Do you find yourself working all hours in your consultancy and not getting enough time for yourself? Are you investing half of your spare time into making your consultancy stand out rather than enjoying it with your friends and family? Is everything in your business demanding your time, meaning you rarely get time for yourself? If you’re fed up with your clients, team and business constantly demanding your time, in this post, I’m going to show you how you can overcome these challenges for good.
Why you are constantly struggling for time
Most of the consultancies I speak with don't think they can productise their expertise because all their clients are so different.
I thought exactly the same too.
I also thought that it was easier to price by the time we took because it’s difficult to price by the results we deliver, especially when they take time to come through. I thought productising a service was really difficult and spent all my time building complicated processes and systems to manage them.
I was frustrated because I was investing nearly all my spare time into my agency. In addition, my inbox was constantly full of questions from clients; my team and my suppliers all needed my time and expertise.
Any spare time that I had, I was investing in marketing, creating quotes and chasing prospects. I was missing time with my kids, my wife and my friends. It was a rare treat to do anything that I enjoyed outside of work. However, I found that I was valuing my time by the hour and found myself asking, could I really afford to take time out when I could be earning £100 plus for every hour?
Rather than creating the freedom I wanted from my business, I had created a trap! It was time to make a change.
The route to freedom from your business through productisation
If some of my story resonates with you, I want you to know that productising my consultancy was the answer I had been looking for over the years. I worked on it for years before I cracked the code, but I’m going to share with you what I’ve learnt, so you don’t have to take that long.
The first insight I had was the 80:20 or Pareto principle. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, and like you, I wanted to see how it applied to my consultancy.
I identified that 20% of my clients were massively outperforming the rest, and I wanted to understand what they were doing differently. The most significant difference was that they were laser focussed on their ideal customers. They weren’t trying to please everyone; they just wanted to serve their ideal customers.
The second thing that I learned from analysing them and my own business was that 80% of their profits came from 20% of what they sold, which was the same for our consultancy. These services all had well-defined outcomes and were the easiest for customers to buy.
They were also selling premium services that were much more expensive than many of their competitors, and their customers were delighted to pay those prices because they are experts at what they do.
These lessons helped me in my journey to productising what we offer.
How to create products from your services
Spoiler alert: It doesn’t need to be complicated. You only need three things to transform a service into a product:
- A name
- A consistent price
- A defined outcome
Don’t get hung up on creating complicated processes and systems. Start by making sure you have the three elements I’ve shared above. When you have those in place, you can then test your product in the market. If you can sell it consistently, it’s time to go to town on building the processes and systems to deliver it at scale.
The most important place to start with your audience. Who is your ideal client, where are they now, and where are you taking them.
Look at the outcomes you deliver for your ideal clients. Which of your services deliver a consistent outcome repeatedly. I recommend that you start with these services in your journey to productisation. Identify the smallest one that you can realistically start with, then ask yourself:
- What is the outcome this delivers?
- What is the value of this outcome for my ideal client?
- What is that value worth to them?
- How much would they be happy to pay to realise that value?
When you’ve answered those questions, you will have your product name, price and defined outcome. It’s now time to start testing your product in the market.
What is going to get in your way of productising?
1) Diving into the detail too early
You’ll probably find yourself thinking that the product isn’t ready to start testing. Don’t worry, that’s natural; I felt the same. I spent months developing products backed up with in-depth processes and systems that I thought my clients needed. The trouble is that they didn’t sell.
Finally, I learnt to let go. I identified the problems my clients were facing, identified the outcome my team could consistently deliver and then went through the steps outlined above.
Instead of spending weeks and months developing a new product, I addressed the three critical elements, and then I took it to the market. First, did my clients want to buy it? If they did then, I could invest more and take it to completely cold contacts. Second, did they want to buy it too? If they did, I had an actual product to take to market. That was the time to invest in the infrastructure to deliver it at scale.
That’s the beauty of productising a service; you don’t need to develop a physical product. So you can start simply.
2) Your expertise keeps getting in the way
The next challenge you’ll find is that your experience keeps telling you that all your clients are different and need different solutions. That’s the fallacy of your expertise kicking in. You’re the expert with extensive time and experience; how can the solution be delivered more simply. I found myself in that same situation too.
When you take a deep look at the complex solutions that you provide and break them down into smaller steps, you’ll start to see that some of the steps are the same across all of the clients you deliver them for.
These are the perfect places to start looking for the products that you can deliver. Remember that you want to be identifying the outcomes these steps deliver, not the steps themselves. Your clients will be happy to pay a lot more for a guaranteed outcome than they will for a set of steps.
3) Cash flow stops your flow
Probably the biggest question you’ll have in your head is how you’re going to afford to make this transition. Can you afford to take the risk when you need your current income from your clients and services?
Again this is all about starting small. You don’t need to pivot your consultancy to being completely productised overnight. Instead, start with a small service and well-defined outcome for your ideal audience and test selling that first. When it works, build it up to replace your current least profitable service so that you can drop it. Repeat that a few times, and before long, you’ll have replaced your current income with a much more straightforward to sell and deliver products, which will mean you can scale your consultancy without sacrificing any more of your life.
Your more valuable future
I’m sure that in the future, you’re going to want to sell your consultancy and make an amount that will reward you for all the time and effort you’ve invested in it so far.
When you productise your consultancy, you will make it significantly more valuable because it is no longer dependent on you. You’ll have a business that you can scale, is worth a lot more and gives you the freedom to enjoy your free time away from it. Whether you want to sell it or not, you’ll be free to invest your expertise where you can create the most value and solve the most significant problems.
Here’s to scaling your consultancy. I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn to discuss it further. You can find me here: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/stephenbavister
Want a proven system to scale your consultancy?
Scaling the output of an owner-managed consultancy is tough. There's no doubt about it.
For the owner, scaling the consultany often entailes years of:
- Creating products/services that don't sell, or can't scale without their expertise.
- Managing a team that is constantly demanding their time in order for projects to be completed.
- Trying and failing to leverage digital marketing to create predictable, high quality leads.
In total, Stephen (LexisClick's Founder) has spent 12 years and over £250,000 to find a repeatable system that worked to scale his owner-managed consultancy.
You could say he knows the pain of scaling a small consultancy...😅
Unfortunately, almost all owner-managed consultants will face these issues when scaling. It's just the nature of the beast.
However, it doesn't mean you can't solve them faster and cheaper.
Join Stephen on a live webinar this Wednesday where he'll be sharing his story, challenges and solutions to scaling an owner-managed consultancy.