What service should you offer?
That’s a big question when you’re figuring out how to start a service business online.
The answer to this question isn’t as simple as it seems.
First, you need to offer a service that clients will pay you good money to do for them. (After all, the goal is to have a full-time income, preferably without working full-time hours or more!)
Then, you have to be able to deliver it effectively, leaving your clients wildly happy so they hire you again and again (and spread the word about you to other possible clients).
And—many people forget this—you have to enjoy delivering the service, so you have a business you’re happy with. (Otherwise, it becomes another job you resent!)
In this post, I’ll share what worked for me when I was getting started with my online biz. It’s also the same method that has helped thousands of clients I’ve worked with for over a decade.
More specifically, I’ll show you how to come up with a no-brainer service offer that will be an easy “yes” for your prospective clients.
This way, you can begin generating an income, even if your online biz is brand-spankin’ new.
Not only that, what I’m going to teach you will set you up for growing your income steadily, up to six figures or beyond—even if you stick with the one-on-one service business model.
(Note: This is the second installment in the Grow Your Online Biz series designed to help you build a thriving, web-based business. Did you miss the first one? You can read it here.)
Step 1. Begin with the end in mind.
It sounds counterintuitive, but your first step is to think of the end in mind. That is, the end that your ideal client has in their mind.
Adopt the mindset that you’re offering a solution, not a service. So, ask yourself some important questions:
- What problem does my ideal client have?
- What specific, tangible result does my ideal client want?
- How am I going to help them solve their problem or get what they want?
Give yourself the time and space to think about the answers to these questions. Write them down; don’t keep your thoughts inside your head.
If the result you first think of is big, then break it down into smaller pieces or steps. Keep scaling down or going backward until you identify bite-sized results that will get your clients closer to the end-result.
For example, let’s say you’re a holistic nutrition coach and the result your clients want is to control their ADHD child’s symptoms without medications. If you keep breaking down this big result, you may come up with bite-sized results like:
- Find out what nutritional deficiencies are making their child’s behavior worse
- Address their child’s picky eating habits and develop healthier ones
- Learn how to prepare nutritious, budget-friendly dishes that even the most difficult eaters love to eat
- Identify and eliminate harmful foods in their home
… you get the idea!
(Now I’m not a nutrition coach, so these examples may be ridiculous. They’re not meant to be accurate but only to illustrate how you could perform this exercise.)
Brainstorm at least 20 ideas. Write down even those ideas that sound far-fetched or unrealistic. You’re only brainstorming, after all.
When you think you’ve exhausted all the possibilities, go back to your ideas. Make a shortlist of offers that:
- You can deliver in a relatively short amount of time (about 4 hours or less). After all, this is just your first bite-size offer. You want to complete it, learn what you can from it, and move on.
- You’d be happy to do. You need to be fully aligned with your offer because when you love what you’re selling, others pick up on your excitement and want to buy it!
- Solve a specific problem your clients want to solve. They must care about the end result. If they don’t, then no matter how great you think it is, they simply will not buy. Keep in mind that the result clients want may not be what you think they need!
Start small because you want prospects to be able to say “yes” quickly—without you having to get on a call with them and expending a ton of effort to get them to hire you.
Remember, you’re crafting a no-brainer of an offer!
Your first offer is similar to a “minimum viable product.” Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, defines minimum viable product as “that product which has just those features (and no more) that allows you to ship a product that resonates with early adopters; some of whom will pay you money or give you feedback.”
In other words, your first service offer should be a service that resonates with your first few clients, that you can get out there quickly, and get money and feedback for.
Step 2. Design the offer.
Now that you know what result you want and can promise, it’s time to put together the solution you will deliver. This refers to the actual mechanism or how you will deliver the result.
The different components that go into your offer depend on what kind of services you do. Do you do work with clients? If you’re a coach, consultant, or trainor then this is you.
