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5 Key Steps Towards Starting Your Service Business Today

5 Key Steps Towards Starting Your Service Business Today

Most people believe that starting their own venture is hard. Yet, with all the technology and a global market of opportunities available right at your doorstep through the world web, the whole thing is much simpler than you think.

As long as you have certain skills others are willing to pay for, you can launch a successful service business in just a few days. All you need is – some upfront investment, a honed business idea and the right amount of creativity with a pinch of patience and determination to make it work!

Step 1: Take The Time To Brainstorm Your Unique Sales Offer

You already have an idea of what kind of service you will sell. That’s great. But to make real business happen, you’ll have to narrow down your big general idea of say offering design services, to a more specific set of routines and tasks. Having a niche and honing your sales pitch to cater to a very specific target group will increase your chances of winning that business.

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So start with asking yourself the next questions:

  • Who is my ideal client? Is it a small business owner, startup, independent creative entrepreneurs? What are their key problems and how can I help to solve them?
  • How will I bundle my services to win more work consistently? Do I plan to offer standalone services only, retainers or specific packages? How will the prices differ in each case?
  • Will I charge per-hour fees or flat project rates? There are certain pros and cons involved in each case.
  • What can possibly go wrong? How will you handle difficult clients or refunds? What would be my policy in such cases?

Step 2: Create a Simple Business Plan

After you’ve pondered a bit on the questions outlined above, mold your thoughts into an actual business plan. No, there’s no need to write a lengthy corporate-styled copy. Think of this as a quick and motivating document, which will help you to keep the focus on your initial business vision and future objectives.

Here are some of the important elements to include in this case:

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  • Your mission statement aka how you will differentiate yourself from other service providers; what are your main goals and what value do you plan to deliver to your customers.
  • Add a summary of your ideal client.
  • Outline your brand’s vibe, style, and objectives.
  • Outline the exact services you are planning to offer along with prices.
  • State your desired monthly income, a number of hours you plan to work per week/month and calculate the respective hourly rate.
  • Jot down the monthly business expenses you’ll possibly have – payment processing fees, domain + hosting, subscription tools etc.
  • Summarize how you plan to attract clients and promote your business – via social media, cold pitching, blogging, through freelance marketplaces etc? Be crystal clear with the strategies you’d be trying and how much time you can devote to those on a daily/weekly basis.

Step 3: Prepare The Required Resources

Considering that you now have a clear vision of how your business will operate and how you may need to organize your day-to-day chores, it’s time to focus on assembling the right list of essentials you need for operating. That includes:

A Portfolio Website/Blog

This is that piece of web estate, where you’ll advertise your services and expertise. Choose a professional sounding domain/brand name or purchase a domain under your own name (if those are available).

Your website should include at the next key pages – homepage, services page, portfolio/testimonials, contact and about you page. Also, don’t forget to create or update your social media profiles with the handle to suit your business name.

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Project Management and Time Management Tools

Think how you will handle your client work and what kind of tools can facilitate you to reduce the time required for routine tasks. Here are some handy suggestions:

  • Boomerang for Gmail – to schedule auto-responders and delayed emails. Handy when you need to send out the initial project requirements survey/template to the clients.
  • Bookinglive – a handy software to allow clients to book sessions with you straight from your website and charge payments.
  • Trello – a visual project management tool to manage your day-to-day tasks.
  • Toggl – a time-tracking tool, which will help you estimate more accurately the time you spend on various client tasks.
  • Freshbooks – accounting and invoicing software for small business owners and freelancers to keep all the financial data neatly organized.

You can grab more suggestions on apps and tools from this post.

Human Resources

Do you plan to run your venture solo or hire some assistance early on? Make sure you only commit to hiring the team, when you have enough capital to invest in the first place.

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However, even if your financial resources are somewhat limited, do consider outsourcing such mundane tasks as accounting/taxes, legal work e.g. company incorporation and small admin tasks e.g. managing your social media or doing some kind of data entry work. All of the routine, which can be summed up as non-billable hours.

Step 4: Start Marketing Your Services

Your website is up and running. Your LinkedIn profile is updated and shining. You’ve stashed your portfolio with some goodies and grabbed the testimonials from former employers.

Now, it’s time to market your services. Here are some of the most actionable strategies:

  • Browse remote positions at popular job search websites.
  • Cold-pitch businesses, who fit into your target audience mold.
  • Write a guest post on a popular blog in your niche.
  • Get active in relevant Facebook Groups and online communities where other freelancers and business owners hang out.
  • Consider registering at a few popular online freelance marketplaces and pitch clients there.
  • Tell your friends and family about your new status and ask them to spread the word for you.
  • Network on LinkedIn and in relevant LinkedIn groups.
  • Attend a networking event in your area to make business happen in person.
  • Reach out to your former employers and ask whether they’d be interested in working with you or can refer you to someone.

Step 5: Set Your Future Goals and Optimize Your Performance

After your business finally takes off, you should not sit down and relax immediately. Make sure that you are marketing your services consistently to avoid the notorious feast/famine cycles; track your income and expenses accurately and consider various further optimization strategies (aka how you can earn more while working less); thinking about the supplementary non-service based income streams and work hard on keeping a pool of happy anchor clients, who pay you diligently on a monthly basis.

Don’t forget about investing in self-education either as that’s the key to further business growth!

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Elena Prokopets

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on July 22, 2019

10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

A cover letter is an introduction to what will be found in the resume. In a cover letter, the applicant is able to use a conversational tone, to explain why the attached resume is worth reviewing, why the applicant is qualified, and to express that it’s the best application the reader will see for the open position.

