🚀 ProductizedKit | Free resource on how to start a business with a productized service

How to Start a Business with a Productized Service

An Easy Step-by-Step Guide for new entrepreneurs, freelancers, consultants and agency owners who want to help people and make recurring income without burning out. The solution is to productize a service. This is also for you if you are looking for ideas on how to start a business.

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🆓 About this Free, Step-by-Step Guide

🧗‍♂️

Made for Beginners

This guide is very detailed, yet very easy to follow even if you’ve never started your own business before.​

🚀

Based on Experience

I have grown my own productized service business, and you can learn from my mistakes to avoid them.​

⛑️

Free Support

No fees if you’d like to ask me questions on this. Happy to help you get your business off the ground fast.​

Table of Contents

🤔 What is a Productized Service Business

I see it as a way to remove yourself from your business so you don’t have to trade hours for dollars.

It’s the act of standardisation. Productizing a service is where you create a packaged, predefined set of solutions, scope and offers to solve existing problems for clients.

Instead of going through discovery sessions with clients because you don’t know what they want, and crafting customized solutions for them, you create them ahead of time and deliver to clients what you offer. This is similar to having set meals when dining in restaurants.

More often than not, when you productize your services, your pricing will be fixed, either per package or by a set amount of time such as daily or monthly. This is unlike the traditional model where a service provider goes on a discovery call with prospects to know what they want, craft out a custom offer, proposal and quote.

To illustrate this further with a real-life situation, here’s my experience being a freelance graphic designer between 2005 to 2015:

🧱 My Steps as a Freelancer

Step 1 — Call with client

Client explains what they need, example, a website designed based on their brand guide. She claims she only needs a simple one without anything else, just an information site.

Step 2 — Quote and proposal

I take at most three days to develop the timelines, proposed ideas and a rough quote based on her call. I’m not paid for these and the few days work are done out of my own use of time.

Step 3 — Present

Once I’m satisfied with my proposal, I send an email to the client for her to consider. At times, this takes another few days for the client to respond. There are many times when they get busy and don’t respond. That’s when I will follow up until they tell me they’ve got someone else to help them or they are not going ahead with it.

Step 4 — Negotiation

Here’s when a client is keen to work with me, but the price is not so right. She gets back to me to ask for a better price or more services at the same price. This step may go on for days, sometimes months or even a year. If I was cash-strapped, I usually relent and work with clients at the price they want. That also means, lower than expected income, affecting my desired revenue to pay bills and fund my lifestyle.

Step 5 — Start work

If the client is keen to go ahead, she puts down a deposit based on my proposal, usually 50% of the quote. I start work and update the client every other day with the progress.

Step 6 — Where things get complicated

Even with the proposal agreed upon, the client starts asking for additional services or scope out of what was discussed at the beginning.

Here’s when I get into a tug-of-war. I want to work with her, earn more income so I agreed to find a way to provide what she asks for. At the same time, I don’t wish to do that because it will mean taking more time than expected, which also means I will not know when I will be paid the other 50% of the quote.

In theory, it’s wiser to let her know we will complete the website as agreed, have her pay in full before we proceed. But she may not agree with this.

As a service provider, I get into another dilemma: “should I risk losing her as a long term client by persuading her to complete her website first?”.

The above steps are repeated with as many clients I can work with. The only way to sustain my lifestyle and maintain the quality of my work is to increase my fees. This also leads to “chasing” some clients away.

Freelancing may be a great way for you to test things out before fully committing yourself in a business. But if your goal is to achieve financial freedom and recurring income in the next five to ten years, you should consider building a business that can run without your direct involvement as much as possible.

If you want more details, I’ve shared my own journey in this article on why freelance designing is not worth it

💰 Make money while you sleep

As you can tell from the 6 steps above, when I was a freelancer, I was the one working as the salesperson, designer and fulfilment officer. At any point in time, if I had to take a break due to some reason, the whole business has to be shut down until I return to work.

Also, there was so much back and forth communication that I had to make with the prospect and client: Request for quotes, proposals, negotiation of fees, negotiation of timelines, sending invoices, not receiving fees on time and endless chasing for payment.

Not forgetting, a lot of time has passed during these processes, which could have been put to better use, such as growing the business with more sales and marketing.

