The difficulty in starting up in business is honing your offer. What is it you actually do well? and what value can you deliver to others?
I took a lot of advice about the services I should offer, even carrying out a business start-up survey to try and find out what people might need. I have a broad range of experience in marketing and business development but more recently had developed and promoted apprenticeships. So, what do you do with this combination of skills? Do you sell them all? Do you choose one and run with it? Do you test the market or just go out and pitch them all?
From the survey I carried out the interest in marketing seemed mute, in fact one of the questions I asked was about market saturation and the participants all suggested there were too many marketing companies. This became key feedback for me when developing my offer and website. I would lead with apprenticeships. This is the area in which I was currently known for. I would also add in business services covering broad strokes of other activities I could cover but these would be value add-ons.
What happened next was curious. No one wanted apprenticeship advice. The sector is struggling and reportedly the demand for apprenticeships has gone through the floor due to the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy. According to FE News “organisations have paid in more than £1.39 billion but only withdrawn £108 million.” If employers don’t want to opt into use their levy, or most likely are resistant because it is a newly imposed tax then how can I support this?
My aim was to give it 6 months as a main focus and then review the offer. Interestingly, what also happened is that my first client came along wanting a variety of activities. From web development, graphic design, videography, marketing planning, business development and executive administration, all of which I can support. As such when talking with prospective clients, these services became a focus and then next client wanted similar support, and then the next. My most recent client wants support with investor pitching, marketing and social media management. I am heading down a very different path to my original concept.
My rigid mindset is struggling because I offer what I offer don’t I? I have driven my stake into the ground and promoted myself for the specific skills on my website. Do I turn away work and try to pitch my vision of what I offer, or do I diversify and offer the range of skills I have? I choose to diversify.
This weekend is spent working on my third edit of the website to include the range of skills I actually have. Including graphic design, video, web development, business development, marketing planning, social media and apprenticeships. I took a lot of advice when starting, a lot of feedback circling about being a “Jack of all trades and master of none”. It was a real concern for me when preparing my services for promotion. But now I have realised it is about delivering. Delivering on the services you offer even if they are far reaching and diverse. But also, being able to edit the offer. Not being fixed on what you think people want, but instead being entirely flexible to what people need.
To check out my updated services page click HERE.
Have a productive week everyone!