15 Powerful Income-Producing Activities for Service Businesses
When you run a business working with clients, your success is directly tied to how you find, book, and wow your clients. Yet, so often we invest time into activities that don’t directly impact our bottom line. The truth is when we have limited time to work on the business, our time should be spent on income-producing activities for our service business.
As the name applies, an income-producing activity is a task or tactic that’s designed to support our specific income goals, and skip over those items on our to-do list that are most likely busywork.
You’ll notice, as you review this list, that the focus is on relationship marketing — not things like perfecting your website or sending out emails to your list. While those are valuable activities, when you have limited time, the goal is to focus your time and effort on those that will have a more immediate payoff.
Here are 15 powerful income producing activities for service businesses:
Sure, networking is extremely obvious as a way to meet clients, but it tends to be something most business owners avoid. I get it. It’s hard to want to leave your home office, put on real pants, and talk to people. But if you’re hiding out at home, it’s really hard for people to find you and hire you.
Keep in mind that networking doesn’t have to be about throwing around business cards at an event and can be done in many different ways. You can meet people for coffee, connect online — get creative about your approach. The key is that you invest time in expanding your professional network as each new contact means one more potential client or collaborator.
#2. Fostering Collaborations
The days of carefully guarding everything you know and never talking to your competition are over. Community over competition is where it’s at, and when you embrace this spirit, you may be surprised at where your clients come from.
Get to know your “competitors” and build relationships with people you could potentially collaborate with. Over the years, collaborations have led to additional revenue and opportunities I would have never had access to otherwise.
#3. Getting Referrals
From day one in my business, referrals have been my number one lead source, and 13 years later, that’s still true. Referrals are essential to you as a service business owner as it helps you expand your network and book clients that are partially sold on what you can do for them.
To ensure you have a steady stream of referrals, don’t go out into the world and talk about how you’re booked for months and months. When you do that, you’re telling people you’re too busy, and they’re less likely to refer business to you. And don’t just wait for people to refer you; proactively ask your current and past clients for referrals and then expand that to your broader network.
#4. Keeping In Touch
How many times have you met someone only to realize the timing wasn’t quite right? As the saying goes, timing is everything, and that’s why you need to master the art of keeping in touch with your network.
So many times we forget about people that are potential clients or collaborators, and if we just nurtured those relationships, we’d have more opportunities than we can handle. Create some type of “keep in touch” system where you have a plan in place to stay in touch with people at set intervals.
#5. Being a Guest Star
Remember all the stars over the years that made appearances on Friends? I sure do, and that’s because everyone loves a special guest star! To reach new audiences, look for ways to guest star on other people’s platforms (or as I call them — OPPs).
This can be done by guest posting, podcast or video interviews, guest teaching, speaking or any other way where you’re able to share with their existing audience.
#6. Going to Events
Want to make more money? Leave your damn house! I wish I was joking, but it’s really that simple. When you invest in attending events, you’re getting access to people you wouldn’t necessarily otherwise meet.
Look for industry events where your clients will be or events where you can meet potential collaborators and referral sources. And don’t overlook local or regional events; these smaller events have been some of my best sources of new revenue in the past two years!
#7. Marketing with a Goal
I run a content marketing agency, so in good faith, I couldn’t just skip over marketing as a potential way to find new clients. Here’s what I’m not talking about — doing so much marketing that it’s all you do and it’s not actually producing results. Digital marketing is a long-term investment so don’t rely on it as a way to produce income for your service business quickly, and choose your tactics wisely. Have a specific goal in mind versus trying to be everywhere and do everything as that’s a recipe for burnout.
#8. Testimonials and Case Studies
If you want to book more clients, you likely need more testimonials or even case studies that showcase the results your clients get from working with you. Many times, we skip over asking for testimonials when it’s actually one of the most powerful tools we have to help us find and close new clients.
A well-placed testimonial or case study on your website can be the thing that makes the difference between a potential client reaching out to you or not. And using this social proof strategically in your sales process can help make saying yes to working with you that much easier for your prospects.
