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How to Start a Remote Services Business, Efficiently
Level 3 - Virgin DeFi Analyst
Welcome Avatar! One criticism we get on the paid stack is that we push against services/time for money exchanges and focus on the *BIG* money which is recurring revenue (e-com, consumer, subscription, SaaS etc.). That said, it was a fair push back point so today we have a *FREE* overview on how to start a remote services business (by HarambeMoney).
If you get into services/consulting you are basically creating a mini job for yourself (time for money exchange). ***HOWEVER*** If you do a good job with it you can always *pivot* to a recurring/consumer business over time. Remember that as the most important thing is to provide great value and create high LTV of customer base.
Do that and you’ll eventually move to consumer/SaaS.
Starting a Services Business Remote - HarambeMoney
HarambeMoney here, I am super excited to be writing this, to call me a fanboy would be accurate. If I hadn’t discovered WSP/BTB in 2017, I seriously don’t know where I would be today. The most impactful book so far in my life has been “Efficiency,” and I definitely feel bad for those who won’t get to read it.
If you didn’t get to read, you’re not entirely out of luck. I’ll be sharing with you how I innovated a bit on Efficiency to bridge the gap between career and WIFI money. I get a lot of questions on Twitter about the prerequisites for starting an ecommerce store or a SaaS business.
It gets repetitive and clearly there’s a pattern. There’s no way around the fact that if you want to earn semi-passive income, you will have to spend money upfront. Often without a guarantee of success.
If someone tells you there’s a certain way of nailing this 100% of the time, they are lying to you. There are ways to minimize waste and cut your losses, like for instance, the good old sending traffic to a landing page without having the product (count the failed check out as sales to figure out if your landing page is good enough!).
In the case of SaaS, you can attempt to pre-sell if in the B2B space. But even if you do this, you aren’t guaranteed to win.
When I started my career as a software engineer, I realized it was difficult for me to risk my “safe” income launching a semi-passive business. Earlier attempts took me out of nearly six figures, even when I did things right. I came from nothing and I was a little bit more risk averse than most people.
But I didn’t give up, I still needed ways to ramp up my active income before I moved to more semi-passive forms of income.
If you did things right, you’re either in tech sales or software engineering. Perhaps, you’re an M&A banker. I actually never stepped into Wall Street, but I am sure that what I am about to share will be useful if you spent enough time in Wall Street. Probably not at the entry level though.
My point is that you have a skill that is monetizable outside of your job. If you’re in tech sales or software engineering, you can double if not triple your income, right now. And. You can do it with little upfront cost, in fact I’ll share exactly how you can do it for less than $100/mo.
That being said, I will focus on two things: 1) How to build a lead generation agency/consultancy and 2) How to build a software consultancy / development shop
I’ve never had a large scale lead generation agency, however, I’ve been paid to consult with companies and have sold lead generation systems before. I still run a software development firm till this day, some clients have paid me multiple six figures in yearly retainers for several years now.
If you notice a pattern here, your career directly translates into a scalable remote service business. If you’re in tech sales, you can start a lead generation agency. If you’re a software engineer, you can run a development shop.
If you’re in tech sales, but want to start a software development firm, I’ll talk about how you can hire people abroad to do this. 99% of the contracts my firm closes, I don’t even know the tech stack. I hire talent abroad for fulfillment.
You’re free to pick any niche you want, as long as you have one. My favorite niche to pick? The same as your career.
If you’re a software engineer focusing on building and maintaining a SaaS that deals with alternative data, then you should probably go after the same market as your company. When you start a service business, you want to make it as easy as possible and if you pick the right career (Tech Sales or Software Engineering) this part should be easy.
You might be wondering, “well if I am a software engineer, I can build any software, why should I have a niche?”. This is mostly true, but for the purposes of acquiring a client, you always need a niche. It’ll make things easier.
When was the last time you replied to those generalist Indian IT firms that list 100 services in their cold email? Exactly. Never.
If you don’t want to niche down your service business, at least create a niched down landing page that will be used for the outreach campaigns.
I never fulfilled any firm projects beyond my own career, I always chose to hire contractors abroad. I recommend using UpWork at first, then as you need more talent, you can use companies like Lemon.io.
At first I would search for talent from UpWork right after the client signed the contract, then during the discovery/onboarding phase of the project I would use that time to vet the talent.
