The THREE Things You Need To Know Before Launching Your Service-Based Business
Now more than ever, the appeal of starting a business online is becoming stronger. More and more people are taking to the internet to launch businesses that will allow them to earn money from home, experience more freedom, and avoid having to fit into the standardized 9-5. I was definitely one of those people a few years ago and I will never look back.
Today, I spend a lot of time talking to aspiring business owners in the DMs (mostly on Instagram) about how to book out your services. This is where I help all of my clients!
But you may be sitting there wondering what it is that I do do differently. What have I done to build my business and is there something you're missing?
To be completely transparent, there are THREE key things that I established in my business in order to really start seeing the results I wanted. Before I get into those things, let me take you back to where I started and how I came to realize why my business was constantly struggling:
I got fired from my job...
You read it right. I got fired from what I thought was my dream job!
But this isn't a story about why or how I got fired. The simple fact is that I did get fired. I was sent home with no savings, no severance, and no flipping clue what I was doing.
At that point, I had been side-hustling for quite a while. It had actually been YEARS of me working with my own clients on writing and editing projects, but I had never pulled the trigger to go fill-time.
When I was let go from my job, I had two steady clients, but they weren't anything huge. I was doing social media for a local orthotics clinic for $500 CAD a month. I was also going some editing and ghostwriting for a publishing house out of Vancouver, Canada.
This client wasn't monthly retainer, it was project based. So, they sent me work when they had it.
Having these two clients wasn't going to pay the bills or bring in anything close to what I was making at my corporate job. But I also realized that I could easily build my own business and make more than my corporate job IF I actually treated it like my job instead of just a side-hustle that was nice to have.
The next couple years...
I worked with some sh** clients, let me tell you.
Over the next couple of years, I ended up grabbing at everything. I was applying for jobs on Upwork. I was posting unintentionally. I ended up getting a bunch of clients, but they were all the wrong fit for me, I just didn't know it yet.
I was working with a mortgage broker over here, a recruiting company over here, a brick and mortar over there, and there was a lot of turnover.
Ultimately, there was no value that I was bringing to the table. I was offering everything and the kitchen sink because I wanted the money and the experience. That's what most people do when you're first getting started.
You grab at everything because you want the clients, you want the money coming in the door, and so you grab at any client that will have you.
What ends up happening is:
You end up on this hamster wheel of finding a client, landing another one, doing well for a month or two, and then having to replace a client, and then another one leaves.... and so on. It's exhausting!
You don't want your clients to leave after just a couple of months. You want them to stick around for the long-term and you want to know that you can count on that steady income every single month.
I remember the turning point for me. I had grown my business to over $8,000 per month and I was feeling quite confident financially. That is until I was walking out a store a $100 Casper pillow in hand and I got an email from a client that was paying me $2,500 a month at the time. They emailed to say they were cancelling effective immediately.
My income had been cut by around 30% at that point and I thought "I can't keep getting these emails that throw me for a loop. I can't keep trying to find clients and have them leave just a couple months later." I needed to make a change and figure out what I could do to create more stability in my business.
Offer, Audience, and Pricing
These are the three things that I nailed down and ended up changing the game for my business.
This may seem obvious, but how many times have you taken work, or thought about taking work, that's outside of what you typically offer?
How many times have you worked with a client that wasn't your ideal person, but you did it because you wanted the money or experience?
How many times have you worked for less than what you know you're worth because you think people just don't have the budget right now?
It wasn't until I truly stuck to my guns on these three things that I:
Started seeing true financial stability
Loved the worked I was doing every day, all day
Had clients truly respect and value my services
So, why do these three things matter so much?
AND, why do you need to establish them right away in your business?
When I was looking at my business, I had no idea what the hell was I offering. Every single one of my clients had something different going on and different tasks they needed done. It ranged from copywriting to social media and advertising.
