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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 November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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