People who sell services have to face a lot of problems. Finding new clients, juggling different tasks at the same times or marketing your business online and offline, just to mention a few of them.
However, all this problems can be solved with some training and planning.
But there’s one problem that can’t be so easily solved.
Last year, I was talking to a colleague about what we wanted to do/be in a future. She told me that she didn’t want to be a freelancer because there’s always a limit and one can’t progress from there. That’s why she preferred to set up a translation agency (and I guess that that’s the reason behind most of them). And that’s fair enough. She had a good point.
This is how I started my research about scalability.
What is scalability?
So, let’s imagine for a moment a business that sells online products (i.e. ebooks). The person behind it just needs to invest some time to write ebooks and then invest some more time to market this product until it starts being sold “by itself”. People just need to click the buy button to buy it.
Later on, if this person wants to start earning more money, he just needs to create a new ebook to diversify his income, or maybe a premium product related to his first ebook (i.e. a webinar) and so on.
Scalability is the capability of handling a bigger amount of work and hence increasing the potential of a business.
What’s different with services then?
Normally, when we sell service, we’re selling our time.
For example, in the case of designers, they know how much time they spend creating (let’s say) a logo. And they charge accordingly. However, if they start getting more assignments that they can’t handle, they will start losing money, as they don’t have enough time to undertake all this amount of work.
When we sell our time, we get stuck. We can’t have more hours a day and we can’t progress. And we end up working more hours, which isn’t healthy at all for us.
So, what can we do to solve the biggest problem when selling services and make our service-based businesses scalable?
There are a few techniques that you can implement to make your business scalable. But the most important thing here is to think the best way to apply them to your business.
Stop charging per hours and start charging per project
I already talked about this before. Charging an hourly rate isn’t viable in the long run. As I mentioned, at some point, you won’t be able to work more hours and you’ll get stuck.
It will difficult to get out of that situation, because you’ll have to either increase your rates, which can be tricky and you may lose some clients, or change the way you do your rates, and then it will be difficult to communicate your new rates to your clients.
Turn services into products
I’m trying to implement this one to my business at the moment.
So, let’s imagine that this designer is tired of charging hourly rates and wants to start selling some products related to the core activity of his business. What he could do is to design some logo layouts and sell them to his clients.
Another example that I especially liked is the case of a Spanish business consultant. She started selling services to freelancers and SMEs. At some point she started to receive a lot of assignments and she decided to change her business model. What she did is to create a “Business School” and turned her services into different courses that people can take depending of their needs.
Now it’s time to be creative here and ask yourself how you can turn your services into products to make your business scalable and solve the biggest problem when selling services.
This can be a bit scary.
But sooner or later you’ll have to start outsourcing some of your tasks. And you need to do it in a strategically way.
You need to start outsourcing all these tasks that aren’t directly generating any income and focus on your main business activity, your field of expertise.
You can start outsourcing small tasks such as the cleaning of your office and then outsource bigger tasks such as the design of your marketing materials, your online marketing, content marketing, market research and so on.
You’ll see that having more time and investing some money, you can earn more money in the long run and you can have better results as you’re leaving these tasks in experts’ hands.
Build a team for your business
Once that you’ve outsource some tasks, you may also face the situation in which you’ll need to hire someone that can assist you with the main activity of your business.
You’ll probably need to change the structure of your business. Maybe it’s time to stop being a sole trader to set up a limited company.
Maybe you’re scared of the word company (I’m considering this and I reckon that it’s scary!)
Hiring a first employee for your business is a big step but you should bear in mind that you’ll be able to undertake twice as work that you did and double your income. Another good way to escalate your business.
Automate as much as you can
Automation will save you a lot of valuable time.
Nowadays you can automate a lot of tasks.
From content curation in your social media network, to your email marketing campaigns (that’s what I did with my ebook and the exclusive content that I share through email with my subscribers). You can also automate the way you accept payments on your website or communications with your clients.
It’s a different way to outsourcing different tasks. But in this case you’re not relying on professionals so make sure that everything goes as planned. Bear in mind that if something fails (and this will probably happen) you’ll have to be there to solve it.
These are my five strategies to escalate a business. Have you ever used a different one? I’d love to hear from you!