It's because of this wide range of things that people didn't feel they needed to keep me. I wasn't giving them something specific to hold onto. I wasn't selling them on value, I was selling them on the tasks.
Selling the tasks simply means that you're selling the vehicle that is going to get them to the transformation they're looking to experience. For example, If you book a vacation in Greece, you want to get to the destination, which would be the transformation your clients want to experience.
BUT, by selling on the tasks, you're selling on the vehicle which is basically like selling the airplane that's going to take you to the tropical destination. People want the plane to be safe and solid but that's not what they desire.
They desire the destination.
I really had to narrow down at my offer and focus on the transformation that I was giving people instead of just saying: "Hey, save time and get back to what matters!"
One thing to remember is that time is very rarely a true pain point these days. We all wish there were more hours in the day or more time to get things done. If it's something we all wish we had, then it's simply a way of life.
We need to get into what regaining time would do for someone versus just focusing on the time itself. So, if you're thinking that giving someone more time is the transformation you're going to be providing with your offer, you need to narrow it down more and get more specific!
The next thing I really had to look at was my target audience. I was selling to anybody I could think of and that often lead to sales being a lot harder to land than they should be. It took more convincing, more conversations, and more time to get them to sign on with me.
Having a narrow target audience doesn't necessarily mean you can't work with a variety of different people as you build your business. What it means and does for your business is your marketing and sales will be a lot easier.
Every time you go to create a piece of content, you know exactly what to say because you've dug into what your audience needs and wants. When you go into a discovery call, you know how to relate to your prospect because you know their business model like the back of your hand.
For example, you've decided that you serve Indie Authors. You want to work with Authors within the self-publishing industry. This is a good start but it's too broad. You're missing some key parts of their business that would allow you to help them more effectively, relate to them on a closer level, and ultimately, show them why you would be a good fit for one another.
For me, this was the issue I was having.
I was marketing to everybody and therefore I was marketing to no one. I was a generalist even when it came to my audience, which meant I struggled to sell my services and I struggled to keep my clients beyond a couple of months.
When I ironed out my audience and really chose who I wanted to work with, I found my first dream client who I have now been working with for over two years and has reached over $2,000 per month in invoicing, and I've had the amazing opportunity to work with some amazing business owners that keep coming back to work with me again and again.
I bet you've gone to Google and looked up what a "good" hourly rate is for the kinds of services you want to sell. Maybe that number excites you but maybe it's a little underwhelming. Either way, looking at what other people make is completely irrelevant because everyone's situation is different.
You need to base your prices off of what you need to make to fund your ideal lifestyle.
When I first started my business, I would just think up random numbers and be like "ok, that seems fair." The issue with this is I took a lot longer to reach my income goal AND it also made stopping points really complicated.
If a client wanted more from me or if a task was taking longer, I didn't know when to let them know it would cost more or when I should stop. There were so many grey areas which made hitting my income goal really difficult.
I remember Googling "What does a social media marketer make in Canada?" It came up with something like $30,000 and I just remember feeling so defeated. That wasn't even close to what I needed to make. Was I picking the wrong service? Should I do something else?
It wasn't until I stopped looking at the averages that I was able to map out my ideal pricing! And guess what, people bought my prices!
When I knew what I had to make, I approached every prospect with more confidence and determination, which they loved. I understood my value for the first time and therefore they understood my value too.
Want to save time and unnecessary headache, while also "wowing" clients into working with you? Snag one of my easy to use templates so you can create proposals and onboarding content for your new clients with ease!
Nail these three things!
These three things are what changed the game for me. Once I gave my offer, pricing, and audience real thought and consideration, my business became something I could build with confidence and ease. People started buying my services because they knew I was the right fit for them.
My income grew because I had built my prices off of what I needed to make instead of what Google told me I could make. And my services got me excited to walk into my home office everyday.
So take the time to iron out your offer, audience, and pricing so you can then head out into the world and sell your services with more ease and confidence!