In 2020, there were an estimated 31.7 million small businesses in the US, many of which were professional service providers like accountants, marketing professionals, personal coaches, therapists, lawyers, and more. What’s exciting about this figure is that despite the pandemic, or maybe because of it, 2020 saw an incredible increase of roughly 1 million new businesses over the previous year. And it’s looking as though 2021 could be another banner year.
This is great news in that America’s entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. However, statistically speaking, it also means more people will fail in 2021 as well. Roughly 20% of all new businesses fail within the first year or so. However, the good news is that your business doesn’t have to be one of them.
Traditional brick-and-mortar businesses like restaurants and gas stations have their own competitive nuances to consider. But for professional service providers like accountants, lawyers, therapists, coaches and others, another degree or internship completed means another potential competitor. And depending on how you perceive the world, there is either enough business for everyone or there isn’t. For those that need some insurance against the competition, here are a few things you can do to set your professional services practice up for success today.
We’ve all heard the words, “location, location, location!” This was once the critical component for any business wanting to succeed. Law firms needed to be near courthouses or a city’s financial hub, therapists had to have offices near hospitals and tech marketers absolutely had to live in the Silicon Valley. But that just isn’t the case anymore.
As marketing industry veteran James Hill puts it, “when I started my career I had no choice but to live in California’s Bay Area. If you were in tech at the time you had to be there. And I was in tech.”
According to Hill, this turned out to be a recipe for disaster!
“Although this all seemed normal at the time, it was a no-win situation for marketing firms — especially boutique firms,” added Hill. “After you take into account insanely high real estate prices, higher than average salary requirements and the turnover associated with tech work, most firms were lucky if they could keep the lights on at the end of the day. So there is no good reason why any firm should be running their business this way today.”
More professional service providers like Hill are turning their brick-and-mortar pasts into virtual futures. Legacy systems like Webex by Cisco offer a partial solution. However, all-in-one platforms like Profi are learning that professional service providers need more than just video and collaboration tools to help streamline their businesses.
“One of the most important aspects of servicing clients is making it easy for them to work with you,” said Alina Trigubenko founder and CEO of Profi. “As professional service providers ourselves, we designed Profi so that we would personally have all the tools needed to connect and transact business in the simplest, most productive way possible. That meant creating a platform that features smart automations, intuitive workflows and flexible integrations that both ensure efficiency and an amazing user experience.”
Launched earlier this year, Profi provides turnkey, holistic tools and workflow automations that help busy professionals increase client engagement, manage teams and services, provide customized and traceable client experiences, securely collaborate, manage and automate payments, and much more.
The platform is flexible and can scale as an organization’s business grows. The end result is a solution that helps busy professionals automate cumbersome admin tasks, allowing them to focus more on providing services and growing their businesses. All that is required of professionals is a willingness to show up for their service delivery (session, appointment, etc), Profi handles the rest.
One of the most important things professional service providers should do is to productize their services. Everything from creating e-courses to hosting learning communities and seminars is a step in the right direction. And as more and more professional service providers do so, customers are coming to expect such offerings, and, in some cases, to prefer them. As a result, products are not only necessary for professional services businesses to scale, they are also an increasingly important part of the service delivery mix.
“A great way for professional service organizations to differentiate themselves within their respective markets is to productize their service offerings,” says business development consultant Brian Fitzgerald. “Instead of creating a custom solution for each and every client, businesses should develop some standard packages. This not only saves time and money, but it helps standardize your operations as well.”
Successful businesses will evolve from selling one-off services to selling services that can be accessed by more than one client at a time. For example, productizing your knowledge and creating online courses might be a good source of additional revenue. This will help you enter another segment of the market: people who like what you teach but who are not your personal customers for one reason or another.
“More and more people are turning to do-it-yourself tactics for everything from marketing to repairs,” added Profi’s Trigubenko. “These DIYers might not hire you for services, but they just might pay you for your knowledge on a topic in the form of classes and seminars. Becoming a coach or trainer just might offer your business that extra boost that it needs.”
If we have learned anything over the last year, it’s that we can expect the unexpected. And, remaining agile and flexible is key for business success. If you keep a “we’ve always done it this way” mindset, it’s only a matter of time before you become obsolete. The world is moving fast, and businesses that will stand the test of time have to move with it