Productizing Your Way to a Predictable Income
An email popped up in my inbox a few days ago. It was from Uber, announcing its new upfront pricing scheme. Now you can know the exact cost of the trip before ordering.
That’s when I asked myself, “Could it get any better than that?”
Cost is known upfront. You know exactly when an Uber will arrive. Reliability from drivers is almost guaranteed, and the comfort and experience is next to predictable.
There’s a reason why Uber has gone from zero to billions in a few short years.
These guys are the masters of productizing the delivery of a service to the point where there’s an entire industry being disrupted.
Which begs the question, could you achieve such predictability in your business and see it take off?
Starting At The End—And Working Backwards
You might say that achieving predictability in a service-based business is tough, and you’d be right, but it’s certainly not impossible.
Business is unpredictable by nature. On both sides.
Bringing in cash month after month and giving clients an identical experience is not a walk in the park. Especially when your “product” is manufactured by humans.
But, whether you like it or not, guaranteeing a uniform outcome for your clients is the only way to get to the top. Every giant in business is a proof of that fact.
Sam Walton once said, “The two most important words I ever wrote were on that first Walmart sign: ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed.’ They’re still up there, and they have made all the difference.”
If what you want is predictable income and growth, it starts of by offering consistent, uniform and reliable value to each client you work with.
The Market is Always the First Step
Most of us get started in business for the wrong reasons. Some start accepting every client that knocks the door. Others struggle to get them in the first place—without really thinking about who they want to work with.
Sure, you must know what you do. You must master the know-how. But it really starts with the who.
Until this is in place, scaling is an uphill battle.
Focusing on a market segment immediately reduces needs to a handful.
Things become more predictable. Building systems and processes becomes easier, And getting people to fit into the company is much more straightforward.
This gives your business direction while making your message stronger—something we all need in this distracted world if we want to demand attention.
No One Likes (Negative) Surprises
People want predictable results, predictable experiences. They also want a predictable price when possible.
This is where packaging your services comes in.
Think as if you’re trying to package everything up in a little box—with a specific size, clear instructions, a clear value proposition, and an expiration date—to sell it at a store.
The less ambiguity about what it is that you sell, the better.
Defining your “little box” content and instructions relates to establishing the results you promise to clients—as well as the turnaround time and deliverables.
This sets the foundation for providing the same benefits every time. Which is the first part of a predictable business equation.
“But what if clients what something different?” you may ask.
The answer? You should be very cautious of bending the rules for a particular client.
When people come to you, you’re supposed to be the expert giving advice and results. Always evaluate if you’re talking to the right client or if you packaged the right thing in the first place. (After all, it’d be crazy for Kraft to manufacture personalized Macaroni & Cheese.)
Remember: the fact that you’re removing cost ambiguity and adding a layer of predictability to your offer enhances its perceived value.
People don’t like negative surprises. We’re wired to expect the same experience again and again, and that alone deserves a premium.
What Separates The Men From The Boys
Saying what you’ll deliver is one thing. Delivering great service again and again is another.
To deliver a fixed result on time, every time, you must have a well-defined process. This is probably the most important part, because it can make or break your business as you scale.
There are multiple business process management solutions available. I’ve heard people using all sorts of fancy stuff. But sometimes even a Google Docs can cut it.
Implementing it and actually using it is what really matters.
This also allows you—and your team—to make things faster so you can optimize for profitability over time. It also makes training new people and planning painless.
If you come from a freelance, I-do-the-work background, it can be a challenge to implement measurable, repeatable and predictable business process to transfer your knowledge to the people you hire.
But there’s simply no other way to do it.
Your Legacy Value Systems
When it’s time to scale, you can’t solely rely on referrals. You need a predictable way of getting clients to your door.
MJ deMarco, author of Unscripted, talks about a concept called legacy value systems in his book—referring to the different ways in which you multiply yourself, so to speak.
This encompasses virtually anything—from a team to content to any other way of setting up a marketing system that promotes your business for you.
It’s not enough to have a system in place to deliver work.
If you get to that point, great. It means you can take a few weeks of vacation and probably your business won’t stop.
But things get exciting when you can take a few months of vacation and see your business grow instead. That’s when you know all the cogs of the machine are firmly in place.
If you’re dealing with one-off projects, this is a must to drive consistent revenue, and if your business’s revenue model is recurring, we can start talking about consistent growth.
How’s that for business?
Predictability in business is more likely when you package up the things that you can control—what you do, how you do it, and who you do it for.
This allows businesses to become more efficient, effective and productive, giving clients a crystal-clear offer—and their staff a easy-to-follow process.
All big companies have scaled and grown by a method of standardization.
Without question, when you’re able to promise—and deliver—a predictable outcome is when you start to see disproportionate business results.