Who said running your own service business had to be unstable and unreliable? Of course it can be, but there are also a number of things that you can do to help keep your business income consistent and sustainable. Here are a few tips from what has worked for me after several years in business.
1. Ask your clients for honest feedback
Have you ever noticed how many places that you buy from are always asking you to leave them feedback? There’s always room for improvement, and it might not be obvious to you what that is when you’re inside your business. Asking for testimonials is great, but how about making sure that your service is not lacking in anything? Ask your customers what they think of your services and if there is anything they think you could improve on.
2. Get a coach or mentor
On the similar topic of not always being able to notice yourself what you’re doing wrong, it can also be highly beneficial to seek targeted support for your business. After all, no person is an island! You could look to engage with a mentor who is a more experienced and/or accomplished person in your industry, or a business coach who can help you develop the right strategies in your business. Another professional (whether free or paid) can see some of your blind spots, help you recognise what you could improve upon and make suggestions that you might not have thought of yourself.
My recommendations: I got some valuable 1:1 mentoring from brilliant VA mentor and strategist Sarah-Jane Heath, who really helped me with keeping my confidence up and adding some structure to my business.
3. Get an accountability partner or join a business accountability or mastermind group
One or a group of peers in your own or other industries can be very useful to talk through your issues and ideas and gain valuable advice from. And likewise, you may even benefit yourself from helping other business owners and freelancers, with increasing your confidence and building your credibility and network. Think of it like having your own cheerleader and being a cheerleader to another business!
My recommendations: ATOMIC Growth Club run by Andrew and Pete, a membership programme full of courses, masterclasses, networking and accountability activities to level up the growth of your business.
4. Upskill yourself by doing some training
Perhaps you’re interested in adding another string to your bow by offering a new service to your clients. Or maybe you realise there are hard skills or soft skills that you could work on to help you deliver a better service. Whatever it is, there’s probably a course or masterclass out there to help you with these!
5. Focus on retainers, packages and larger projects rather than ad-hoc work
Nothing wrong with mainly doing ad-hoc work if that works for you. However, it really transformed my business income and stability once I started focusing on getting retainer clients. It’s very comforting knowing that I’m getting X number of hours a month from retainers, rather than having that ambiguity around at what I might be and earning each month. Certain work is probably still better suited to being ad-hoc – however, for my personality and lifestyle, I like having the retainers as the bread and butter of my business, while ad-hoc can fit in around as needed. Plus, the benefits for the retainer client is that they can budget what they’ll spend on each month, they might prefer the regularity of having essentially a freelance team member, and it’s easier to build more of a relationship.
6. Provide an excellent service
Always strive to provide an excellent service, not just an OK one. Many clients will pay more for an outstanding service that that they will happily return to and recommend to others. It’s all very well to say “charge your worth”, but make sure you’re worthy in the first place! Ensure you always deliver on time (if not, early) and see if there are ways you can go a little above and beyond (without doing yourself out of too much money, of course!). For example, if you’re B2B, continuously make suggestions for improvement in your clients’ businesses.
My recommendations: Client Experience 101 for VAs Masterclass by Hannah Dixon of Digital Nomad Kit, really helped me to look at where my gaps where in servicing my clients and gave me ideas of how to improve.
7. Never stop marketing yourself
It’s important to never stop marketing your business. Even a regular client may suddenly stop one day for whatever reason, and you’ll have to replace them ASAP. Having a healthy pipeline of leads and a waiting list is much better than struggling and scrambling for work.
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