This made me loath working with people for quite some time. I felt so tired and burned out, I was asking myself if I can never have to work with anyone ever again?

In a productized service business, these can all be eliminated. You can fix the items to be delivered, timelines and pricing. In this way, you can ask for payment upfront, no more discussion on what services the customer is looking for, and no more chasing for payment.

And, since you know exactly what is to be delivered, you can hire people to handle the day-to-day operations. In this way, you can remove yourself from a large part of your business.

In my case, I used to do graphic design work for clients round the clock solo, skipping meals and sleep. After productizing my services, I’ve hired designers to take over this part of my business and that freed up my time to find areas to innovate and grow.

Besides upfront payment, I’m able to earn a recurring income month after month because each customer signs up to our service on a subscription-basis. I see myself selling less, doing less yet serving more, earning more and feeling more appreciated like never before.

You can design such a productized service business too and I’m going to show you how.

🏔️ How to Start a Business With a Productized Service in 3 Easy Steps

The Ultimate Guide to Start a Business with a Productized Service and Make Predictable Recurring Income

Step 1

Pre-define Your Services

Step 2

Hire the right experts

Step 3

Sell and repeat

🎁 Step 1: Pre-define services

No more wait and see, ala-carte approach or living from project to project, not knowing what expertise is required and what I will be getting.

Instead, I’m offering my clients a “lunch set menu” where they will be getting, for example, a bowl of soup, a plate of cheese macaroni and a creme brulee.

They know what they will be getting and the exact price for it, nothing more, nothing less. As a service provider, I know exactly the ingredients required to cook and serve lunch.

Here are 3 criteria for a productized service business to bring you recurring income:

  1. You have proof that this will provide you with repeating business or ongoing demand
  2. You don’t have to explain too much for prospects to know what you are selling
  3. You won’t run out of people with the skillsets to deliver such a service

If you are already a freelancer, consultant or agency owner serving existing clients, start by running through all the services that you are currently offering. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Which services do they come back to ask you to help them with over and over again
  2. Make a list of services that are most commonly asked for

If you aren’t working with existing clients yet and if people around you are not asking you for any professional help, here are two ways to do this:

Method 1:

Get started by joining forums, communities and groups. I was doing this even when I had existing clients. That’s because these communities reveal clues on what solutions we should create that people will pay for on an ongoing basis.

Look at the problems you see people in communities are facing (problems first, solutions second)

You do not have to build your own community from scratch when you are starting out. You can leverage other communities by joining them.

You must go to where your future customers already are to learn what they say and what they are looking for. Be engaged in the conversations are in there and pick out topics that you have some expertise in.

Next, ask yourself these questions to qualify the service that may work well:

  1. Is more than one person complaining about the same thing missing from a service they are patronizing?
  2. Are they asking for the same thing over and over again?
  3. How frequent are people in these communities asking for this same thing?
 

Method 2:

The second way is to decide on a few problems you are facing yourself.

In your everyday work and life, I’m sure there are countless tasks you do repeatedly. What are these tasks?

These tasks may be simple ones:

  1. Creating presentation decks with heavy content
  2. Using Canva for 4 hours a day to create social media images
  3. Following up on potential leads
  4. Folding clothes?

List them all down, but don’t settle for any of them just yet. A common mistake I see most people do is to start a business around their passions only and what they love doing more than around a problem that people are looking to eliminate badly.

It’s great to do something you have a passion for, but it’s not great when nobody is willing to pay you for you to enjoy doing it.

Truth is, nobody will care about your passions unless your passions help solve their problems.

The only exception to starting a business based on one’s passion is when your passion is in solving problems for others.

Other than that, if you want to start a business based on your passion, it’s fine. Just make sure that’s not the only reason, and that there’s a big enough ongoing demand to give you a recurring income.

How to find out what is on-demand and fill the gap

For both methods 1 and 2, the steps to helping you pick the one thing to start with are the same.

You can leverage Facebook Groups to find out what most people are frustrated with.

There are tons of Facebook groups. How do you know which Facebook Group to join?

Go back to your list of expertise and passions. You are not necessarily going to cast any of that in stone forever, but you have to start somewhere.

Say you pick “web design” as an area where you know you can help someone with.

Next, ask yourself, which industry includes people who may need graphic design help. It may be people like coaches who constantly need to create workbooks or materials to help their students.