This will be extremely painful at first, and probably hell on earth because it’s a dangerous balancing act, but possible nonetheless. Over time, you build a large pool of talent around the world and it becomes extremely easy as they are always a message away and eager to work.
One mistake I made earlier on was not hiring a project manager. Go to OnlineJobs.ph and hire one. Trust me, it’ll make your life a lot easier.
Creating An Offer
We finally got to the juicy part, you already know how to select a niche based on your current career. This alone will allow you to start a service business. But from here on, I will be primarily focusing on how to acquire clients.
This won’t be easy, but it’ll be straight forward. So if you’re willing to put in the work, you won’t want to miss this. There’s a fundamental difference between the service you sell and the offer you promote.
This is not only applicable to service businesses as it also works for products. If you’re going to promote your service without creating an offer, you’ll quickly realize that you’re one of many choices that the market has.
Unless, of course, you’ve created a completely unique service that only you can fulfill. I personally haven’t done this, and I bet most of you haven’t either. So how do we turn our service into an irresistible offer that will compel the lead you’re targeting to AT LEAST say yes to a phone call?
For that I have 5 questions I answer to help me craft a decent offer, I call these…
Offer Components: 1) Who is it for? Ex: Life insurance companies; 2) What is the solution? Ex: get more leads; 3) What is the opportunity? Ex: Dynamic database of new families; 4) Unique mechanism? Ex: Family Finder and 5) Business model (price/terms)? Ex: Pay per lead
I completely made up the answer to the questions above, but pretend I have a service business targeting insurance companies and I help them get more leads.
Questions 1 and 2, give you the niche you target and the solution you provide. Simple enough. However, things get fuzzy after question 3.
Question 3 needs you to lay out the opportunity, why is this relevant? How is it different? We all have a process of doing things.
Question 4 literally names the process laid out in question 3. It sounds tacky, but I have cold data from sending thousands of cold outreach messages that if you have a unique mechanism, you just get more responses from prospects.
Question 5 describes your business model, and how you decide to get paid. Once you’re done with those magic 5 questions. I want you to list pains that your prospect has. The more painful the better.
Since you are targeting the same industry of your career you should know these pains already. If not, you have research to do.
But once you have the 5 questions and the list of pains. You will complete this offer sentence:
Magic Offer Sentence: We help [ideal prospect in niche] get [solution] through [opportunity] without [Single Pain] Our [Unique Mechanism] has [case study]
If you notice I added a case study part at the end. If you can find any proof that you know what you say you know, it would go there. Believe it or not, you have now created the foundation for the copy you’ll use to send cold outreach messages.
Before we move on to the copywriting section, I want to add that offers that contain a form of risk reversal perform better and get better response. Things like getting paid per result and guarantees will get you more response, which means more meetings and more deals.
It also increases your risk, because you’re absorbing the risk from your prospect. As you get more case studies, you will dial back risk reversal, as your reputation becomes a form of risk reversal itself.
Believe it or not, I will keep it brief here. When it comes to cold outreach, you need to split test your copy to see what works and what doesn’t with your niche.
I suggest you read my post on how to use a tool called TIMER to “debug” your copy.
This is all you need to start. Unfortunately, copy is an extensive topic and we can be here for a while.
This is honestly my favorite part, I love prospecting. This is also the section where I knock every limiting belief you might have about starting a service based business.
Why? Because prospecting is all about effort, aside from that, it’s super cheap with tremendous upside.
By the end of this section I’ll teach you how to start this for under $70 a month.
If you’ve ever ran ads you know that getting thousands of high quality leads for $70/mo is a steal! In the service business space, the leads are cheaper and the average contract value is high. You won’t make money if you’re lazy, but that’s about it.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
This tool is all you need to get more leads than God. I won’t go into the details of how it works, you can easily find this out by watching a youtube video.
But I will say that you need to target decision makers when you’re filtering your search. That’s CEOs, C-Levels, and Directors. That will vary depending on the size of the company. The larger the firm, the more difficult it’ll be to get the CEO to respond.
You can get a direct response from a CEO with companies that have between $1M to $100M a year in revenue.
That’s been my experience. LinkedIn Sales Navigator is about $80/mo/account. If you’re starting out and this price tag bothers you, then head over to Fiverr and look up “Linkedin Sales Navigator activation.”
You can find people from countries like India to add you to their enterprise LI Sales Nav account for like $10/mo.
They only need your email. And congrats, I’ve now destroyed your money excuse as this is the most expensive tool on the prospecting list.
