How to Leverage Your Skills to Build a Successful Services Business

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Article by: Peter Gatuna

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To succeed in the service industry, it is important to understand that you are the product. This is true whether you are the only one in the business or you have a team working with you. Your service business can only be as good as the people working in it.

As with any other type of company, the startup phase of a service business is the most important. A lot of background work goes into it. You start selling long before you make your first sale during the process of self-mastery and direction.

Build the requisite skills

The first step in achieving any goal is to access what you will need to achieve it. Evaluate yourself and discover what you are naturally good at. You will be more likely to succeed at that. You will always do well at what you are good at.

As you grow, improve on your areas of weakness as well. However, focusing too much on your weaknesses during the starting up period will only make you feel insufficient.  The real question here is “how good are you?” You don’t have to be the best, but you have to be good. And you must get better through learning and experience.

The best way to make it in service industries is to get really good at one thing. Specialize as much as you can. That is how you figure out the market for your skills.

Find your market

Service businesses tend to be highly specialized around a set of skills. Once you have evaluated yourself and mapped out all your marketable skills, you will need to define your market before proceeding any further.

Research skills come in very handy in this step. Basically, what you are trying to do is find the people who would pay you to solve a problem for them. This is where you monetize your skills. But as I mentioned before, you start selling long before you make your first sale. In this step, creating your personal brand is one of the most critical tasks.

Your brand image is the shop where you sell your skills. People will come to you for the unique services that you can offer them. Market differentiation will help you can stand out.

Come up with a business strategy

Another important task in defining your market is coming up with a business strategy. This is a step whereby you identify a gap in the market and come up with a plan to fill it. Your service business can only be as big as the market you serve and you can only be as successful as you set out to be.

So make sure that your business plan captures as much of your vision and mission as possible. In the chaos of running your business for the first few months, you will need this document to give you clarity. Your business plan gives you direction.  

Market yourself and sell your services

In this step, you are supposed to come up with an entry strategy for your business. How are you going to reach out to your customers to sell your services to them? This is one of the trickiest aspects of establishing a service business. But it does not have to be

It does not matter if your customers are other businesses or individuals. You will have to craft an entry strategy beforehand. Your marketing efforts will lead to sales, which will bring your money (profit) and allow you to grow your business.

The first sale

The first sale will probably be the hardest to make. If you are generally unknown, the odds are stacked against you. Most people prefer ‘experienced’ service-givers. But you will also find plenty of people willing to take a chance on you.

However long it takes for you to start making sales, it is important to keep adjusting your market strategy to reflect the realities on the ground. Your business plan will rarely map out 100% of your journey. Even 50% might be too generous. As soon as you start interacting with your target market closely, they will teach you how to sell.

But you have to be looking out for the signals.    

Grow your business

A growth mindset is one of the most important assets to have while starting a service business, especially when you are doing it alone. You cannot separate a service business from the service giver (you), so your attitude matters a lot. The same principle applies to when you ultimately start bringing in more people. It might be years down the line, but you still have to be prepared for it.

In the growth phase, you start operating more and more like a typical business. The only difference here is that your biggest asset is whatever skillset you have as opposed to production facilities. Keep an eye on your growth strategy with a good vision statement that continually reflects your outlook on the market.     

Maintain consistency   

Consistency is the Achilles’ heel of every service business. It starts with how consistent you are as a person. Your idea will probably take you on a wild journey of evaluating your entire identity, even as you create a brand identity for your business.

There is this quote I love by Denzel Washington. “Without commitment, you will never start. But more importantly, without consistency, you will never finish.”

It will not be an easy journey. If it were easy everyone would be living their best life today. Success belongs to those who embrace hardship as a stimulus to progress. Curiously enough, that is all it takes!