If you’re running a small service business, you’ve probably already run into the #1 problem small service business owners face: how to grow your business when you’re busy running it. Here are some strategies to scale a service-based business that might help.
1: Specialize, or Serve One Market Really Well
The #1 mistake many small service business owners make is trying to do too many things early on. That means you’re not spending enough time or money on any of them, so they have no way to succeed. Serving one market segment really well is one great way to grow your business at first. That’s because you’re not spreading yourself too thin trying to be everything to everyone and can serve one type of client really well. Also, you’ll get better at what you do if you learn to do a good job in one area.
Often, this is just a first step in growing a small service business, but many service business owners find that once they meet that ideal group of clients, they’re happy not to keep scaling their business out to multiple market segments but to grow where they’re at, and that’s okay. Know yourself as a business owner and what feels like a good fit.
If you’re working in one market and serve it really well, you’ll also get more referrals, and it will give you experience learning the laws of your market and where the best opportunities are to expand in a way that suits your business.
2: Serve Multiple Market Segments (still really well)
Does your small service business work with multiple types of customers or multiple business models? Maybe you work as a chiropractor or naturopath and you happen to work with clients but also sell a product or service to other providers. Figuring out how to serve multiple market segments or work with multiple streams of revenue can be tricky.
Here’s the key: find the overlap where it benefits you and your clients that you’re working with both. Maybe the partnerships you make with other providers can help your clients when they need outside referrals. Maybe what you learn working with individual clients gives you an edge of expertise on the other side of your business. Maybe one stream of revenue you bring in supports growth on the side of your business that helps you serve more clients. That can help you save time in growing your business by giving you more experience or partnerships that can create more opportunity.
You can learn more about how to grow a service business that’s dual facing by also reading up on how to pursue a dual purpose business strategy.
3: Productize Your Small Business Services
Here’s one area that small service business owners can overlook until they run into the problem: efficiency is also at play here. Instead of creating custom bids for each customer, productize your services by creating package deals or tiers for your services they can choose from.
This also helps you save time on educating your customers about what the options are that you offer. Package deals can look like volume discounts, or they can look like different services you offer in a package. For example, if you’re a janitorial service or a consulting firm, maybe instead of custom bids after a free consultation, you could post on your website that you offer Tier 1: service type 1 for this length of time. Tier 2: a different type of service for a certain length of time or a certain quantity of service.
4: Work With Other Small Service Businesses
One of the best ways to grow a small service business is to form partnerships with other providers. You want to look for partners whose values and goals are aligned with yours, but whose services are slightly different so you help each other rather than competing.
You can also work with your clients or colleagues to partner through loyalty programs, networking, or trading services.
Here’s where people get a little off track when hiring for a service business: when it’s time to grow by hiring people to work for you, make sure you’re hiring people to represent your brand well. Hiring employees or contractors who do a great job just like you do and have industry expertise, professional manners, and responsible work habits are just the beginning. Working with others is also a branding issue. Do the people you partner with or hire represent the brand you’re building when it comes to values, tone, personality, and effectiveness? If you can find people who represent the brand you’re building, you’re solidly on track to scale your service business.