After I quit my job in June of 2013, some of my very first projects were small consulting gigs. From designing a website for a friend for $50, to helping a local business figure out their social media accounts. These projects gave me some runway to get on my feet and start thinking seriously about what it would take to run a business of my own.
Starting out by offering a service gave me the flexibility, experience, and income I needed to later build products. My early clients paid for the learning that eventually made its way into blog posts, courses, and ebooks. Those products now give me the credibility to charge $15–20k on average for a two-day corporate training. That’s what it actually looks like to become a Full-Stack Freelancer.
I know that many of you are interested in starting your own business. You want somewhere to put your new productivity skills to use! The best way to start a company, in my opinion, is to start by offering a service, for many reasons:
- It allows you to gain experience with a wide variety of clients, to understand what you’re best at and who your ideal customer is
- It can be started very cheaply and in parallel with a normal job if you’re not quite ready to take the plunge
- It allows you to optimize for learning and skill-building without the hassles of infrastructure, equipment, warehouses, or storefronts
- It can be performed flexibly, on your own time and from different locations
- It builds your personal brand, growing a network that you can take with you from client to client
- You can easily build on your services with new products and content
Now here’s the downside: the very same things that make service-based businesses awesome also create pitfalls:
- It’s easy to call yourself a consultant, but finding clients is another matter altogether
- There are few costs, but that also means there are constant new entrants, making it hard to cut through the noise
- It’s easy to change what you’re offering quickly, but you often have to start from scratch with new projects
- You can work from anywhere, but that also means work-life balance and structure around your workday can be elusive
- You get to focus on you and your brand, but that also means your reputation is on the line from day one
I’ve been looking for ways to support freelancers, solopreneurs, and wantrepreneurs because I know how difficult it can be to overcome these challenges on your own. There’s no reason we should each have to reinvent the wheel. I want to help make the leap from employment to entrepreneurship a little easier and less risky.
Speaking at Reactive Conference in Slovakia last October, I met Jan, an information science professor and top-level government advisor with many similar interests. We hit it off, and he enrolled in my course Building a Second Brain. Shortly thereafter, I received an urgent message from him: “I’ve found someone you have to meet.”
That person ended up being Jeff Sauer, an entrepreneur and online marketing expert. We connected and quickly found that our approaches complemented each other perfectly: I teach people how to capture and utilize their knowledge using software, while Jeff teaches how to turn that knowledge and experience into profitable service businesses.
Jeff is an all-star in the online marketing world. As a partner he grew his marketing agency by 500% to $6 million in annual revenue, reaching the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies for five years in a row. He’s provided everything from SEO and web analytics services, to social media and online reputation management, to email marketing and e-commerce consulting, serving small businesses and Fortune 500 brands alike.
He’s also successfully made the transition to online products, launching in-depth courses on Google Analytics, Google Adwords, and data-driven marketing. Most recently, he’s summarized what he learned over 13 years into an online course called Agency Jumpstart. It is a treasure trove of models, frameworks, case studies, hard learnings, and live coaching on the art and science of scaling a service. It’s a rare insider view of the nuts and bolts of running an agency, from one-person freelancing all the way up to a big team. If I was starting a business today, I’d start with this course.
Because Jeff’s offerings are such a great complement to mine, I’m partnering with him to offer a one-time live webinar, integrating Building a Second Brain with Agency Jumpstart.
In this webinar, Build A Six-Figure Service-Based Business Without Trial and Error, Jeff and I will present some of our top recommendations for turning your knowledge into a service business.
- The ONE revenue model for service-based businesses that virtually guarantees cash-flow month-after-month
- The importance of avoiding the Law of Desperation in your service-based business and how the Pipeline Rule can help you do this
- What the “Sauer Reframe Technique” is and how to use it to ethically price your freelancing or consulting services
- How to avoid the #1 mistake service-based businesses make when selling services
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