Starting up a service-based business is a challenge quite different from running a product-based operation. The magic alchemy of how to secure funding to launch and scaling up operations can be a little overwhelming when what you’re really marketing is yourself.
If you go to market with a product, things like calculating a profit margin, building inventory and sales and marketing are all much more straightforward. These challenges are much harder to navigate when you’re operating on a service basis.
The critical success factors are different, but there is some common ground – exceptional customer service, building relationships with customer advocates, and providing added value at the right price are all fundamental. However, you’ll find there are a few additional factors where it pays to excel.
Become A Thought Leader
When you’re selling your expertise, you need to position yourself as the go-to source on your subject, so develop a strategy around positioning yourself as an expert.
Seek out opportunities to speak, find out local networking events, publish some white papers which add value and net you some customer data, and join a few LinkedIn groups where you can publish pieces or contribute to various topics.
Raise your profile by being accessible and responsive on social media and join any conference panels that you can. Doing these things can feel a little out of your comfort zone, but you will reap the benefits at a later stage.
Get The Right Support
Your business, whether you run a graphic design company or a business consultancy, depends on you developing and maintaining a great reputation. Especially in the B2B community, people talk and rely largely on personal recommendations and with the power of social media, you’ll find that customers are more connected than ever before.
But even if you’re a committed professional, you need to have the right back up in place. Business is an ecosystem, and if you don’t get the right level of service from a supplier that you rely on, that can quickly reflect in the service you give others. So take your time choosing things like Local Chartered Accountants, legal services and office supplies to make sure that you won’t be let down.
Create Your Secret Sauce
What does your business do differently to set it apart? Every great company needs to be able to concisely articulate what makes them different, and why a client should choose you over another. This starts with a process of defining your brand values and coming up with the ‘why’ of what you do, and being able to communicate that clearly.
You need to be able to clearly quantify and document the value that you add – not only does this make your offer clear, but it also allows you to replicate what you do through training – an asset you will need if you ever want to expand through taking on staff or building your own franchise.
Innovative processes and principles apply to even the most niche, custom based service business, so make sure that you can define what it is and spread the word.