4 different ways to scale your business and how to decide which one’s right for you.

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4 ways to scale your business (and how to decide which one’s right for you. Janine wears an orange dress, looks happy and has both thumbs up

We all want to scale our businesses, yes? 

Ok, perhaps not everyone. 

Personally, I aspire to earn more than I could ever have working in corporate. Not because I’m a money hungry she-wolf, but because money equals choice and freedom. When I have plenty of money, I buy more ethically, give more to charity, save for my family’s future and I’m able to help my clients more because I’m relaxed and not stressed!

So, if that sounds a bit like you then you’re in the right place because I’m going to lay out the 4 main ways to grow your business.

Before we go on, let’s get clear on what I mean by ‘scaling your business’.

Scaling your business is the process of increasing profits while reducing the time and/ or effort needed by you, the business owner.

Me, I just said that.

So we’re talking about growth of profit here not turnover, pre-cost revenue, number of customers or team head count. 

Doubling your turnover or number of clients isn’t any good if your costs have tripled and you’re actually worse off than you were before. (Of course, there are times when you might sacrifice short-term profit for long term gain, but I’m not getting into that in this blog.)

1. Raise your prices

Yes, I know this sounds simplistic, but for a lot of people this is the quickest thing you can do to increase profits while reducing the time and effort needed!

A copywriter came to me for this very reason- she was working all the hours, was getting totally shattered but still not earning a decent salary. And this woman was a master at what she did and delivered to the highest standards too. We reworked her cost structure which meant fewer clients but more income.

A relaxed service provider is able to produce higher quality results, did you know that..?

Plus you have lots of lovely side benefits when you raise your prices because higher-priced services:

  • Are perceived as higher value and therefore often more attractive. Sounds weird but it’s true, just look at your favourite entrepreneur-famous nemesis in your field. I bet they’re charging more for less support, am I right?
  • Are often just as easy/ difficult to sell than low priced options. It’s all about how you position them.
  • Attract people who are ready to invest, will respect your expertise, and will fulfil their end of the bargain.

I could rattle on all day about why you should raise your prices now and not put it off so I’ll say no more. Also I’ve said most if it in my blog 5 reasons why now is the perfect time to raise your prices.

Who should be raising their prices?

I’m tempted to say everyone but that would be simplistic. There is a spot beyond which you will see a tail-off in demand i.e. if you’re too expensive people will stop buying, but that spot is much higher than most people think.

In general, I’d suggest if you’re just starting out, do challenge yourself if you find yourself thinking ‘lower priced things are easier to sell and I just need sales right now’. Lower priced things aren’t easier to sell and you’ll need to sell a heck of a lot more of them to make some decent money. Tricky if you’re just starting out and not many people know who you are yet…

Been putting off raising your prices? Check out my free 6 Steps To Charging More With 100% Confidence guide. 

2. Package up your services

Again, there’s a chance you’ve already sailed past this step, but it’s worth mentioning. 

No matter what type of service you provide, whether it’s copywriting, social media management or coaching, it’s always better to present your services as a solution rather than a per hour, per day, per session commodity.

Why? Because people don’t want an hour of your time they want a resolution to a problem or they want to get to somewhere lovely and comfy and pleasurable. Like sipping mojitos on a beach. 

You wouldn’t sell air travel by the mile would you? You sell the destination. So why do it with your own services?

If you’ve been thinking about packaging up your services, but need a little nudge before you take the plunge read: 6 reasons why charging by units of time could be harming your business.

Who should be packaging up their services?

Again, I really want to say everyone! But there are some situations that are not so cut and dry.

For instance, say you’re a VA who loves general admin plus the odd interesting project and you’re happily chugging along charging £35 an hour. 

If you were to decide that the tasks you love most are managing inboxes, repurposing lives into online courses and book keeping and you only sold those packages from now on, you have just significantly changed your business model and the people who are likely to buy from you. 

Your whole website, marketing, social media content would probably have to change. That’s a big decision and I could see why you might not want to do that. Particularly since there are so many people looking for someone with ‘VA’ as their label, not ‘inbox zero service provider.

It can be a tricky balance! 

That very specific example aside, I’d still argue that most people should at least have a bash at packaging up a service, even if it’s alongside unit-based pricing.

If you want to give it a go, or even just check that a new service idea of yours will sell, have a read of this: How to make sure your service offer will definitely sell: A step-by-step guide

3. Outsource/ get associates to deliver your work

Assuming that you haven’t started your business as an agency from the get-go, this scaling option is one that you could consider after you’re getting real traction in your business and you’re attracting more leads than you can handle.

