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One of the biggest problems you face as a solo-entrepreneur is the income-ceiling. Because you sell a 1:1 service, your income is limited by the number of clients you can serve on a 1:1 basis in any given week.
How do you break free of that income ceiling and SUSTAINABLY grow your service business? It’s not only a matter of “hiring help.” Maintaining the great service quality you are known for – while serving more and more clients — is really hard.
In fact, one of the key reasons the venture capital community has ignored service-based businesses is because scaling quality of delivery is much harder to maintain in a service-based business than it is in a Saas, tech or product-based company.
Does that mean the millions of solo-entrepreneurs just like YOU (who account of 81% of all businesses, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration), should just settle for a limited income?
Here are 7 ways to grow your 1:1 service business bigger than you.
1. Document your time use in detail.
The first step in scaling your service-based business is to amplify your personal productivity. To do this, you need to carefully audit your time. Make a list of all the things you do and think about in your business. I mean ALL the things – from scheduling appointments to emails, to doing your social media, to delivering your service to following up with clients.
Once you have your list of activities, highlight the tasks that you do that generate the absolute most INCOME for your business. (You’d be surprised what some of these high-value tasks actually are!)
Then highlight the simplest tasks that could be delegated cost-effectively.
For more on prioritizing tasks, get my free checklist:
2. Hire in the correct order.
Saas coach Dan Martell has pointed out a big mistake founders make when hiring – they hire for company capacity versus hiring for founder capacity.
Example: let’s say you run a PR firm. Your genius is coming up with story angles and pitching media. But each client requires not only your genius at pitching – they require a lot of detailed service – scheduling, follow-up, basic email support, timely invoicing, etc. These administrative “extras” can take HOURS of your time.
If you hire for company capacity, you’d hire another PR specialist to help you take on more client work. The challenge with this approach is that you have now doubled the amount of administrative extras you are responsible for! When this happens, more clients = more headaches. And if growth adds more headaches…you won’t pursue it.
But if you hire FIRST for founder capacity, you’d hire a strong executive assistant to take on the administrative extras – freeing YOU up to take on more clients with a truly open heart.
3. Study and document your methodology.
You started your business because you are great at your craft. Over time, you have become so amazing at your craft, you have “unconscious competence.” You are so good you don’t even have to think about it anymore.
(Kind of like how you can drive to the grocery store without having to “think” about the fact that you’re driving.”)
If you want to scale your company bigger than you, you will need to go from being someone who can “deliver the service” to someone who can “break down the steps in delivering the service and teach those steps to others.”
This means you move from “unconscious competence” (i.e. I’m so good at driving I lose track of the fact that I’m driving) to “conscious competence” (Step 1 – Step on the brake and turn the key in the ignition. Step 2 – shift the gear to Drive, etc.)
Breaking down your methodology is one of the most important but overlooked AND underestimated aspects of scaling beyond 1:1.
To learn more about how to scale beyond you, check out my Ultimate Guide to Scaling a Service-Based Business.
4. Create an online course or group program.
Once you’ve documented your methodology, you can turn that methodology into a learning program that can serve many people at once.
Online learning is exploding – according to research shared by the World Economic Forum, the global market for online education will rise from $144 billion USD in 2019 to $350 billion USD in 2025.
If you have a desire to teach what you know, creating a group program is a fantastic way to do that. Just beware of the big mistake founders like you often make when creating online programs – creating low-priced courses when you don’t have the audience to support that business model. A smarter strategy is to re-think your business model and start with a higher-priced group offer.
There’s a powerful opportunity for solo entrepreneurs to turn their technical knowledge, into online learning programs.
5. Record yourself coaching your team members.
In addition to creating group programs, you can turn your methodology into internal training programs that train your team members to deliver the same quality of results YOU deliver. This is especially important if you want to continue to include 1:1 services in your business – AND you want others to deliver those 1:1 services.
Again – this is very hard to do – which is why service businesses are often (wrongly!) deemed “unscalable.” In our experience, you can absolutely scale yourself if you are willing to invest the time to train your team.
It doesn’t have to be fancy! When you are coaching team members or training them on HOW you want them to deliver the service, record that coaching session. You can include it in onboarding material, or even in a train the trainer manual.
For more on how to make the tactical changes to get on the path to 7-figure growth, check out episode 449 of Power + Presence + Position.
6. Create a “repulsion” process.
Service-based businesses scale BEST when you work with perfect-fit clients. It’s common for service-based business owners to spend huge amounts of time dealing with headaches from poor-fit clients. If you want to scale, you need to develop a clear system for gently and kindly repelling prospects who aren’t a fit BEFORE they become a client.
For example, you might find that “mental toughness” is a characteristic shared by your top clients. An effective “repulsion” system would see you reenforcing the value of mental toughness throughout your website, marketing content, and sales process. This would in turn allow people who are turned off by the concept of “mental toughness” to opt-out of your world before they become a customer. Both you and the poor-fit prospect are much better served when you have a thoughtful repulsion system!
While it’s scary to think of turning people away – there’s a LOT to be gained from NOT working with clients who aren’t a fit. Poor fit clients drain time, resources, and energy. Great fit clients GIVE you energy. Which one will help you scale your business with more joy and profit? You got it. GREAT FIT CLIENTS.
Creating a repulsion process is one of the most powerful assets you can do to scale your business. I’ll be including an in-depth teaching segment on this overlooked asset in this free upcoming workshop.
7. Embrace “Asset Thinking.”
You’ve heard the adage – what got you here won’t get you there.
Scaling your service business beyond YOU isn’t just about doing things differently. It’s about thinking and leading differently.
One key mental shift to make is to develop the practice of asking yourself this question, anytime you take on a task:
Is this task creating long-term value for my company, or is it creating short-term value?
For example, taking on a 1:1 project, creates short-term value – you do the work, get paid, then you need to find your next client.
Documenting your methodology creates long-term AND short-term value. Documenting your methodology helps you be more systematic in your approach to working with your clients today. But it also allows you to turn your knowledge into a learning program. It also allows you a clear system to use to train other team members to do what you do.
In conclusion, the key to scaling your service-based business is to replace your HUSTLE with ASSETS that generate long-term value for your business. If you’re ready to sustainably and thoughtfully scale your business bigger than you, then I invite you to join me for this free workshop on the secret to building a quality 7-figure business.