Do you want to start expanding your business to attract more clients? There are so many things to consider first to make sure your business doesn’t fall through in the process! In this article, I’ll show you exactly how to scale a professional services business in a proper and sustainable way!
Biggest problem when scaling a business
One of the biggest problems with professional services businesses is that we end up getting into a paradigm where we’re exchanging time and effort for money.
Now, that can be great in the beginning. It was for me. When I first went into business for myself and I was immediately able to generate revenues. That’s one of the benefits of it.
But within a couple of years, it was exhausting. And it may have this experience yourself because we end up having to sell more time to make more money generally. Or we have to raise our prices.
Most of the time in professional services (especially if we’re charging hourly or by the project or session), there’s kind of a limit to how much we can charge, right? There are some people, there are some outliers that can charge way more than the average person.
But by and large, there’s an upper limit of how much you can charge and there’s an upper limit of how much time you have.
So, when you have that issue in professional services where you are the constraint, where you are the one providing the services (or even if you have a team providing it), there are these upper limits.
So, you’ll want to look at ways to scale that monetize something other than your time or your effort. We’ll talk about that.
And what I’ve done is that I’ve put together these 7 steps that I wish I’d known from the outset. I learned these steps the hard way. And I went through all the steps but was kind of out of order. And what I’ve recognized is that this order actually matters.
How to start building your professional services business
So, what I’m going to share with you at the moment, it’s called my Superstar Business Building Framework. And there are 7 steps. And the order of them matters. Now, I’m going to draw it out as a pyramid.
The reason it’s a pyramid is that we start with our foundation upon which everything else is built. And once we get to the top of doing all this, it becomes very powerful.
Imagine it like sending out beacons of light through that top. It’s like all the pressure builds until it explodes out the top and it sends out impact and contribution and wonderful things to the world.
So, we’ll start here with the foundation and that is personal alignment.
1. Personal Alignment
Personal alignment Means that we’re gonna build the business on top of who you really are, what you really love to do, what you’re best at, what your magic is.
A lot of times we build a business around who we think we should be or what people tell us to do or what the market wants.
And what I’ve learned the hard way is that we want to start from within – who am I really? What are my talents? What are my passions? What do I believe in? What matters to me? What’s my purpose? These are all the questions that I invite you to ask yourself first.
So, personal alignment first. This is all about who you are, what you believe in, and what you want out of your life.
2. Envision your dream lifestyle
The second step is to look at the lifestyle you want to live. Meaning, how do I want to organize my life? How do I want my life to look?
There are 3 core areas for lifestyle. This is time, money, and people.
How do I want to spend my time? What do I want to be doing day in and day out? How much money do I want to make? What do I need and what’s my dream amount? And really getting intentional and clear about what that is and how much is enough? And then finally, who do I want to spend my time with?
3. Develop your business model
Once we have clarity about the lifestyle, then we can start to look at what’s the model of professional services that make the most sense for where I want to go that aligns with this vision, that aligns with who I really am?
Now, a model can be time for money, selling hours, selling project work, right? That’s one type of model. But there are so many other models out there that are interesting. Especially as a professional with expertise.
You can turn your professional expertise into a course. You can turn it into information products. You can turn it into a membership or a subscription where you deliver certain products or services in a more automated way.
So, there are lots of other models out there. You want to think about the model that aligns with your lifestyle and with your personality.
4. Create your brand for your business
The fourth thing to look at is your brand. Now, branding is hugely important for any business but especially for a professional services business. And especially to scale one. Because your brand is what represents you out in the world.
Now, without a solid brand, generally, you have to do a lot more activity to land business. And that can be really exhausting. At least it was for me.
But when you build a brand, in particular, when you build a brand of thought leadership where you’re bringing your expertise to the world through blogging, through podcasting, through speaking, through books, through all of these ways that represent you in the world, what you’ll find is generally you have to do a lot less marketing and clients start to flow to you.
So, branding is that expression of your personality and your business in the world. And it’s like a butterfly garden that attracts butterflies.
5. Market your professional services
Now, the fifth thing to look at, I mentioned earlier is marketing. Marketing is very closely related to branding. But I distinguish them because marketing requires constant and continuous activity.
Marketing is the continuous dissemination of your brand out in the world. So, this can come from (say) podcasting or broadcasting, right? Like these YouTube videos are a marketing strategy for me. This is how I find or how I let other people find me and come to me.
So, your marketing also, you want it to be aligned with who you are.
You don’t want marketing to be something that you hate doing. That you resist or that you resent. And that’s one of the biggest problems I see with professional services businesses which is that they hate the marketing that they quote have to do, that they’re forced to do.
So, I invite you to consider what kind of marketing would be joyful and energy-rich on an ongoing basis? What would you love to do? What would be easy?
6. Optimize your sales to scale your professional services business
Next, of course, we can’t have a successful professional services business without sales.
Now, early on in the professional services business, you might be doing a lot of the sales yourself to scale your business. You might be writing a ton of proposals. This was really not fun for me. And for most of the people that I know in these types of businesses, not fun for them either.
So, you want to look at how can you create sales in a more scalable way, how can you streamline sales. If it is fundamental and necessary for you to do the sales then how can you make it easy to put really good sales calls on your calendar? This is one of the big things that right now I’m figuring out.
With the rise of my YouTube channel and the increased volume of opportunities and leads coming in, how can I streamline those so that I’m getting the right fit people onto my calendar, right?
So, creating a system or a process for sales is really important. And that leads us to number 7 which is scale.
7. Scale your professional services business
The scale is the operational piece. It’s the operations and the systems and the processes to support all of this. And really, in my opinion, to support this in order on the way down like first optimizing sales.
Because that’s the most important thing. You don’t want to lose or have leaks in the process when it comes to sales. Optimizing marketing optimizing the brand. Like scaling the operation so that you can deliver more value to your clients.
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