Why not defining your service process is costing you money

One of the biggest challenges most of my clients deal with day to day is the sense of not having enough time.

Between networking, writing proposals, providing value to their existing clients, administration and invoicing, they’re already into overtime. So when it comes to marketing and business development, it’s hard for them to see where they could possibly carve out the time.

When I bring up standardizing some of their processes to streamline operations, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard any one of the following responses:

“That simply isn’t possible in my business.”

“This is just the way it is in my industry.”

“Every client is different. Every project is unique. There is no way I could shoehorn them into one process.”

I’m not here to tell you that all of your clients are a homogenous mass. I completely agree that every single client you work with will have a unique set of needs, a unique problem for you to solve.

But here’s the thing. As long as you treat every client, every proposal and every project as unique, you will never truly be able to shift away from trading time for money.

You risk being a me-too freelancer forever at the whim of whatever project comes along - changing your process with the wind. To compound your problems, you will eventually be overtaken by those who have a defined offering and are able to get really good at that one thing by doing it over and over again.

So what’s the alternative? I’m so glad you asked!

First, let me say that I don’t recommend refining your service offering until you have taken the time to understand your audiences and their pain points.

For more on this, check out my post: What is an audience persona and why do I need one?

Since you are now starting to get a true sense of what your audience segments are looking for, where the gaps are in the market and what’s stopping them from buying, you can create streamlined service packages that speak to them, address the unmet needs created by other options on the market and eliminate the sense of risk in trying something new.

Creating a set and repeatable service process will also help you realize the benefits of repeating the same process over and over until you can truly say you’re an expert.

One foot out the door

If the right job came up, would you drop everything including this business you have been nurturing - and say yes?

When you get tired of the hustle, will the lure of a regular salary be enough to pull you away from the clients who trust you, who love to work with you and will surely miss you when you’re gone?

Do you have one foot out the door? Or is what you’re building too precious, too important that no salary is great enough?

What’s your price?

Getting to 'no'

One of the toughest things for anyone in business is saying no to a client. It could be saying no to doing a task a certain way, saying no to a certain timeline or saying no to working with a client at all.

Saying no often means saying no to work, to cash flow. Saying no can sometimes mean hurt feelings. And it’s not always clear when saying no is the right thing to do.

But saying no is also about saying yes. Yes to sticking to your process. Yes to your ideal clients. Yes to maintaining balance - in your business and in your life. Yes to the work that gets you up in the morning.

One way to make saying no easier is to develop a list of client responsibilities in your statement of work. Send it with every proposal. Ensure your client is aware of it even if they don’t take the time to read it. When a project appears to be going off the rails, refer back to this list. It will tell you when saying no is the right thing to do.