Then, go to Facebook and search for “coaches” to search for a group meant for coaches.

You will see groups for coaches show up on the right side.

searching facebook group for coaches example

Select the group with the most members for starters.

With more people in the group, there’s a higher chance for more people talking about your topic on “web designers”.

For the purpose of this example, I’ve selected “The Coaching Jungle”.

Some groups are private but free to access.

Click on the “Join” icon that’s in grey to be approved to access by the group’s admin.

Once you have access, click on the search icon on the group’s page.

A search bar pops up, then, enter “web designers” in this search bar.

Enter web designers or search term into Facebook group search bar

A page opens up with the results of posts that include the words “web designers” in them.

 

Search for niche by entering your search term into search bar of Facebook group

How to test if your productized service business truly works

Once you’ve shortlisted your offers and decided what service to productize, it’s time to test it out. What you will be testing now is not the business model or revenue model. At least not yet. You will get to do that in the later steps.

The test here is to find out if your solution is valuable enough to solve an ongoing problem that people are willing to pay you for.

You are testing out because you don’t want to spend too much time and money investing in resources for something that not enough people want to buy to keep your business sustainable.

You’d also want to make sure there are enough committed people who are willing to pay you for your services before you commit to your business.

Your mother, great friends or people around you may find that your ideas are great. But this does not mean you have enough people willing to part their money for your services.

This is not to say you have to stick to what you’ve started to do.

But you have to start somewhere, with the least time taken, minimal execution effort and costs.

Your tests should involve charging a fee for your services.

Testing if people are willing to part with their money for your productized service, not just today, but every day on a recurring basis is telling you that your service is something they want.

Here’s an example of what I’ve done before that you can try to test your productized service:

 

facebook group post sample to test productized service business

A Facebook Group litmus test to start a productize service business

In this example, I’ve joined a community that’s related to digital marketing, which includes people who have a pressing problem I can solve.

I’ve also made sure it’s buzzing with activity on a daily basis with at least 10,000 people. This tells me that there is a chance my post will be seen and there will be at least a few comments to give me feedback on my test service.

Then, I created a hypothesis or assumption around the problem that digital marketers in general have.

Next, I posted a question to get feedback on my solution to their pain point. and offered to give something back in return for their time.

A few people needed such help immediately and we connected right away. Others were interested to know more and purchased the service sometime later.

Tests like this are free, instant and real.

How to deliver your productized service

After knowing what people are looking for in communities and the solution they will pay for to solve their problems, it’s time for you to set up the stages of what you are going to do to deliver your productized service to your customers when they sign up.

Here are the stages of how my unlimited graphic design subscription-based productized service delivers a graphic to each customer:

Stage 1: Once signed up, new customers will receive a welcome email. They are given a dedicated Google Drive folder to upload their assets, brand style guide and content. They will be asked to send their first request.

Stage 2: Our senior designer receives the first request, check the given assets and content to make sure all information is clear and provided by the customers.

Stage 3: Our senior designer hands the first request to the team’s designer and provides concepts, art direction and timelines. The team’s designer gets to work.

Stage 4: Once the request is done, the team’s designer notifies the senior designer who quality checks the work.

Stage 5: If there’s anything to be revised, the senior designer hands the request back to the designer to make changes. Otherwise, it will be delivered to the customer.

Stage 6: This repeats with every request.

Create an organizational chart

My purpose of productizing my design services includes creating a financially independent life with recurring income, rather than be tied to any day-to-day tasks.

I used to be a solo freelancer who had to be physically doing the artwork for clients, being on calls with them and responding to their emails. If I don’t work, I don’t get any income.

It was only after 10 years of trading my hours for dollars that I found myself finally learning to build a better service business. The only options I had were:

  1. Start a SaaS (Software as a Service)
  2. Sell products
  3. Productize my services and build a team to help

At the same time, I came across the book, The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber.

In his book, he talked about creating an organizational chart to map out who is going to help with what. This helps you to decide on things like pricing, people to hire, areas to cover and what kind of services you have the expertise to offer.

From the above 3 options, I’ve tried it all, from learning to code WordPress templates to starting mail-kit delivery services.

After failing and going into a half a million dollars in debt, I knew the only way was to get back up by first using my time to earn back some income to pay my debts. Then, start to hire expertise and build a team to help when I start making enough profits.