Here’s the recommended bite-sized offer format for business owners who primarily do work with clients:
- Prep work (like an assessment)
- A 90-minute session (with homework, if appropriate)
- Support materials (like an action plan, a worksheet, handouts, a guided meditation, recipes, or a session recording)
- A 30-minute follow-up session 5 to 15 days later
OR, do you do work for clients? This is you if you’re a writer, designer, or editor.
Here’s the recommended bite-sized offer format for business owners who primarily do work for clients:
- Prep work (like an assessment)
- A 30-minute session to gather the information you need to do the work
- The work you deliver (such as writing, designing, programming, etc.)
- A 30-minute follow-up session 5 to 15 days later
Notice, I recommend that you have TWO phone/video sessions. Why is that? Because you need both touchpoints to get all of the insights you need from working with clients to grow your offers and your pricing.
Speaking of pricing …Click to TweetHow to design your offer, whether you work WITH clients or work FOR clients.
Step 3. Identify a no-brainer price.
Pricing is a common sticking point for online service providers, and it’s easy to see why.
You worry that if you charge too much, then nobody will hire you. Especially if you’re just starting out and you have no track record, no testimonials, and no raving fans yet.
But if you charge too little, then you wonder how you can make a decent living without working yourself to the bone.
Those are all reasonable concerns.
Just remember, this is only your starting point. You want a price point that’s easy for people to say yes to—even if they’ve never met or hired you before. This is not what you’ll be charging for your services for the rest of your career as a business owner.
For your first offer, I usually recommend that you charge $99.
It’s a good, no-brainer price point. Assuming you’ve identified a bite-sized solution that resonates with your potential clients, then you should be able to sell your $99-offer.
Another benefit of this price point is that it eliminates a common mindset block among service providers who are just starting out. That’s the money block of charging for your services. This shows up in thoughts like “Who do you think you are, anyway?” or “Why would anybody want to pay me for this?”
Now while I always recommend starting with a $99 offer, every once in a while, you can go above $99 for your first offer. That’s if:
- You have experience doing this type of work AND
- You’ve worked with at least 10 clients in the last year AND
- All of those clients worked with you to achieve the same results (and you delivered on those results)
- You’re extremely confident you can deliver on the specific, results-oriented offer
If you meet all of the above criteria, then you can start thinking about pricing your above $99.Click to TweetDeciding how much to charge for your offer usually brings up a lot of mindset stuff for business owners. Here’s what I recommend…
This is only the beginning.
Your first offer sets the stage for the long-term growth and sustainability for your business. Because it’s a no-brainer of an offer, you get money coming in immediately.
You don’t have to get on sales calls or consults with each prospect. You don’t have to do a ton of marketing or even to advertise your offer. And, you’re getting paid to gain more experience about your market and about yourself.
You learn more about your clients, so you can create more offers that you can charge more for. Eventually, you’ll know enough to craft premium priced services (aka “signature program,” “high-ticket program”). You’re not guessing at what your clients want and are willing to pay for.
Instead, you’re letting your clients show you how to improve your offers. So, if (and when!) they want more, you know what to offer at a higher price or in a larger package. Once you’ve landed on the right offer with the right clients, you’ll be able to quickly scale your offer and your pricing—with confidence and integrity every step of the way.Click to Download5-step process for creating a bite-sized offer that sells like hotcakes and sets the foundation for massive growth(and Beyond!)
You’re also becoming a better marketer. Your first few clients are telling you what language you should use in your copy to make it more compelling, and they’re helping you hone your skills even further.
All this information is priceless!
Pretty soon, your initial successes snowball. You get enough experience and confidence delivering the service. You gather testimonials from happy clients. And you build up your marketing and sales skills.
All right, if you’ve followed the steps this far, then you should have at least one irresistible service to offer potential clients.
Next Up: Getting Clients
We started this 4-part series with a post that shared why I think one-on-one services are the best way to get stated online.
Here we talked about how to come up with your first offer.
In Part 3, you’ll learn how to go about getting clients.
And in Part 4, you’ll discover the key to creating long-term success in your business.
My Personal Recommendation for YouCreate an irresistible offer your ideal clients will LOVE.