- The most valuable service you can offer growth-stage companies
- How to help startups grow
- 1. Generating leads
- 2. Closing leads (converting)
- 3. Forming business partnerships
- 4. Finding scalable acquisition channels
- 5. Recruiting the people who do these things well
- 6. Contributing another service like design, content writing, etc.
What’s the most valuable service you can offer a company?
Let’s think about this question in terms of . What do they want most? That answer depends on the stage of the company. Is it in a growth stage?
People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want a quarter-inch hole.
— Harvard Business School marketing professor Theodore Levitt is famous for saying:
We can take this drill/hole analogy one step further—why do they want a quarter-inch hole? For a shelf? Why a shelf? To display valuable items? For what reason? To feel better about themselves, or perhaps have status among their friends?
As you can see, we can trace the line of intent all the way back to core feelings, desires, and motivations which are far removed from the “thing” people buy.
In much the same way, when a company hires a writer, it’s not because they want pretty words on a blog. They need business results—website traffic, leads, users, and paying customers.
The most valuable service you can offer growth-stage companies
Consistent with this approach, we believe the most valuable service you can possibly offer a growth-stage company is exactly that! Growth.
How to help startups grow
You can help a company bring in business in several ways.
1. Generating leads
There are many kinds of activities that fall under the umbrella of lead generation. At the core, though, you need to understand the concepts of acquisition channels and sales funnels.
2. Closing leads (converting)
Of course, if a business is to succeed, it has to be able to turn leads into users/paying customers at some point.
When there’s a human sales process involved, this means talking on the phone, meeting in person, nurturing relationships, and ultimately welcoming the customer when they are ready. This is hard to outsource to freelancers, but when companies do it well we usually call it affiliate marketing, at that point.
3. Forming business partnerships
If you can help companies form mutually beneficial, noteworthy partnerships, you’re extremely valuable. In fact, that goes for yourself as a freelancer. Start reaching out to other freelancers you respect and admire—a couple new ones every day for a while—and build those relationships now. Someday they will return the favor with client referrals, collaborations, and more.
4. Finding scalable acquisition channels
This is called growth marketing, growth hacking, etc.
If you want to become excellent at growing companies, this is about as far as this guide can take you—for now. But you can always learn from courses and programs like Demand Curve:
The curriculum is built to work with your schedule. Depending on your bandwidth, you can start finding growth wins in as little as four weeks, or as much as six months. Some students devote half their workday (four hours/day) to the material - they start acquiring customers as early as Week 3 and can complete the whole program in about 1 month.
5. Recruiting the people who do these things well
This involves talent sourcing, recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and more. The last parts, hiring and onboarding, are rarely something startups outsource.
Hiring is guessing; firing is knowing.
– Gary Vee
6. Contributing another service like design, content writing, etc.
This is the category most freelancers fall into, and probably you, too.
As long as you always remember that startups value these kinds of services as they relate to their grand vision, their grand plans of growth and market domination.
When you talk about your craft in business terms, that’s called offering business solutions.
The other way—trying to sell your craft itself—is called technical solutions.
We want to sell business solutions because it’s easier to get clients that way, and because it reminds you as the freelancer why you’re even doing the stuff.
Great design is nice, but if a company is spending money on it, it needs to have ROI.