Here’s the organization chart I did when I first started in 2015 and on the right track till today:

 

sample organizational chart for productized service business startup

You don’t need any powerful, expensive tool to get this done, I did this with Google Drawings. You can also use good old PowerPoint to draw this up in less than 30 minutes.

Most of your time will be spent on deciding who to do what.

When I first drew this up, there was only Anders Lau and myself. Nobody you see on this organizational chart existed at that time.

But I filled in the blanks based on my own vision of how I’d like my company to become.

Feel free to use my chart as a template to start with yours.

How to price your productized service and make recurring income

The aim of this guide is to help you earn recurring income rather than feast or famine. Hence, you will first learn how to use the subscription-pricing model for your productized service which has helped me the most to earn recurring income compared to other models.

There are other pricing models and productized business models which you will learn more about later. Once your productized service business gets going, you may wish to try out different pricing models to build upon your business.

In this section, I will run through what I’ve done to forecast or predict the recurring income I can make without actually selling anything for real. All by just using a spreadsheet.

This is not going to be as fun as you thought starting a business would be because this is when you may be greeted with numbers that shout “you will make a loss” before you even started.

Is this good or bad news? I used to think this is a wet blanket and avoided doing this before starting all my failed businesses in the past.

I avoided this because I didn’t want this to stop me from starting a business.

I didn’t want to face the realities of the numbers.

Somehow I had a feeling that if I were to do a full, deep calculation of costs and revenue, the results would show that I will make huge losses.

Deep down I knew that when we do business, we have to make a profit at some point, but I didn’t listen to that, because I chose to listen to my ego.

I didn’t start a business for wealth building, profit-making or to fulfil a need.

I started one to have fun, look successful, avoid working for others, be my own boss and have full control of my own schedule.

I didn’t want the numbers to stop me from having fun, even if I’d make a loss in financial terms.

Before 2015, I never did any in-depth calculations of profit and loss at all, and wondered why I couldn’t reach the financial freedom I had sought for.

Until I started a deep search for books on entrepreneurship and startup.

I came across a book called “The 7-Day Startup” by Dan Norris. This was the book that altered my mindset and business model, which ultimately led me productizing my design service business.

Dan Norris built and scaled a WordPress fixing service business called WPCurve, which was sold to GoDaddy.

With his success, he wrote a book and create tons of resources plus a community for entrepreneurs to support each other.

One of his resources is a financial projection spreadsheet for you to input any costs required to start and build your productized service business with a recurring income.

I wasn’t the only one using this spreadsheet.

Russ Perry of Design Pickle was one of the first productized graphic design company founders to read Dan Norris’ book and use this spreadsheet to generate the pricing of this service.

Russ Perry also generously started an online course teaching others how to do the same with this spreadsheet.

Thanks to both of them and the 7-day Startup community, just by using this spreadsheet, I am able to provide a low cost unlimited graphic design service and still earn a profit.

With this spreadsheet, I was able to generate projections for the year ahead of time in less than a day, without spending years of my time trial and error to find what doesn’t work and what works.

How to price your productized service

Here are the steps to generate the price of your offer and to know what to do to earn a recurring income:

  1. Decide on the profit you’d like to make — I suggest to set a 50% profit margin and adjust from there.
  2. Decide on your pricing model — I went ahead with a subscription-based, unlimited graphic design model. Customers pay a fixed fee each month for as many designs and revisions as they want until they cancel the service.
  3. Decide on how many people you’d like to serve — I’ve chosen to provide an affordable service to go for a bigger volume of the customer base, rather than charging a high price with a small customer base.
  4. Decide how many customers each designer can be assigned with — like freelancing model, each designer will have a batch of customers to serve every day.
  5. Enter the estimated cost of operation — anything that incurs costs to run your business. Such as internet, web and email hosting, hiring, automation tools, taxation, your salary, etc.
  6. Add any income from personal projects — there’s no need to throw out personal customized projects, I’ve used that to help fund your productized business during the early stages.
  7. Run your projections — use your costs, assumptions and profit margin to decide your pricing as seen in the following spreadsheet:
How to price your productized service business

 

A sample estimated projection. Resource originated from 7-Day Startup by Dan Norris

Use this spreadsheet to plug and play your figures until you are satisfied with your annual gross salary. That will lead to the pricing of your offer, revenue and income.