At the moment, SalesQL is my favorite tool to scrape emails from LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Basically LinkedIn Sales Navigator finds the people and then you use a tool like SalesQL or Apollo to extract emails and phone numbers.
SalesQL is like $40 per month.
If you really need a cheaper alternative, there’s a software called LeadLeaper. But I prefer SalesQL. Moving on.
You now have a list of emails, but not all emails are going to be valid. If you use SalesQL, you will have about 70-80% valid emails. That means that 20-30% of your emails are trash and won’t work at all.
However, what I like to do is take those invalid leads and connect with them on LinkedIn using a shorter version of my copy from above. Your own account is limited to 100 connections a week, but if you are feeling frisky. You can head over to GetLia.io and get yourself a bunch of avatars.
Lia is expensive, I recently discovered this tool as well. But it’s proving to be wonderful to scale out LinkedIn connection campaigns. I like to only connect with people I’ve contacted via email or cold called, to add more touch points.
The more touch points, the higher the chance of getting the meeting. For list cleaning you can use VoilaNorbert or NeverBounce. Both are valid tools.
Personalized First Lines
I’ve always been a fan of writing a personal compliment at the beginning of a cold email. The compliment is used to show that you actually did research on the person.
Don’t go overboard though, it’s easy to get cringey here and lose frame. Plenty of other people on Twitter swear by the first line. I am here to tell you that it’s true, it does increase response.
If you look at my example from the post I shared in the copywriting section, you’ll notice the first sentence in the email is an acknowledgement of a podcast interview.
Believe it or not, that’s all you need, something to show you did a bit of research. There’s another reason why we use first lines, and it has to do with deliverability. Basically the more unique each email is, the less likely it is going to end up getting flagged as spam.
If you’re feeling a little lazy, I would give QuickLines.ai a try. It has worked for me in the past.
There’s a lot of options when it comes to email sending softwares, but I’ll keep this short.
Go use Instantly.ai, it’s what all of us are using right now.
Get yourself 3+ domains from Google Domains and redirect them to your main site. Add these domains to your Instantly.ai account. Please don’t use your main domain, think of these domains that go into Instantly as burner phones.
Once they go sour (spam), you get a new one.
Congrats, you know exactly what to do to start a service based business.
You’ve built an offer, got your first email done, can get leads and can send emails.
Once you book a call, it’s no longer a marketing game, it’s a sales game.
@BowtiedSalesGuy is your guy for this. He goes into great detail on how to dominate the sales game. I’ve tested his methods and they don’t disappoint. I know I covered a lot of ground, but if you have any questions DMs are open.
BTB Note: For people with a background in Wall Street it is usually easiest to do the following: 1) you use your sector niche to figure out what type of internet business you want to start - if you were a consumer banker and don’t understand the industry like the back of your hand it means you were just processing pitch books and learned nothing during your time there, 2) you can always start up a basic interview prep/coaching set up. Honestly the market is saturated and our old stuff from the free blog would get you into any standard bank without spending a penny but in the end people will always pay for time ($100/hour is pretty easy if you can get them into a seat) and 3) if you’re a real sector expert you could create something like “gartner” but for a niche. If you look around every single industry has one strange niche guy who just has billions of data points and is the “go to resource”. Then you charge the banks, hedge funds etc. for this database/resource and you can bill them in the thousands of dollars per year.
Of all of these number 2 is the most played out. Many people try it and it scales to a couple hundred grand a year. Option 3 is probably the LEAST talked about. It also offers the highest upside since you would always be in style. Firms can switch out employees and it wouldn’t matter to you. In the end everyone needs your data points and information. Gartner is the best start for this (just find one industry expert guy) and you’ll see how niche it can get and how much you can charge.
We realize a lot of people were upset when we pivoted away from Wall St in general in 2015 or so. Luckily that is proving to be smart as the industry is in long-term decline. E-com is still on an upswing and as long as tech advances, it’ll eat into retail long-term. Wall Street is just there to give you a heavy bank account to fund your escape. Otherwise you end up with those bronze handcuffs (the golden ones were good back in the 2000s, but they are getting awfully cheap as the years go on).
Disclaimer: None of this is to be deemed legal or financial advice of any kind. These are *opinions* written by an anonymous group of Ex-Wall Street Tech Bankers and software engineers who moved into affiliate marketing and e-commerce. We’re an advisor for Synapse Protocol and on the JPEG team