For ten years, I had been a do-er. As a graphic design freelancer, I’ve always been working on the creative process, the technical side of things, and delivering the work to clients.
I refused to hire anyone to help, because all projects are customized to unique individuals, it’s hard to tell whom I have to hire.
Furthermore, I thought “why should I pay someone else when I can do the work myself and earn more”, “such a hassle to manage and train people”, “I love doing design work and I should only do what I love doing”, and “nobody can create what I’ve been doing, my clients will leave if it wasn’t me doing the work”.
Until I gave birth to my first kid and found it impossible to split myself up to serve my clients well and be the best mother I can be at the same time. I ended up with half a million dollars in debt because nobody would pay me to be a better mum.
My business couldn’t run without me. I realized was the bottleneck in all areas of it, trapped in a hamster wheel, building a prison for myself.
Searching for solutions, I tried to create other tech products, thinking that services can never be scaled. Maybe developing a SAAS (Software As A Service) product is the only way for me to remove myself from my business, scale it while still earning an income from it.
Since I’m equipped with decent coding skills, I thought I could create the next Facebook or Youtube and not have to work forever. After a few failed SAAS startups that included everything under the sun: parenting, food and advertising products, I got slapped by many lessons.
I found out I was wrong about how startups and businesses work. I was wrong that coding is the only skill I needed to find freedom. I was wrong to think that SAAS is the next big thing to create. I was wrong that service businesses cannot scale.
I did some soul-searching and realised it comes down to one thing. I just wanted a business that can scale, something I can create processes and systems that anyone can take over to run it. I didn’t need to create a SAAS or a physical product to remove myself from the day-to-day tasks in the business.
You may be a solo freelancer or consultant trying to accept as many projects as possible to earn more, only to find yourself burned out at the end of every day. This is because you only have 24 hours a day and there’s a limit to the number of clients you can serve in a day.
Your next option is to raise your rates. And this doesn’t work because not many clients are willing to work with you at a higher price, it’s too competitive out there and the business still can’t run without you.
When your high paying client for some reason decides to stop working with you, you are back to square one looking for another client to cover the big loss of income.
If this is you, the solution to any service business is to productize it by offering one price for one set of solutions on a monthly retainer. You can sell as much as you want and hire as many experts as you need with the same set of skills to do and deliver the work.
That helps you earn a recurring income that can increase in time without worrying about not having enough time to do the work.
In 2015, I started a graphic design startup that provides unlimited graphic design services at a monthly fixed rate. Since then, my team has worked on thousands of tasks for customers who’ve stayed with us for years.
In short, here are 6 great reasons why you should productize your service business right now:
Escape trading hours for dollars
Are you working on everything for your clients, from providing free proposals to doing the day-to-day operations?
You are selling your precious time to create other people’s assets leaving less time for yourself.
Yes, selling them gives you instant cash, but you’ll find yourself doing the same thing all over again for a different client after the project is closed.
You get money with less time for yourself.
With a productized service business, your deliverables are fixed. You know exactly what you are going to offer your clients.
Instead of using your time to work on client assets, you can use automation or hire someone to help you with these fixed items.
You then use your time to grow and scale your business.
Let the business run without you
There are times when you fall sick, need to take time off to be with your kids or elderly parents.
There are also times when you want a break, holiday or just some me-time to relieve stress and relax.
You can’t just stop working and still serve your customers as well as before. In this case, you may have to inform your customers that you will be away and don’t have capacity to help them.
This is a risk to you losing them in the long run.
With a productized service, you can set boundaries, processes and systems for things to run as if you are doing it all when you are not around.
Business goes on as usual.
Predictable recurring income
With a productized service business, you can set a fixed price for your fixed deliverables.
This means you know how many customers you need in a time frame, such as a month, to earn a certain amount of money.
Rather than like before when you aren’t sure of your capacity, you may not wish to take on too many clients in case you don’t have enough help to complete their work on time.
This makes you unsure of what you may earn in future.
If you have a productized service, you can set up packages on a subscription basis and your customers will pay you regularly for the services you deliver.
In other words, your services will be on a retainer basis and as long as your customers are signed up, you know the income you will earn every time.
Remove limitations on your earning potential
The sky is the limit when you are running a productized service business.
As long as you know you are able to hire help to support your customers, you can earn as much as you are acquiring customers.
With your processes in place, make sure that anyone who joins your team has proper documentation to refer to.
With your team members knowing what to do is key for you to keep your productized service business to help you earn as much as you want.
Since your deliverables and pricing can be fixed without needing you to be present all the time, you can work with as many customers as you want by hiring more help when the need arises.
No back and forth haggling with quotes
Have you lost your chance of winning clients because your quotes were too steep?
Worst of all, you just spent hours negotiating with your customers over your pricing to find that they went for some other service providers.
With a productized service model, there’s no need to haggle over quotes. You set the price and value of the items you are offering.
Your customers take it or leave it and you have to stay firm on your offer.
No scope creep
“Just one more small change”
And what do we do when our customers just want a small change after the final version has been confirmed? We make the change!
That’s because we are afraid of losing the opportunity to work with them again.
This way of working is training customers to carry on doing the same thing to you and to other service providers.
With productized service business, they get a set number of deliverables or fixed timing.
Anything after that, they will have to renew their membership or subscription to receive the same treatment again.