Employers do read your cover letter, so consider the cover letter an elevator pitch. The cover letter is the overview of your professional experience. The information in the body presents the key qualifications, the things that matter. The cover letter is the “here is what will be found in my presentation”, which is the resume in this case.

Something really important to point out- a cover letter should be written from scratch each time. Great cover letters are the ones that express why the applicant is the best for the specific job being applied to. Using a general cover letter will not lead to great results.

This doesn’t mean that your cover letter should repeat your most valuable qualifications, it just means that you don’t want to recycle a templated, general letter, not specific to the position being applied to.

Here’re 10 cover letter tips to nail every interview.

1. Take a few minutes to learn about the company so that you use an appropriate tone

Like people, every company has its own culture and tone. Doing a bit of research to learn what that is will be extremely beneficial. For instance, a technology start-up has a different culture and tone than a law firm. Using the same tone for both would be a mistake.

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2. Don’t use generic cover letter terms — be specific to each company and position

Hiring managers and recruiters can easily identify generic cover letters. They read cover letters and resumes almost every day. Using words and terms like: “your company” instead of naming the actual company, and “your website” instead of “in your about us section on www.abc123.com”, are mistakes. Be as specific as possible, it’s worth the additional few minutes.

3. Address the reader directly if you can

It is an outdated practice to use “To Whom it May Concern” if you know the person that will be reviewing your documents. You may wonder how you’ll know this information; this is where attention to detail and/or a bit of research comes into play.

For example, if you are applying for a job using LinkedIn, many times, the job poster is listed within the job post. This is the person reading your documents when you “apply now”. Addressing that person directly will be much more effective than using a generic term.

4. Don’t repeat the information found in the resume

A resume is an action-based document. When presenting information in a resume, the tone isn’t conversational but leading with action instead, for example: “Analyze sales levels and trends, and initiate action as necessary to ensure attainment of sales objectives”.

In a cover letter, you have the opportunity to deliver your elevator pitch: “I have positively impacted business development and growth initiatives, having combined two regions into one and achieving 17% in compound growth over the following three-year period”.

Never use your resume qualifications summary as a paragraph in your resume. This would be repeating information. Keep in mind that your cover letter is the introduction to your resume- the elevator pitch- this is your opportunity to show more personality.

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5. Tell the company what you can do for them

As mentioned above, this is your chance to explain to the company why you are the best person for the open position. This is where you tell the company what you can do for them: “If hired as the next (job title) with (company name), I will cultivate important partnerships that will enhance operations while boosting revenue.”

Many times, we want to take the reader through the journey of our life. It is important to remember that the reader needs to know why you are the best person for the job. Lead with that.

6. Showcase the skills and qualifications specific to the position

A lot of people are Jack’s and Jill’s of all trades. This can be a great big picture, but not great to showcase in a cover letter or resume.

Going back to what was mentioned before, cover letters and resumes are scanned through ATS. Being as specific as possible to the position being applied to is important.

If you are applying for a coding position, it may not be important to mention your job in high school as a dog walker. Sticking to the exact job being applied to is the most effective way to write your cover letter.

7. Numbers are important — show proof

It always helps to show proof when stating facts: “I have a reputation for delivering top-level performance and supporting growth so that businesses can thrive; established industry relationships that generated double digit increase in branch revenues”.

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8. Use testimonials and letters of recommendations

A cover letter is a great place to add testimonials and information from your letter of recommendations. Mirroring the example above, here is a good way to use that information:

I have a history of consistently meeting and exceeding metrics: “(Name) rose through the company and became a Subject Matter Expert, steadily providing exceptional quality of work.”- Team Manager.

9. Find the balance between highlighting your achievements and bragging

There is fine line between telling someone about your achievements and bragging. My advice is to always use facts first, and support that with an achievement related to the fact, as shown in the examples above.

You don’t want to have a cover letter with nothing but bullet points of what you have achieved. I can’t stress this enough — cover letters are your elevator pitch, the introduction to your resume.

10. Check your length — you want to provide no more than an introduction

The general rule for most positions is one page in length. Positions such as professors and doctors will require more in length (and they actually use CV’s); however, for most positions, one page is sufficient. Remember, the cover letter is an introduction and elevator pitch. Follow the logic below to get you started:

Start with: “I am ready to deliver impeccable results as (name of company) next (Position Title).

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What you know and like about the company, what initiatives, missions, goals resonate with you: “I read/listened to an interview that your Chief of Staff did on www.abc123.com. His/her statement regarding important up and coming employee engagement initiatives really resonated with me”.

Overview of your qualifications and experience: “I have a strong background in developing, monitoring, and controlling annual processes and operational plans related to community relations and social initiatives”.

Highlight/ Back up your facts with achievements: “I’m a vision-driven leader, with a proven history of innovation and mentorship; I led an initiative that reduced homelessness in four counties and received recognition from the local Homeless Network and the County Commissioner”.

Close with what will you do for the company: “As your next (job title), I am focused on hitting the ground running as a transformational leader who is driven by challenge, undeterred by obstacles, and committed to the growth of (name of company).

Bonus Advice

When applying for a job online or in person, a resume and a cover letter are standard submissions. At least 98% of the time, both your resume and cover letter and scanned via ATS (applicant tracking systems). You can learn more about that process here.

The information provided in a cover letter should be written and organized to be compatible with these scans, so that it can make to a human; from there, you want to make sure that you capture the recruiter and/or hiring managers attention.

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Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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