#9. Creating Packaged Services
Let’s face it, selling your services can be challenging — especially when it comes to explaining what you do and what clients can expect. By investing time on packaging your services, you’re pre-defining what you offer, how you deliver those services, and even your pricing.
Taking the time to define your service offerings makes it easy for your would-be clients to understand what you can do for them. Once your packages are set up, you can create sales pages for them, add them to proposals, and walk leads through them on your consult calls.
#10. Producing Pro Proposals
If you write proposals, you know exactly how time-consuming they can be to create and how you can agonize over getting them just right. Your proposals are critical to being able to close a new client, but they don’t have to be super time consuming or stressful to create.
Start by creating a proposal template that positions you as the best answer to the client’s needs. With a template, you should be able to customize the scope of work and pricing to the client’s specific situation in a matter of a few minutes and come off looking like a professional every single time. Also, don’t forget to add more than just the scope of work and terms of the engagement. You want to include sections on why they should choose you and how you would work together as well.
#11. Consult Calls
One of the biggest complaints I hear from service business owners is that they waste a lot of time on consult calls. And if this is you, it’s time for a re-frame where you approach consults as a way to connect with people and book potential business.
To make the most of your consult calls, you need to take the time to pre-screen people for fit before you get on the phone, and have a defined process to ensure calls aren’t a waste of time. The goal should be to book a potential client, and if not, to make a lasting connection that may turn into a client or referral source in the future.
#12. Following up with Potential Leads
You know those clients that never give you a solid answer or disappear after you send a proposal? Don’t write them off until you take time to follow-up with them and ensure you’re touching base with them in the future, as you never know when they may be ready to say yes.
This may seem like a waste of time, but rest assured, it’s not. A lead sometimes needs more time to decide or they’ll need your services down the road. Plus, you know this person is at least a little bit warm, which beats a cold lead every single time. You may be surprised how making an effort to consistently follow-up can pay off. I’ve personally had leads turn into clients for my agency or sign on as mentoring clients after months or even years have passed.
#13. Upselling Existing Clients
Running a service business means you’re in the business of serving your clients. And nothing can serve your clients more than you being proactive and identifying opportunities for their business. This may be something they’re doing that you know you can help with or a new opportunity for them.
Carefully examine what all of your clients are currently doing, and seek out ways you can help them do business even better. Then, take action to make these suggestions to your clients in a helpful way. I find that even if a client isn’t ready to expand our work together, they appreciate the diligence and thought you put into their business.
#14. Contacting Past Clients
Your past clients are an amazing source of future business, and it’s so much easier to engage someone who already knows what you can do for them. Don’t let your past client contacts go stale! Reach out to them to see how they’re doing and suggest ways you may be able to work together.
In 2018, many of our agency clients have been past clients that have come back for new projects, and that’s been the result of keeping in touch and ensuring that they know we’d love to work together again. There have been clients that I’ve kept in touch with for years and that has meant we’ve been top of mind when a content marketing project came up.
#15. Reaching Out to Cold Contacts
Depending on the type of service you offer or your industry, you may need to reach out to cold contacts to engage them as potential clients. While scary for many of us, this tactic can be incredibly effective when done right.
The key with your cold outreach is targeting your outreach via email or LinkedIn so it stands out. I’ve seen several of my mentoring clients turn these cold emails into booked clients worth thousands and thousands of dollars, so if you’re struggling to find clients, this may be an income producing activity to add to your arsenal.
BONUS: Delivering on Client Commitments
Your future income can rely heavily on the actions you take today, so as you work to produce more income for your business, don’t neglect the clients you have now. Your goal should be to wow your current clients so you have a reputation for delivering and they walk away as fans of your business. Happy clients are clients who’ll come back in the future and share you with their professional network.
No matter what income-producing activity from the above list you choose, you have proven tactics for you to take action on and make more money in your business. Choose how you spend your time working ON your business carefully and then watch your business grow.