How to grow a freelance/service based business?

Discussion in 'Growing and Managing a Business' started by Kevin C, Aug 30, 2010.

  1. Kevin C

    Kevin C
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    Hello all,

    I've been working the past three years as a freelancer and while it's been ok (difficult at times as it deals with the construction industry) and while I've been hacking out a living I want to take it to the next level.

    Does this make sense? I mainly create catalogues and pricing systems, as well as some automated standalone quoting systems. I want to start farming out jobs to contractors, review and control these projects and then essentially add my fees onto theirs. This way I can increase the volume of jobs that I do while making it easier for myself.

    I'm looking at incorporating - at least under a numbered company - and putting some time into association memberships and a basic website with a drop-box functionality.

    Is there any advice you can give me? Are there any case studies I can look at to see how other people undertook this task? It's a little daunting because while I'm quite familiar with costing and setting up manufacturing business I am really unsure about a service-based business models and how I can structure them for growth potential...
     
  2. Fergal

    Fergal
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    Welcome to Business Advice Forum Kevin C and thanks for asking your business questions.

    Do you in effect want to sell the contractors' services and then act as a Project Manager to ensure the jobs are completed profitably and on schedule.

    What country would the business be based in?
     
  3. Kevin C

    Kevin C
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    Thanks, Fergal,

    Yes that's exactly what I would be doing. At first I would also be sales and the contact. I have a fair degree of project management training but limited experience at it. I think I would do a fairly good job.

    Of course, at the beginning I would continue having to wear different hats, accounting, marketing, worker, sales etc. I'm okay at most of these tasks but due to my background I have the contacts in the industry and I think that the initial sales and project planning would be my strength.

    It's operating out of Canada and while I would keep an eye out on how expensive the contractors are, quality would be my first concern. I can find contractors online through elance or guru.com but it's going to be tough qualifying them.

    Oh, and the reason why this is coming up now is that I'm sitting down and actually doing a business/marketing plan. I didn't do it before as I was just a freelancer but if I want to push this to the next level I'll need to do the whole planning out bit.
     
  4. Fergal

    Fergal
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    Kevin, when I read "as it deals with the construction industry" in your first post, I understood that you were in the construction business yourself, sorry about that. Would your new business be providing software programming services or something else?

    It's difficult to give an opinion as to whether or not any particular business will be successful, because there are so many variables. The most important step for you right now will probably be the careful completion of your business plan. That will give you a lot of clarity on the business model and help you with researching the feasibility of the business. You might find the links listed in the Business Plan Templates section of our Useful Business Resources / Links thread helpful.

    Have you researched existing businesses who are providing similar services? Have you had a chat with any potential clients yet, to get their views as to the services they would require and other valuable feedback they could give you?
     
  5. ocwpa

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    Kevin, its a cool idea. Does require some market research and proof of concept, as briefly mentioned by Fregal, in particular on the business plan. On a lesser business side of things, I'll be glad to help if i can.
     
  6. Kay

    Kay
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    Hi Kevin and welcome aboard. There's a few more sites I can suggest you try for freelancers. There's odesk which has the advantage of allowing you to monitor the people you're using.

    Also, I recently came across one called ifreelance.com. For those posting projects like yourself, it's completely free. (Providers have to pay a small monthly membership fee, which I think is a good thing as it shows they are serious about finding work.)

    My understanding is you'll be outsourcing portions of the work then to independent contractors, is that right? Can you can share a little more on what type you'd be looking for e.g. programmers, graphic designers etc? I'll do my best to find some more sites for you where you can locate suitable candidates. :)
     
  7. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan
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    Absolutely, Kay. oDesk is a great company for freelancers. As a contractor or employee, you get to choose the best job that would fit your skills and as an employer or provider, you have the liberty to choose the right person from hundreds or thousands of applicants and guard them closely when they work (snapshots are provided through their own software app).
     

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