Having a business is a lot like having a kid (or so I’ve been told).
While each child turns out unique, they all go through similar periods of learning and growth. It’s a lot like how your business grows and identifying the business model you are following.
For instance, do you ever wonder if you should offer services? Low-end or high-end services? What about an e-course, or products?
These questions are 100% normal and I’ve discovered that there are main stages for your business and that for each stage, your brand needs to evolve to incorporate the changes.
STAGE ONE: Experimentation aka Freelancing + Custom Services
This level of business is all about experimenting. It’s important to identify what you like to do in the bigger category of your industry, learn who you like to work with, your style of work, etc. You might remain in this stage for a couple of months or a couple of years (although if it’s been a couple of years be careful that you’re not stuck here). There is no right or wrong answer to what path your business journey takes you on.
At this stage of business you could honestly get by without a website or brand, but a lot of people aren’t comfortable with doing that because they need the confidence that a brand and website brings them. It’s 100% normal to feel this way. The danger is in trying to either do it yourself or trying to get it done for as cheap as possible.
When you go the DIY route you’re in for a steep learning curve. You’re essentially learning the skills of not just one industry, but two and you’re doomed to be a beginner in both. This takes away from time you should be spending connecting with people and providing your service.
On the other hand, if you go for a ‘cheaper’ option then you may struggle to either find the right person to do it (remember, the less someone charges, chances are the less experience they have too) or you may end up settling for a ‘good-enough’ brand by someone who is just acting as your hands. That’s a dangerous place to be because branding sets a standard for your entire business. If you set your standards low with your brand, what does that say about your business? Either that you’ll outgrow it pretty quick or you’ll never really strive to grow beyond it. Not a good place to be.
The main thing you want in a brand and website at this stage is something that is classy and versatile. I recommend a single page website with a list of your services and a way to contact you, with a nicely typeset logo and a few brand essentials like a color palette and font selections. You’ll have enough to get started and actually have the freedom to play. Play with your services, your copy, your prices, etc.
STAGE TWO: Focus aka The Signature Service
This stage is all about focus. Once you’ve gathered your intel from the first stage it’s time to decide what one problem you want to focus on solving for your clients.
Once you do you can really start getting serious about your business, start creating marketing materials, develop your brand authority through expressing yourself on a blog, charge based on value rather than hours, you get the idea.
This focus allows you to get very clear on who you’re talking to, develop systems for delivering your services, and start thinking about scaling.
As your business get’s focused through your service, your brand get’s hyper-focused at this stage too, which enables you to develop a strong position you can get known for. You can do this because we are defining who your target audience and ideal client is for that one service, what one problem you’ll get known for solving, what signature process you develop to get your clients from point a to point b.
The key to this stage is positioning; make a big statement and then back it up through your services and your messaging. We won’t list your services, we’ll package them to deliver value; talk about them to connect with those who need it most, position yourself as an expert through your blog by talking about what you do…obsessively, and develop a signature opt-in that leads into your signature service.
You aren’t stuck doing this one thing forever, but you do want to get known for it.
STAGE THREE: Growth aka Passive Income Products, Courses and/or Additional services
When you’re ready to develop some other income sources you have two options. Create an additional signature service that maybe takes your past clients to the next level, or develop passive income products.
Either way you choose (and you can do both eventually) you should know that passive income products aren’t a set-it and forget it answer. You’ll still need to be working on launching them periodically, showing up in the groups you create for them, improving them periodically, answering questions and the like.
When I say Passive Income Products I’m referring to things that you can offer as a bonus to your signature service and also sell separately for people who aren’t ready to work with you directly. Courses are great as a way to offer a DIY version of your signature service(s). Do you see the difference there?
Every time you grow your business with an additional offer you are adding to what we designers like to call your brand portfolio. For each new offer, it’s important to understand not just who the ideal client is for the new offer, but how that fits into the whole.
This is where toeing the line regarding brand management and brand consistency becomes a bit of a minefield. The truth is that while you CAN offer a lot of different things, you’re still going to want to edit what you actually DO offer publicly. Then, it’s a matter of massaging it into your existing positioning to ensure you don’t disrupt your own brand flow.
Every brand strategy correlates with where your business is at. When your business changes, shifts, evolves, etc; your brand needs to be considered to maintain relevancy.