The best thing about this is, you get to know the potential of your earnings way before you start selling.

Is this a magic spreadsheet? No, it all starts with you putting your foot down on selling your service more like products. It is simple math and this spreadsheet helps do this at scale.

Instead of waiting for your clients to tell you what they want, you will be the one discovering the common problem that most clients will have, go to them and tell them you have the solution to that particular problem.

Rather than not knowing when is the next paycheck from a random client, and not knowing how much you will be earning. This is how you know what you are offering, item by item, and put a fixed price tag on each item.

With this, you know what are the exact resources you need to create the solution. You can fit in the costs of these resources like manpower, CRM or design tools. Then generate your profit and loss with the spreadsheet by adjusting your pricing.

Once you have that, you can do the same for today, tomorrow, next month, the next 90 days, next year and beyond.

Pick a name for your productized service business

The name of your productized service business depends on whether you are building new products within your existing business or setting up a brand new business. If you are starting a productized service within your existing business, chances are, you won’t need another company name unless you’d like to create a new brand under the same business. If this productized service is a brand new business you are starting up, you’ll have to come up with a name for it. Your company name is not the most important thing to grow and scale a business successfully. But some aspects of it does affect your branding in the long run. The most important thing is taking action to move your business forward. Hence, don’t spend too much time thinking of the name such that you neglect these areas:
  1. Customer acquisition – bringing in new paying customers
  2. Customer fulfilment – delivering your services to your customers
  Here are some tips to pick a name for your productized service business:
  1. Make sure the words you use can be clearly understood when spoken without different ways to write them. For example, “NineApples” may sound like “9apples”. People will start asking, ‘is it nine or 9?’
  2. Keep your name as short as you can. Shorter names have a higher chance of becoming a more memorable name than longer ones.
  3. If the name you picked does not have an available “.com” domain or social media username, it wouldn’t affect future growth of your business. You can use “.co” or other TLDs (Top-Level Domains) and still grow and scale a great business. Or you can use “.com” and add filler words to your name, example “trydropbox.com”.
  4. There’s no need to pick a name that’s specific to your service. Though being specific helps people to know what you do, keeping it general helps you diversify your service products in future. Do keep it relevant or related to your service.
  5. Research on your list of names and don’t use and of those that have been used and known worldwide.
  6. Don’t overthink the naming of your business, it’s how you run your business and the brand you build along the way that makes your name a great name.
  7. Your business name can be changed later, you don’t have to stick to it forever.

🥷 Step 2: Hire the Right Experts

Now that I know what I want to include in the set menu, I know what kind of expertise to look for in a chef to cook lunch. It’s good enough if this chef can cook what’s on the menu because these are the only thing we offer now.

Understand that there’s so much time in a day and so many customers one chef can handle. Say you set your work hours to nine hours a day. If one chef needs one hour to cook one set lunch, that means one chef can cook for at least eight people a day. In that case, if you have eight customers, you hire one chef.

If you have sixteen customers, you hire two chefs and so on. It can scale!

When should you start hiring

This may sound obvious or commonsensical. But it’s easy to get this part wrong especially if you love doing the technical work or know how to execute the tasks at the operational level really well.

I spent one year of my time “hiring” myself to do all the work when I could have hired someone to help me much earlier. I love doing design work and it’s been my biggest passion since I was a child.

It’s great to have a passion, but it also made me take on all design work when the time should have been channelled to growing the company sooner instead.

Hire right from the start

It’s great to be able to do everything on your own, and I’m sure you are capable of it. I’ve done this for ten years as a freelance graphic designer and I don’t deny that I enjoyed the freedom.

This freedom felt great but that’s not financial freedom or independence. I couldn’t stop working because if I didn’t do the work, I didn’t get any income.

But after doing everything to build this productized business for a year, I realised I should have hired right from the start.

So why didn’t I hire earlier?

Here are some misconceptions I had before eventually making my move to hire my first designer. If you are hesitant to hire help, any of these could be the reason:

1. Risk losing quality and reputation

I used to think that I have to do all the client work on my own, because who could do all of it with the same quality as I do? My clients worked with me because of my talents, strengths, and creativity. If I were to hire someone else to take over my job, the quality may drop and I risked losing my reputation, job, and income.