This model can work whether you’re a done-for-you service provider e.g. content writer, VA, web designer, or whether you’re a coach, trainer or consultant. You can always have trusted associates to deliver some or all of your work for you.

Who should use associates?

The people I know who’ve successfully moved to an associate model have either previous experience of people management, they’re extremely good at project management or they’ve got previous experience of working in an agency and they’ve loved it. 

There are all sorts of added responsibilities that pile onto your plate when you’re bringing on other people to deliver your work load, not least customer experience. How do you make sure your associates are delivering work to your standards and that the results will be consistent? The answer is having a repeatable process and systems for quality assurance. So if that’s not your bag, you’re probably not going to love the agency life. 

Nicole Osbourne, founder of Wunderstars, is the queen of agency growth, check out some of her resources here: Agency Growth Secrets.

N.B. Keep an eye on your costs. If your client base is booming and you’re having to take on more and more associates it might feel like you’ve hit the big time. But not if most of your revenue is now going on paying other people’s salaries. More effort for less profit? That’s no-one’s idea of successful scaling.

4. Scalable offers or ‘passive’ income

Welcome to the buffet! There are SO many different scalable options open to you, and all of them can be chopped up and mixed together like a delicious salad Lyonnaise. 

A quick word on passive income- there is no truly passive income. Just ask the CEO of a multinational. They’re not dealing with any of the manufacturing, sourcing, customer delivery etc. but they probably wouldn’t describe their role as passive.

Here’s a brief overview of the main four go-to options for you to consider:

Do one-to-one differently

If you already deliver one-to-one programmes to your clients, put your objective glasses on (you have a pair of those, right?) and take a long hard look at how you’re delivering it.

Is there a way you could deliver the same results more efficiently? 

Could you:

  • Shorten or reduce the amount of Zoom calls you have?
  • Use other methods for contact like Whatsapp or Voxer? 
  • Record tutorials for the bits that you deliver to clients live time and again and have those available ready for you to prescribe to clients when they need them?
  • Automate certain parts of your service e.g. if you have accountability built into your service could you automate task reminder emails or use software to help clients track their progress?

There might be some quick wins here. Ways to shave of a few hours here and there or simply take some pressure off your brain capacity by not having to reinvent the process again and again for similar types of customers.

Group programmes

The easiest way to create and launch a group programme is to take what you already do, standardise the process and start to help several people at a time. 

For bonus points, you can package and brand that process so it makes the value super clear to your audience and makes it as attractive as possible. (You might’ve already done this for your one-to-one service offerings). 

It’s always best to wait until you have a steady influx of good quality leads before you launch a group programme, otherwise trying to fill each round will be a right pain in the wotnot.

Memberships 

Memberships should only be attempted when you’re really gaining momentum. Your audience is growing, your content machine is motoring, and you’re ready to offer something lower ticket and higher volume.

They’re not a great option if you’re running your business on your own and don’t like the idea of being ‘on’ for most days of most weeks. Although I do know people who manage to run a membership and still take regular holidays and weekends off. If the boundaries are clear from the start, your members should respect them.

You can of course get community managers in to help, but that will increase your costs of course.

DIY Online Courses

Strictly speaking, if you’re a newbie; you haven’t got much of an audience or email list yet, I’d suggest that you give online course creation a miss for now. It’s not going to generate a tonne of revenue in a short period of time. 

However, you can put together an online course with cheap if not free software, and if you hit on a topic that solves an urgent problem for people, you could end up with a lucrative side line. 

Online courses are the most passive of the four options I’ve mentioned here. You build it and in theory they can be bought wherever, whenever, without you having to get involved in the delivery at all. You do still have to sell them of course. But if you’re creating content regularly and building your audience anyway, weaving in the odd call to action here are there when relevant isn’t as onerous as the maintenance of a membership, for instance.

For a more thorough investigation into which scalable offer type would be best for you read my blog: Which business model is best for you: one-to-one Vs group programme Vs membership Vs DIY courses

Other scalable options:

There are others like masterminds, tool kits (a bundle of useful templates, checklists and tutorials) writing books, in-person retreats, affiliates, events the list goes on. 

Which is right for you?

Using my extra-sensory perception I can guess that you might have chosen to do a combination of the things mentioned here. Check that service could be delivered more efficiently… Raise the price of that one-to-one service…

Of course it’s all for nothing if you’re finding it tricky to sell your services.

Which is why I’ve put together this: How to make sure your service offer will definitely sell: A step-by-step guide. It takes you through the whole process of positioning your services so they’re set up to be urgently wanted by your ideal clients.