega simple.
Some of my brand-spankin-new-to-the-internet clients WILL actually give away some services or coaching for free. In fact, one recent client of mine finished her first launch without a sale and realized: I’m afraid to deliver this. I need a heck-ton of practice. Then she challenged herself to do at least 50 free “confidence coaching” sessions to get more experience under her belt.
The best part? Is that her first free client insisted on paying her. When she said “no” to stay true to her experiment, he found a way to pay her anyway by emailing her an Amazon gift card.
My point in saying all this is: I don’t really recommend giving away services or coaching for free, even when you’re new. Most people won’t value it enough. BUT: it’s an option if you NEED that in order to feel some confidence.
#3: Focus Your Marketing in a Speciality Once You’re Somewhat Established
Now that you have some experience and sales under your belt, you might notice some preferences, skills or insane results that start arising.
While you can can continue to do a variety of services, it is critical at some point to specialize.
The reason for this is because the more you market, the more you need to have some kind of cohesive messaging around what you’re doing so that people can connect to what you’re doing easier and faster.
Your network knows you, so trust already exists in your immediate network. However, when you expand, specializing builds trust MUCH faster. In order to grow past your network, people have to “get” what you’re doing.
#4: Refine Your Marketing
As you begin focusing on growth, you should start refining your marketing strategy.
This includes leveraging relationships and referrals and considering adding a volume-based platform. You also need to consider whether you want long form or short form content.
Leverage relationships and referrals
Referrals are one of the best ways to build up a clientele, so take advantage of any opportunities that come your way, especially since you used your existing network for your first clients. If someone mentions they’re looking for help with whatever your service is, send them a link to book a conversation with you.
If you see someone you’ve worked with on social media, reach out. You never know where your next client will come from.
Consider adding a volume based platform
While Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin are probably the easiest platforms to get sales on when you have no audience, you’ll eventually want to use a platform that has volume potential, and long-term equity (like blogs, Youtube or other long form content). This is because every marketer knows that getting more traffic means more leads, which means more clients, which means more money in your pocket.
A volume based platform allows you to scale up as much as you want without having to make major investments in technology or infrastructure.
Long form versus short form
We’ve also found that long form content tends to perform better than short form content, especially when it comes to SEO and attracting organic traffic through search engines like Google and Bing.
In fact, this Content Hacker article suggests that – overwhelmingly, at least for them – long form content is the #1 driver of their sales.
#5: Creating Leverage and Scale
If you want to make a lot of money, you have to create leverage. That means building systems that allow you to do more with less time, energy and money.
This will help you grow your business faster, so you can reach a bigger audience at once and start making more money sooner. If you’re not sure how to do this, start by creating a simple system for organizing your content and services so they’re easy to find.
Build Your Team
When you have an entire team helping out with things like customer service and email marketing, it frees up time for you to focus on higher-level tasks that will help you grow even more quickly. You can also use this time to attend events or meetups where you can network with other professionals in your industry—and build relationships that could lead to collaborations down the road!
When it comes to who to hire, start by tracking your time for two weeks, AND track your energy around tasks. Your first hire could be an assistant, or it might be a fellow service provider to take on certain tasks.
Optimize pricing and packaging
If you want to scale quickly and make more money than ever before, there’s one thing that matters above all else: getting paid well for what you offer! That means figuring out exactly how much each client should pay for your products or services (and charging them accordingly).
In order to hire and outsource, you eventually need to move away from hourly rates and towards packages. You can start determining your package pricing by estimating your hourly rate, and you need to make sure your hourly rate is high enough that you STILL make money when you pay someone else to do the work.
You can keep your hourly rate in mind, but prioritize packages that help clients see the value without tying too much expectation to your time (because you’re the expert after all).
#6: Diversifying Your Income
Not required but can be fun and helpful
Diversifying your income is definitely not required, but it can be fun and helpful. For example, creating courses and selling them on Udemy or Skillshare can be a great way to make extra money while you’re working on your business. You can also sell services like coaching and consulting instead of doing one-off projects or done-for-you work.
If you’re looking to diversify your income, there are a number of options.
First: consider selling courses. If you don’t want to keep scaling your services, you can teach people how to do the work themselves as a downsell.
Creating courses and selling coaching and consulting services is a great way to diversify your income.
By creating a course, you can help people learn how to do something that’s important to you. For example, if you love cooking and want to share your expertise, you could create a course on how to cook healthy meals. The course would be accessible online and include written instructions, photos of the food being made, and video tutorials.
Coaching and consulting instead of done-for-you
The other low hanging fruit (in my opinion) feels like coaching or consulting. You’ll probably charge more for this than your services because you’re empowering someone out of your job 🙂
Need help with your customized strategy? Book an alignment audit call.