Ever wish you had been told something right off the beginning before you even start? You know… like that time out hiking with your bestie who is an avid hiker that says “it’s just up the hill and around the corner”. But in reality, the beautiful mountain peak is actually another 5 km up the mountain. The same goes for starting your business as a service provider. There are numerous things I wish I was told at the beginning, so I am here to help you and save you a crap tonne of time. You can thank me later because these tips will truly set you up for success.
First… you DO NOT need to be certified or have paid thousands of dollars for a course
Yup, I said it. Now don’t get me wrong I am a person that truly believes if you invest in yourself and your business you will reap the rewards tenfold. But, I also know when starting a business funds may be tight, or maybe you lost your 9 to 5 and are looking to save as much money as you can. Most of us have been there, and personally, I didn’t start investing in myself and my business substantially until about 2 years in.
Use free resources and training when starting out! You can legit learn just about anything on YouTube.
We live in a world that gives us access to the internet and tonnes of free resources and training like:
- Blog Posts
- Social Media
These are just a handful of places where you can find free training and for so many things. YouTube became my BFF when I started my web design business for designing and coding on WordPress self-hosted websites. I spent hours watching YouTube and applying what I learned.
My top tip for staying organized with free training and resources is to start a google sheet with the title of the training, and a spot for the link to the YouTube video. This way you have a working document to reference later on down the road. When it comes to tech we most likely will have to revisit the training again unless it is something we are doing over, and over, and over again.
Use a CRM off the get-go! It will save you so much time, and your time is invaluable
At the beginning of your service provider business journey I get that you are trying to save costs but… having a platform to send contracts, invoices, tasks, and communication is an absolute must. For one, it really helps make you stand out and give that professional vibe off the get-go.
My favorite CRM is Dubsado, the reason being is it’s fully brandable and the features will grow with you as you grow your business. You can check out Dubsado here and it’s even free for your first 3 clients, so what are you waiting for its no risk and free.
If you have any questions about Dubsado you can join my Facebook Community and post all your questions and I’ll gladly help you out.
Start building an email list from the beginning!
Social media is amazing but there is ONE BIG DOWNFALL…. You Do Not Own It. Now, this is scary as heck because what would happen tomorrow if your Facebook, IG, Twitter, or even TikTok account got shut down. Now unless you were funneling people to join your email list, or manually keeping track of all your leads, you could be royally screwed. Also… when selling in emails has a much higher conversion rather than posting a selling post on social. People expect to be sold more by email than on Social.
Since we are trying to keep costs down I’ll put my recommendations for email service providers and their starting price points below:
- MailerLite (free plan then paid plan at $10/month)
- ConvertKit (free plan then paid plan starts at $15/month)
- Mailchimp (free plan, but their paid plans are expensive, not my favorite)
- ActiveCampaign (has a free 30-day trial, no free plan but affordable options)
There are so many email service providers that will allow you to do email marketing. I suggest you determine what your tech stack is first to ensure it integrates. So if you have a website you may want it to integrate directly. Always check the integrations.
Have a website with your business name as the domain.
Yes, a website is an investment, but there are so many other people out in the world most likely doing the same service that you do and as an Online Business Manager who hires for my clients, we always check their website, and honestly most of the hires we have brought on all had a website. It gives you that professionalism.
Another key point to go along with having a website and a domain is to have a domain email address. Having an email@example.com really does not show professionalism.
Now you can build your website yourself on WordPress self-hosted platform and hosting is cheap. Like I’m talking as low as $3-5/month to start. That’s insanely cheap. Yes, WordPress self-hosted is more of a learning curve, but again there are tutorials and tonnes of free themes that are beautifully made.
Squarespace would be my second choice to create a website. They are not as cheap but the learning curve is way less and you could have a website up and running in a Day.
Again, if you have questions about websites and design please join my Facebook Community and I’ll gladly answer as much as I can. I want you to succeed in your service-provider business.
Document your processes from the beginning and create SOPs
Standard Operating Procedures may not be on the top of your list but let me tell you… All it takes is one happy client and things can skyrocket. They may skyrocket so fast because you are amazing at what you do that you have a full client roster. You may need to bring on help.
Now if you need to hire a Virtual Assistant to help out and you have your procedures documented then it will spare so much of your time onboarding and training.
Creating SOPs may sound scary but they can be simple. You can write them in a google doc as well as provide a screen recording of the task so that you can provide both written and video instructions.
Do you need a basic SOP template? I got you! You can grab the SOP template that I personally use and as well use it with my clients. There is even a mini-training on how to build SOPS. It’s easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Organize your email inbox off the get-go and create folders/labels
This was one that I neglected for so long. Rather than dealing with a crazy ass inbox, I would simply create a new email on my hosting account. Big Bad Mistake, trust me on this one and just organize it off the beginning.
What I do with my email accounts now is:
- I have an email address specifically for clients and potential clients. This email address is the same one that is linked to my CRM.
- Create folders/labels for each client. This way you keep everything organized.
- Create filters to automatically put emails where they should go. When I do this I choose to filter and mark unread. I check my email numerous times throughout the day.
- Do Not use your main email address for signing up for freebies, courses, webinars etc. Have a specific email for these. You really don’t want a chaotic email inbox.
Another thing that I always recommend is to create an email signature. Now you can simply create a graphic in Canva to do this, or you can even use an email signature generator with gives you a code snippet that you place in the signature spot of your email host. You may be using Gsuite or outlook or even apply mail.
Time block on your Calendar and keep specific days for client calls!
As your business grows you may have to add a couple of days of the week for client calls. Calls can be exhausting and have lots of information overload. I like to keep my client calls within 2 or 3 days max during the week. Then this gives me enough time to have solid working days.
Time block on your calendar when you will work on certain client tasks, personal, etc. This will help you stay focused on the tasks that you are doing for a specific client. Now I get it… sometimes we fall off this and are multitasking bouncing between tasks for clients. This can become exhausting for your mind and I find if I can have 1 hr blocks for specific clients it makes things way more productive.
Set boundaries at the beginning and make sure they are in your contract.
This one is SO IMPORTANT! Not having boundaries set in place from the beginning and following them can cause issues down the road.
Think of Jessica your first client who you really wanted to impress and wow, so you answered her emails asap, responded in slack right away, and we’re always there to do a task. Now you have 5 clients at the same time and since you didn’t set up boundaries from the beginning you are answering messages on messenger, slack, emails, and other communication outlets. Now they may expect you to respond right away, and if you don’t because they are so used to it, they may be feeling discouraged or worried.
I am still working on this because I am a server, and I love to serve and make my clients feel at ease. Now I will say none of my clients currently expect this and they are all amazing, it’s a me thing.
So set yourself working hours that you are available, and let them know turnaround time, email response time, etc right off the get-go. If it gets done a bit sooner, then perfect.
Things I wish I knew starting out wrap up!
Yay! You made it this far and I hope this article helps you overcome some things off the get-go in your service-provider business.
You may be just starting your business and are feeling overwhelmed. I get it, I’ve been there, we all have been there. The most important thing is to take action and little steps each day towards your goals.
Find yourself an awesome community to join where you can ask questions, get feedback and chat with other service providers that are a couple of steps ahead of where you are. It’s okay to ask questions. This is how we learn. If you are looking for a safe space to ask questions please join my Women Growing Their Business Facebook Community. I’d love to help you out and get you rolling in your business.
Leave me a comment below and let me know all about your service-provider business. I can’t wait to hear all about it!