2. I’m not a manager

Training someone else was also a chore for me. I’ve been hiring and firing a few designers since 2015. I used to take four hours a day to train designers to improve their work. It seemed easier for me to do the work myself! I thought. It’s tough managing people. I just wanted to be the best designer I could be.

3. I’m not a salesperson

In order to grow my business, I had to spread the word, sell my services and use my time to do more promotional work and marketing. But I hated doing sales. It just wasn’t me. I loved putting my head down to create things, not talking to people and trying to persuade them to buy something.

4. I love doing creative work

There’s no way I can grow without outsourcing or hiring someone to take over my work. But I love doing the conceptualizing, researching, sketching and brand strategy for clients. I couldn’t imagine someone else doing this part of the work in my place and showing clients the work that isn’t mine.

5. I don’t want to hire and charge my clients more

Maybe you are cool with hiring designers to help you out. But that would mean you have to charge your clients more to pay your designers what they are worth. I was in this place before and wanted to take home all that my clients were paying me for. They came to me for my affordable rates and great design work. I didn’t wish to risk the relationship by marking up my rates.

6. Hiring means extra costs and I don’t have enough money to pay others

You are just getting started and it seems like hiring will leave you broke and hungry. In my case, every revenue I used to earn from each client went to paying my bills and getting fed. I didn’t hire because I didn’t know where to find the funds to do that and still have enough to pay myself.

Why you should hire help right from the start

In the early days when I was learning from others on ‘the right time to hire’, many so-called experts said that “only hire when you can’t handle all the work anymore”.

I followed this advice, and over the years, I realised this didn’t work for me.

There’s no need to wait to have enough work or customers before hiring help. In fact, it should be the other way around where you have to get help so that your time is freed up to acquire more customers as soon as you can.

When it comes to building successful businesses, customer acquisition is king. You can’t stay in business if you have no customers. And in order to get customers, you have to engage in daily sales and marketing activities.

I used to rely on referrals for customers and spent all my waking time designing artwork for customers. They receive all my best work, but I did not put in time on any sales and marketing activities.

One day, for some reason, my referrals ran dry and my income dropped.

That was when I realised someone has to take over the operations. I could have hired earlier to grow my business sooner.

In other words, as a business owner, you need to block time off to look for customers, not to work on anything else that doesn’t help with bringing in new customers.

Here is the full list of reasons to hire help right from the start:

  1. You can set a standard quality that anyone you hire can follow, rather than relying on only you to deliver it
  2. You are forced to create processes and standard operating procedures for your team to follow, rather than you having to fight the fire on a daily basis
  3. You don’t have to work on the day-to-day tasks, giving you more time in the day to grow your business in terms of customer acquisition, gain market share and revenue
  4. You get more time and energy to check in with your customers to understand their needs and innovate
  5. Hiring sooner leads your business to grow faster, and growing faster sooner helps you gain freedom and remove yourself from your business earlier

How to hire right from the start without going broke

The advantage of starting a business with a productized service is that you know exactly what you will be offering your customer even before meeting them.

No more finding out what they are looking for, no more spending time doing up proposals without returns and no more forking out time and money before getting paid.
With a productized service business, you set the price and get paid before providing the service. This means you know who you need to hire, the costs of hiring and what your first employee need to be working on before a customer comes to you.

Here are the steps to hire your first employee right from the start:

Step 1: List down your day-to-day tasks that delivers what your productized service offers

Here’s mine when I was a solopreneur:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Sales calls
  3. Content and social media marketing
  4. Responding to prospect emails
  5. On board customers
  6. Working on the graphic design tasks for clients
  7. Delivering the work
  8. Project managing all client tasks
  9. Keeping artwork files organized

Step 2: Strike out tasks that only you can do to move your business forward in the early stages

Tasks remaining on the list are those that you will need help first.

Here’s my revised list after striking out the tasks that only I can do at that stage:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Sales calls
  3. Content and social media marketing
  4. Responding to prospect emails
  5. On board customers
  6. Working on the graphic design tasks for customers
  7. Delivering the work
  8. Project managing all client tasks
  9. Keeping artwork files organized

Step 3: Hire part-timers and freelancers first

Next, look at your list, what would you think takes up the most time and yet it’s the minimum item that has to be done to fulfil your customer’s needs?

