Oftentimes we see entrepreneurs who have BIG dreams to run a successful business, which is seriously amazing. Unfortunately, a lot of these entrepreneurs do not have a detailed plan in order to make their dreams a reality. Something that I often see is business owners who focus on tasks like getting a website up, getting business cards made and getting headshots, when in reality (unless your whole plan is to get business through your website), these are usually not mission-critical tasks when trying to grow a service-based business.
This post will detail the exact steps that you should take in order to grow your service-based business this year.
5 Steps to Grow a Service-Based Business
1. Market Analysis
One of the first tasks when starting a business is to get to know your target audience. It is very important to get to know who you will be selling to so that you are able to connect with them through your marketing efforts.
For example, your target audience might have a really specific pain point, so knowing exactly what that is will make your marketing much more effective. It is very important to show your target audience empathy when you are marketing to them. This will ensure that your marketing is authentic and will come across less sales-y.
In addition, if you know how to reach your target audience and where they look to solve the problem that you can help them with, it will make things much easier when it comes to generating leads. Check out this article where I explain in more detail the importance of identifying your target market.
Another concept related to reaching your target audience involves niching down. Even if you have a business where you would most likely take work from any niche, identifying a few niches and aligning your business offerings with the experiences and pain points of this niche is important. Remember, the riches are in the niches.
2. Marketing Strategy
The next most important step to take when growing your service-based business is to map out your marketing strategy. For this part of the process, I highly recommend modeling your plan after the marketing mix. The Marketing Mix consists of product, price, place, and promotion. Check out this resource from MindTools to learn more.
3. Creating a Plan and Sticking to It
The next piece of this strategy is to not only create a plan but actually stick to it. A lot of entrepreneurs can come up with ideas all day long, but when it comes to executing the idea or vision in the long term, this can be a struggle.
Based on this and my own experience, here is what I recommend:
Map out your business plan in a notebook so that you can refer to it all of the time. Once you know the specific tasks that must be accomplished, take time at the beginning of each month to add each of these tasks to your google calendar.
When you are adding tasks, be sure to get as granular as possible and add specific tasks to specific hours of the day. This is helpful because you are able to account for when in the day you will complete a particular task. Blocking off specific hours of the day also helps you to determine if there truly is enough time in the day to execute these tasks and gives you a reasonable estimate of what you can actually accomplish. This is extremely helpful if you are just starting out and are still working a 9-to-5.
4. Portfolio Work
The next step is all about creating a portfolio of work. Of course, creating a portfolio is crucial for any service-based business because this is what potential clients will have to reference the quality of your work. It is likely that some of these pieces will need to be done free of charge, especially if you have little experience and are just starting out.
It is, however, important to have an idea of when you will start to charge for your services so that you do not continuously do free work. My recommendation is to make a shortlist of the pieces that you will need in your portfolio in order to get your business off the ground. As soon as you have these pieces completed, you can begin charging for all of your work.
Should you do work for free?
From personal experience, I would only do this if this particular client would add a LOT of value to your portfolio. If this is a dream client that could definitely help you to get more clients in the future, then this seems like a good strategy. Otherwise, I do not think that this is usually a good idea.
Just think about it — if you do a free project and someone promises to provide you with exposure, and the client isn’t really a dream client and then doesn’t hold up their end of the deal, it probably wouldn’t be worth it for you. Alternatively, if you do free work for a dream client and they do not hold up their end of the deal in providing exposure, you still have an amazing piece of work for your portfolio that will certainly impress potential clients in the future.
5. Re-evaluate and Get Feedback From Clients
The final step when it comes to growing a service-based business is the process of evaluating your work and asking for feedback. Oftentimes entrepreneurs skip this step because of the fear that comes with asking for feedback. Although it can be stressful at first, the more you do it, the better off you will be.
For example, if you ask a client for feedback and they provide you with constructive criticism around your process or end product, this could absolutely help you in the future. What if this criticism was something that is actually make or break for clients or is holding you back from getting more referrals?
It can be tough asking for feedback, but oftentimes this is something that we need in order to improve our craft. When you work for yourself you do not have a boss or manager guiding you on how to improve your work, but you do have the opportunity to ask your clientele how you could improve.
I hope this post has been helpful and you have an idea of how you can use these steps to grow your service-based business. Remember, it is all about creating a well-informed plan, sticking to it, and closing the loop with feedback.
About the Author
Morgan is a video production business owner and content creator within the digital marketing niche! When she is not producing videos for clients, she focuses on her blog, morgankg.com, and social media outlets to teach the most effective methods in digital marketing.
Katie Jenison is a freelance writer offering copywriting, blogging, and ghostwriting services. She works closely with home builders, remodelers, interior designers, real estate and property management professionals to help them create content marketing strategies, improve their digital presence, generate leads, and engage with their target audience. Katie also helps freelance writers and creative entrepreneurs pursue their dreams of working from home by providing tips and advice, business strategies, and writing tips on her blog, The Quiet Type. Download her free workbook, A Freelancer’s Guide to Setting Rates, here.