After a few years of building your consulting business, you will find yourself between a rock and a hard place.
You are the reason your business is growing, but the consulting model does not allow you to scale like other businesses.
Sure, you can outsource some functions (admin, book-keeping, accounting, and maybe marketing), but your income is still tied to the number of hours you work.
So, you start looking for leverage.
Your mission: earn more and work less.
Maybe you’re an avid gardener (like me) and want to stop and smell the r̶o̶s̶e̶s̶ jasmine.
You decide to take the plunge and bring in a junior consultant to delegate to, so you can free up your time.
To keep the math easy, let’s assume you’re generating $150,000 in annual revenue and your new hire has a (cheap) $75,000 salary, before other expenses like healthcare, etc.
Even if your new recruit is a unicorn and can magically pick up half of your existing workload immediately, the math doesn’t make sense.
You just took a 50% pay cut to double your workload
Their salary comes directly out of your salary. You now need to generate enough new business to cover their salary just to get back to break even.
In fact, your business needs to grow 50% to make up the gap and it’s on you to get more leads in to make that happen. That takes time, effort and extra investment in sales and marketing.
But you go for it anyway.
It turns out your new hire is a unicorn and they quickly hit their stride.
They’re delivering results and your clients are happy. In the meantime, you’ve picked up just about enough business to cover the shortfall.
The garden is in sight.
You can almost feel the dirt underneath your fingernails when it happens.
You get “The Email”.
Your unicorn is moving onto greener pastures (err, more colorful rainbows?) and you’re left holding the bag.
The work you handed off has been returned to sender and you’re back at square one.
You go back to the drawing board and look at your options.
Here are a few of the options you come up with:
Build a software company
Hey, if Mailchimp, 37 Signals and Nathan Barry at ConvertKit can do it, so can you!
You have a few problems:
- You still need to make payroll
- You don’t have any engineering or design skills, let alone the extra time to learn them
- The ramp time to build a useful software product can be six months or more – it’s a long term investment and you don’t feel quite ready to make the leap
- You’re back where you started in fight or flight mode – lots of work to be done, but not enough time to do it all
- You’re not exactly sure where to start
Build an online course
You heard somewhere that you’re just “one funnel away” from riches. So, you dive in and start your due diligence.
As you peel back the layers on the online course industry, you realize a lot of the people who make money in this space teach meta-principles.
They show you how to “make money online by teaching you to make money online so you can replicate the same model that teaches other people to make money online.”
There are a few shining examples of people who create real value, like Brian Balfour and the team at Reforge, but it feels a bit… scammy.
Your conclusion – it’s a hugely lucrative business, but it’s unclear what you would sell and who you would sell it to.
You can’t see your favorite consulting client sitting down to work through an online course when their hair is on fire and they need you to come and put it out.
Supplement your income with a book
A lot of people in your network have become overnight bestselling authors on Amazon.
You peel back the layers.
Your investigation shows you the bestseller list for a niche category changes every day.
Would some of these bestsellers game the system to achieve this status?
For you to feel good about publishing a book, you would want to give it the time and attention it deserves. Then you would need to edit it, publish it and promote it.
That could take you a year or more of focused effort.
Who has the time?
Then, one of your friends mentions a different model called a ‘productized service’.
The term doesn’t exactly roll of your tongue, but it has your attention.
So you dig in.
Build a productized service
You hit Googly-o for a search and a few examples pop up.
Hubsnacks – done for your Hubspot tasks. 21 team members. Revenue is undisclosed. Founded in 2014.
Helpflow – live chat as a service. 200 clients. 4 years in business. Lots of team members on the about page, revenue undisclosed.
Lead Cookie – done for your LinkedIn lead generation. Six months to $33k/month. Well beyond that now, with the founder working five hours a week (!?)
WP Curve – 24/7 WordPress support. Founded in 2013, scaled beyond 7 figures in annual revenue, sold to GoDaddy in 2016.
Full disclosure: I’ve worked with the founders of the first three companies and I co-founded the last company.
So what is this productized service thing?
It’s deceptively simple:
- You identify a recurring problem you enjoy solving
- You build an offer
- You map out a process to solve the problem
- You sell it
- As you make progress, you scale a team around the process
- You get back to the garden
At this point, you might have more questions than answers.
Can it be big enough? Sure. There are plenty of examples of very successful productized services that are well into eight figures of annual revenue, like Main Street Hub.
So you stack your options up, side by side.
So, what’s the catch?
You need to nail down the problem you want to solve and get to work.
Here’s a template to help.
It’s called the RESCUE framework and I use it to discern if a productized service is worth building.
Submit your details below and I’ll share the following with you, for free:
- A blank RESCUE template you can use for your own ideas
- Six videos to explain the meaning of each term
- A completed RESCUE template for WP Curve (24/7 WordPress support company I co-founded and later sold to GoDaddy)
- An 8-figure productized service business idea, plus
- An 8-week program to help you make the transition from Consultant to CEO
Here’s a brief preview: