I have two main clients that take up most of my time and I am trying to figure out how to take on more client work and scale my "little agency of one"! What are some practical steps?
I've found that partnerships is the key to keeping client's happy and allows you to adjust 'team size' accordingly. I have a few digital marketing consulting clients on my own, and share other clients with fellow consultants depending on the project scope.
I could not disagree more with the advice to quote tell someone you will "fit them in." It is my subjective opinion but that accomplishes the opposite of the end goal of transparency. Think about it. Would you deal with someone who can fit you in? Maybe if it is the doctors office or if you are having your tires changed? But in business where you have a lot of choices? And really its not a way to emit a level of quality and focus. If some business I was outsourcing to told me they would fit me in, I would tell them "Go build your business. Manage it properly so that you aren't "fitting" people in, and rather 100% making the necessary time. Then I will consider doing business with you." Word choice in business is huge. We are in an age where "transparency" is the new hip word that too many people use incorrectly. Not saying there are not people who play this fitting in marketing game and succeed, but that is the point, it sounds like you are trying to create demand by pretending to be busy because in fact the "fit in" sales tactic is used in a gimmicky manner by so many people. The only time stating such might be appropriate is if you tell someone you don't currently have the resources to get to their project immediately, but you value them and you want to do what you can in the allotted time you have. Then quote them the amount of time you can work on it in which you devote full attention. A perfect example is that I had a car that recently needed to be serviced. They did not tell me they would fit me in. They were however TRANSPARENT in that they told me their schedule was booked and in order to give the matter full attention, the earliest time they could evaluate my car was three days out. For which they scheduled an appointment. Different schools of thought. You will find customers who feel blessed and amazed that you fit them. Im just not one of them...again..completely subjective but a different viewpoint
A few possibilities: Consider building your business by adding an additional person part time. Utilize your main clients as your foundation customers and you focus solely on them, while you onboard someone to do the majority of work with your new clients with you overseeing them. Increase your efficiency of output or restrict the amount of output. In other-words if you are going far beyond the industry output for your main two clients, it could be that you could scale back..10..15% and still provide more than enough for what they are desiring. I only say this because people will selfishly take and take as long as some one is generous enough to give. It is a real ethical issue facing entrepreneurship currently. Don't let someone use your hard work if that is the case. It could be that your quality justifies a higher fee as well which might allow you to decrease workload while increasing end revenue. You have a supply and demand issue. More demand than supply. Its a great challenge to have,
You can outsource your extra work and get commission for the same. Let me know if you like my suggestion and need the service.
outsource it or time to think about expanding the team :)
I would take a two pronged approach...
First, you have more demand for your time than hours in the day... The easiest thing is to raise your rates for clients without a contracted rate.
It is your business, your time and your life... Unless you have a "contracted rate" guaranteeing pricing forever in a contract, you can ethically charge whatever you choose.... and raise your rates whenever you want.
Second, I would "productize" your services as much as possible. Create trainings, videos and ebooks that enable people to walk through your process.
These function as both a revenue stream and as marketing tools for your higher end services.
Well being transparent always helps. When more clients ask for you tell them you could do it but during this timeframe since you are full but since you want to help them you want to 'try to fit them in'. This makes you seem 'in demand' and they might want to still do work with you and willing to work around your schedule. The other method is to keep the clients you love and for other clients recommend to others in your network to show you are connected and in the situation that you can't currently scale.
Scripts, build processes, flowcharts, guides to allow you to hire an intern for your local community college to do the grunt work. Look at your biggest comparable competitor, I am sure one of them has sample scripts that you can "borrow" to use as a training tool for your assistants. You should only be doing the work that requires you, meeting with clients, advertising yourself, you have to simplify the work so others can "make it so". Otherwise your pay is limited to what you can personally crank out "very little".