Bridging the gap between an independent practice and a scalable business requires a mindset shift, and taking inspiration from the startup founders’ book would put you on the right path:
1. Productization of your offer
You and your time are not evolutionary. This means that the first and most important step is to fix this problem. There are generally two ways to do this – with people and with technology. The first way will turn your practice into an agency. The second, which is more interesting for this article – to a startup.
Productizing your offering means turning your services into a product that can be repeatedly sold to multiple customers at minimum cost, or at least come as close to that ideal as possible.
To do this, you need to identify the building blocks of your service that can be standardized and packaged. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, you can create a series of templates or content packages that can be customized for different clients. If you are a designer or an artist – a course or set of tools for artists and/or designers.
Producing your offering requires careful planning and a focus on creating a high-quality, repeatable product that meets the needs of your target audience as closely as possible. At the same time, it also means that your goal is to customize it as little as possible for individual clients, which is a 180 degree shift from the way a freelancer usually thinks about their work with their clients.
For example, an ebook is a perfectly scalable product – you can sell it to an unlimited number of people with zero personalization and near zero marginal cost.
2. Move from a solopreneur mindset to a team-oriented mindset
As a freelancer, you may be used to working on your own and managing all aspects of your business. However, to scale your business and turn it into a startup, you will need to shift from a solopreneur mindset to a team-oriented mindset. This means hiring employees, contractors or freelancers to help you with various aspects of your business.
Producing your offer may require expertise that you do not have. You must be ready to involve other people and invest financially in this project.
3. Development of a comprehensive business plan
Freelancers don’t always prioritize long-term planning, but a comprehensive business plan is key to turning your business practice into a startup. This plan should describe your vision, your target audience, your sources of income and your potential for growth. It should also include details about your marketing and sales strategies – as a freelancer, you may be used to getting new clients from referrals or applying directly to jobs or gigs. However, this is usually not enough if you are selling a new product (or product service). Your marketing efforts must be scalable and you must ensure that the cost of acquiring a new customer is low enough to be covered by the price of your product, otherwise your efforts to scale your business would make no economic sense. .
Also, since you would be investing time and resources in this project, it is important to have basic financial projections.
If you do not intend to seek outside partners or investors, all of this information does not need to be presented in a formal business plan. However, creating one is still a good idea as it helps you structure your thoughts and see potential problems in your plans.