11 top tips to scaling a service based business

coworking in central london

Scaling a business with its roots in service rather than product can feel like a minefield, with many business owners reaching what they think is the ceiling and lacking the guidance or support to know what comes next. Thankfully, with many of our members building successful service-led businesses, we know a thing or two about scaling a business.

Here are our 11 top tips to get you well on your way to building outwards, as well as upwards…


1. Start thinking like the business you want to be

When making strategic decisions, think about the consequences in the context of your future business, or where you want it to be in five years’ time. Doing so will help you to continuously visualise business growth and expansion, as well as making gradual, consistent steps towards scaling your business.


2. Look at your competitors

For every start-up or SMB, there are larger-scale counterparts. Often, part of the start-up ambition is to right some of the corporate wrongs, yet there are vital learnings in how larger companies have scaled their business. Understanding their business model is a good way to begin mapping your route for growth.


3. Get feedback from your customers

Understand from your customer what is they think you do best. By gleaning this valuable information, you’ll be able to hone your work to your greatest skillset, setting your business apart as the best-in-class and scaling your offering in a way that is focused and succinct.


4. Turn your services into products

Part of the reason product-led businesses are often scaled quicker than service-based ones, is the simplicity of their product range. Many service businesses can easily overcomplicate the packages available and the corresponding prices – make this simple, catalogue your services as though they were a menu from which the client can select what they need.


5. Don’t devalue your worth

Scaling your business can often mean taking on new clients at higher prices than those contracted with your original partners. With more experience and skill comes more value for the client, so don’t be afraid to review and increase your prices accordingly, not doing so would be a disservice to yourself and the industry. Think analytically – having fewer clients at a higher price could be a better strategic decision.


6. Stop selling just your own time

When starting out, it’s likely you began by simply selling your own time. However, scaling a business means that you are going to need to be able to invest your efforts in acquiring new custom, whilst a trusted team can execute the work and service. This way you can leverage your experience to give your clients confidence that those working with you, do so to the same standard.


7. Never skimp on the quality of service

In a service-led business, your whole brand identity and reputation is built on the level of service a client receives. It’s likely that when you are ready to scale your business – you’ve had strong client feedback that suggests the service you are offering is at a premium. It’s vital that with scale doesn’t come a drop in customer satisfaction, skimping on service is not an option.


8. Build a team of great employees

As your business grows, it’s inevitable that so too will the size of your team: a one-man-band isn’t a scalable business model. By employing the right people in the right role, you will have the resources at your disposal to take on more projects and clients, whilst knowing that the existing ones are taking care of.


9. Identify barriers to growth

Be honest and pragmatic about any obvious barriers to growth. Once identified, these can form the preliminary objectives to build the right foundations from which to scale your business. Anything from lack of leadership skills to being in the wrong premises, could be the cornerstone to removing limits on your scalability.


10. Focus on profit and process

Ensure that the margin on the service you are providing is high enough to cover the cost of having someone other than yourself work on the project. This will help to ensure that the service can deliver at scale. Consider your process too – charging clients for time over outputs can be hindering. Refine your processes so that all employees thoroughly understand what workflow is involved in each service you offer – this way your clients receive the same quality each time, for the same price.


11. Explore streamlining through automation

As a service-led business, your biggest investment will be in a workforce to scale your business. Therefore, automation can be a huge asset, saving you a significant amount of time and money. Admin such as booking confirmations or marketing communications can all be scheduled with an automated CRM system, so although the upfront cost would be an investment, down the line it’s one worth making.