In my case, it’s working on graphic design tasks, hence I need a graphic designer. Yours could be a service on writing blog posts, you may need a writer.

But there’s no need to hire a full-time designer or writer at this point unless you already have tons of paying customers who need lots of work done everyday.

If you are just getting started with zero customer or less than five, start hiring one part-timer who is willing to help you out say 2 to 4 hours a day, or 2 days a week, etc.

There’s no need to fork out thousands of dollars each month to get help.

You will eventually want to remove yourself from working on the day-to-day tasks, but you can do that in baby steps rather than all at one go.

When I realised I should have hired, I started to look for a graphic designer to help us for just 4 hours a day on a weekly basis.

With these four hours, I took this time to sell the service more and work on the marketing side of business.

As our customer-base started growing with more work, I then hired our first designer for 6 hours a day, then 8 hours a day, and that moved on to hiring another designer for 4 hours a day, and so on.

Step 4: Pick out your main source of funding to pay your employee

Where are you going to get enough money to hire help?

If you have a full-time job at the moment, there’s no hurry to quit right away to start your productized service business. Work on your productized business on the side, taking just 2 hours a day of your time.

If you don’t have a full-time regular paying job, you may be already servicing some freelance or consulting clients. There’s no need to give up working with them.

The salary for your employee can come from either your full-time job or freelance work. Regularly set aside some of these funds as salary for your new employee while you sell your new productized service.

As you grow your customer base, your revenue from your business grows too. You can then move on to increasing your employee’s time with you and hire more help.

How do you hire the right person for your productized service business

You won’t be short of online platforms to hire your first employees and freelancers.

It’s one thing to find the right platform to hire from and it’s another on how to use these platforms to find the right experts.

I’ve been using this method to recruit new graphic designers to join my company. I will list down what I’m doing so you can use this as a reference for your own business.

Step 1: List down what you are looking for in your candidate

In my case of building a graphic design productized service business, I want to hire graphic designers with the following criteria:

  1. Able to execute instructions with a critical eye
  2. Detailed-oriented
  3. Share similar values as the company’s
  4. Possess intermediate graphic design skills
  5. Willing and open to learning new skills

Step 2: Set up the hiring processes that help to filter the right candidates

In this step, you will come up with the stages or rounds you’d like your candidates to go through before you decide if you’d like them to join your team or not.

Here’s an example of the stages all candidates have to go through before joining my team:

Stage 1

Candidates will be given information on the job scope, fees, where they will be working from and expectations. After that, they will be asked to fill up a form for the following items:

  1. Full name
  2. Email
  3. Contact number
  4. Link to a 1-minute introduction video of themselves
  5. Availability
  6. Link to portfolio

You can use Google Form to set this up.

For every application, I will run through their portfolio and video to look for work that matches what we do for our customers.

Stage 2

Those who are shortlisted based on the information they provided will be contacted to take up a paid trial. This trial is 2-hour long that tests the candidate’s work.

Stage 3

A 30-minute interview. You may with to be the one conducting this interview to know more about your future team member. In this interview, I suggest you learn more about the candidate’s values, goals and aims in life and career.

Are they aligned with your company’s values? Do they ask questions that reflect them as helpful individuals, team players and future leaders?

If answers to these questions turned out to be “yes”, you’ll find that they are people you’d like to work with, easier to train and stay loyal to your company.

Stage 4

A 2-week trial of 2 to 4 hours actual work time per day, weekdays only.

After you’ve decided on the stages that you’d like your candidates to go through, combine all information and details you’ve come up with in both Steps 1 and 2.

You don’t need any fancy software for this. Right now I’ve got them on our website landing page. For a start, you can put them together in Google Forms. You can call this a “Hiring Form”.

Having them in one place will help you if you are constantly signing up for online platforms looking for candidates.

Step 3: Make a list of where to find your candidates

List down all the possible platforms, events, and locations you can think of to find your right candidates.

