6 steps for starting a service business

There are many different types of professional services business, from accounting firms and actuarial services to architects, management consultants, human resources agencies, and travel consultancies.

The core difference between a product-based business and a service-based business depends on whether you offer something tangible. If your offerings revolve around something you do for clients but can’t touch, then you run a service-based business.

Recommended reading: How to start a consulting business

Whichever field you work in, if you have decided that you have what it takes to start a professional service business and carve out a career as the proud owner of your own service small business, you may benefit from the following tried and true business tips for succeeding with your professional services small business.

1. Establish your credentials as quickly as possible

To attract clients to your budding service business, it will help to have a proven track record of delighting clients and delivering results. This can be critical for enticing prospects to do business with your newly minted service business.

In the early days of starting a service business it’s especially important to establish your qualifications, expertise, and thought leadership at all times. This can be the difference between winning clients and being overlooked for a competitor with a portfolio of clients you just don’t have yet. Potential clients will be sizing you up before they decide if they will give you their business, but you can help increase your chances of gaining their business by demonstrating that you are:

  • A well-respected professional with all relevant industry qualifications;
  • Have completed recent training provided by an accredited provider;
  • Have experience working with established and respected businesses or individuals in your industry.
  • You have a proven track record of excellence in your past roles.

One further way to establish your credentials is by reducing your risk through professional service insurance (sometimes referred to as general service based insurance). Whether you’re an expert at balancing the books or the creator of the next big marketing campaign for your clients, as a professional there are a variety of insurance policies you may want to consider for your business. These may include:

  • Professional Indemnity insurance: Protection against losses claimed by a third party due to alleged or actual negligence in your professional services or advice.
  • Public Liability insurance: Protection for you and your business in the event a client, supplier or a member of the public is injured or sustains property damage as a result of your negligent business activities.
  • Business Insurance: An insurance package designed to provide cover for your business contents, stock, tools and commercial premises when an insured event occurs (such as fire, storm, theft or even accidental damage).
  • Cyber Liability insurance: Insurance designed to help protect you from claims and support your profitability in the event of a cyber breach or attack. Costs associated with defending a cyber claim are also covered.

2. Avoid burning bridges

Often times ambitious small business owners in the making work on their business on the side while still holding down their day job. When it comes time to leave your employer and fully commit to your own service small business, it’s important to maintain the good relationship you have with your employer and avoid burning bridges at all costs.

If you leave on good terms, that may even leave the door open for potential collaborations down the track. Give your employer sufficient notice and be polite and professional at all times. Keep in mind that the business you worked for can actually become a future source of referrals for your new services small business. So you don’t want to damage this potential revenue stream.

3. Have a point of difference

Unless you are working in a highly specialised field, you’ll likely have plenty of competition in the market to go up against. As a result, you may benefit from finding ways to stand out. A great way to do just that is to have a point of difference that you consistently promote across all of your marketing on your website, advertisements, social media pages, and corporate brochures.

Think about the problems you can solve for individuals or businesses that no one else can. This is your ‘special sauce’ – the characteristics and traits that define what you do and how you do it. And if there is a particular customer demographic that isn’t being served right now, it could be yours for the taking. Constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to differentiate yourself in the market – because doing so will help you to grow your professional services business quicker and with less difficulty.

4. Become a great networker

Regardless of how introverted or shy you may be, when you start your own business, you will need to get comfortable and confident with putting yourself out there and network – all in the name of growing your service business and your personal brand.

Attend business events, such as conferences, trade shows, and general networking events. The more people you get to know and impress, the higher your chances are that you’ll have clients lining up to hire you.

Thankfully, networking doesn’t have to involve awkward hard-sell situations where you force your business card on people you’ve just met and try to get them to sign up to your business on the spot. Today, networking is simply about meeting new people, fostering connections, developing relationships, and providing value. Identify and get to know the people who may need your professional services in the future and be ready if and when they reach out to you for help and advice.

It’s worth noting that networking is now done both online and offline. It may be well worth your while to maintain an active presence online and embrace the marketing power of social media. If you don’t have one already, create both a personal profile and also a company profile on LinkedIn.

There are also opportunities to advertise your business and the services it provides (and to whom) on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and showcase your industry expertise and thought leadership by sharing tips, informative content, and other relevant information and industry commentary.

5. Know how to budget

Often new entrepreneurs will likely hardly break even during their first year operating their new service business. During the first year of running your own professional services small business it can be difficult to maintain enough cash flow to cover all of your expenses, much less turn a profit. It may take a few years to build a client base large enough to bring in a steady and sustainable level of income. As such, knowing how to create a budget and strictly stick to it can be a very important skill for newly minted service small business owners.

6. Develop joint venture partnerships

Another low-cost way to get your name out there is to develop joint-venture partnerships. Team up with other businesses or individuals who service the same clients that you do, and then refer each other. For example, if you’re an accountant, work with a financial advisor or a specialist corporate lawyer.

Whenever either partner has a client who needs related services, they recommend the other person and provide the client with that person’s contact details. Doing this is not only a win-win for the professional services workers, but also helps customers who don’t want to waste time searching for the right people for the job at hand.

BizCover helps professional services small business owners throughout Australia to reduce the risks to their business via professional service insurance made easy. BizCover customers enjoy our customer-focused approach, which simplifies comparing professional service insurance quotes and purchasing business insurance online in minutes, not hours.
Choose BizCover and get your professional service insurance online fast and get on with your day.

*This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. © 2022 BizCover Pty Limited, all rights reserved. ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769.

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