Here are some of the areas I’ve explored to look for the right graphic designers. These are not limited to just looking for graphic designers. You can use these to look for copywriters, marketers, developers, Virtual Assistants, bookkeepers and more:

  1. Recommendations
    • Be as detailed as you can when asking for introductions from your network or friends. I used to ask around for a good graphic designer and the recommended designers I got were either not proficient in some software that we normally use or they were only interested to be freelance designers, not full-time designers whom I was looking for.
    • Share the hiring Google Form that you’ve prepared in Step 2. It should have all the criteria and job scope information they need to know who you are looking to hire. They can then apply for it right away in the Google Form itself.
  2. Facebook groups for:
  3. Online platforms
    • Freeup.net – they do the heavy lifting of interviewing and vetting freelancers for you. Their promise is they only recommend the top 1% of applicants to you. With your job description, they will match you with the qualified candidate within 24 hours. No deposit is required, there’s zero upfront costs and no minimum. You can use their platform to correspond with the candidates and pay for the freelancers’ time either hourly or at a fixed rate.
    • Onlinejobs.ph – this is a marketplace where you recruit virtual workers in the Philippines with no middlemen. They don’t mark up salaries and you pay the salary as quoted by the candidates. There’s no fee involved if you only wish to post a job and see job applications. If you wish to contact the applicants or communicate with them, you will have to upgrade at a monthly fee.
    • PeoplePerHour.com – with the information you provide, they use artificial intelligence to match the best freelancers they have to your needs. The freelancers will reach out to you with their own custom proposal based on the details you provide. You review their proposals, pick the freelancer you want and pay a deposit to get started. You may payment via their system once you are satisfied.

🤑 Step 3: Make Money and Repeat

With a packaged and standard set of food to prepare every day, I’m able to tag my offer with a standard price. Customers will know what they are getting and what they have to pay.

I’m able to solve a recurring problem for customers and in exchange, they pay me on a recurring or subscription basis. In this way, I can sell as many times as I want without burning myself out and help increase income at the same time.

How to serve more customers with great quality but do less and make more money

Create a system of every stage of your business process

In the early days when I first started my business, I did everything on my own. It was tough to do so many things with just 24 hours a day, but it was easier to do them myself rather than to delegate or outsource anything to someone else to help complete those tasks.

The reason is, it seemed easier because my brains, eyes and hands are connected. If I decided that a task is of good enough quality to deliver to the customer, I just send one email to update the customer.

But if I were to outsource the tasks, I have to go through several steps before word reaches the customer:

  1. I have to explain to the operations department what is good quality work
  2. Describe to the project manager what to check
  3. Sound out to the customer service officer what to say to the customer.

“I would do it faster myself!”

Does this sound like you?

Articulating and communicating the various tasks to another person to get things done at high quality can be tedious and draining, especially on a daily basis.

This makes many of us, small business owners think that hiring help or outsourcing is a nightmare.

Truth is, just outsourcing isn’t the end-all solution. Outsourcing is the first step but there’s another piece to the puzzle.

The complete solution is to create a system to connect various departments, brains and expertise together in your productized service business.

How to make a website for your productized service business

What platform should I use to make productized service business website

I used WordPress to create my first productized service business website and it’s still powered by WordPress to this day.

I’ve tried other website builders from Wix, Squarespace to Webflow. They are all great, but I always go back to WordPress because Wix and Squarespace are not flexible enough for further customisations, and Webflow is too advanced for me.

I am willing to learn new platforms and software, but at this stage, building the business is less about web building, designing or how things look.

This is the time when you want to have a decent enough website that can help you clearly communicate your message to your early customers, help them with as much information and content as possible and receive payment.

In other words, you’d want to spend more time spreading the word of your business to prospective customers to acquire customers than on learning how to use a website builder or platform.

Ask yourself, what is the minimal website you need right now to attract your first customer. Then do quick research on the different website builders available to make your minimum viable website. Select the one that cost you the least time and money to learn how to make a website.

Make that website as quick as you can and launch it right away.

What should you include in the website for your productized service business?

  1. Your promise
  2. Customer’s pain point or problem
  3. Social proof
  4. Your solution
  5. Testimonials
  6. How you solve their problem
  7. Benefits and features
  8. Pricing
  9. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
  10. Contact
  11. About you

🏆 Congratulations! You are now a proud owner of a productized service business.

You’ve now officially launched a service business without advanced technical knowledge and huge capital investments. 

It is guaranteed scalable, hence, don’t stop here. Keep on learning how to grow your business with the least resources and time possible. 

As you build upon your business, your efforts will eventually lead you to earn recurring income and financial independence.