*guest post by Tijana Momirov
10 crucial points to understand in order to sell your existing expertise as a productized service.
Want to run your own show? Be your own brand, your own business? Not sure what you can sell?
Sell your existing expertise!
Leverage your knowledge and experience and provide high-quality services as an independent consultant. You might be feeling tired of your corporate career and wanting to turn a new page, but be smart about it.
All the time invested and experience gathered might just be the thing to bring you that much needed freedom oriented business.
Ten crucial points to understand:
1. Your superpower is actually the combination of your standard powers – but a combination unique to you.
For example, if you say “I am a photographer”. Sure, but there are already plenty of photographers, with thousands of images in the stock. Then you say “I swim very well”. Sure, but you’ll probably not gonna make it to the Olympics.
But what if you use your ability to stay in control in the water and take those amazing photos of surfers in the tubes? That would already make you stand out from the crowd.
Add the languages, soft skills, volunteer work, hobbies and you are becoming more and more unique. And more and more suitable to provide certain service.
2. A resume is for an employee.
Your superpower is the combination of your standard powers. That said, DO NOT go and just list of all your skills, experiences and education in a resume. A resume is for an employee. And that’s not what we’re doing here. A resume is a list of ingredients. Ingredients don’t solve a pain point.
An example: I am hungry and I’m craving a “moqueca de camarao” (a traditional dish from a Brazilian state of Bahia). I visit a web page of a restaurant and there I get informed that the establishment in fact has coconut milk, dende oil and shrimps at their disposal. And I go like “great, happy for ya, but that still doesn’t solve my pain point”.
My pain point being I’m craving moqueca. So I go ahead and visit a website of another restaurant where they kindly inform me that they can provide a moqueca de camarao for me.
In addition, they mention, there is the content of their storage listed, if I feel like checking on the ingredients they have. But most importantly, they clearly state that they can solve my pain point.
The resumes work in the traditional, corporate environment. There is a job opening with the title of the position is such and such, it requires such and such diploma and certificates, min X years of experience, you will be working exactly Y hours per week, Z% of travelling, you will have N people under you, and you will report directly to the Head of M etc. etc.
Then you send the resume, the HR does the matching etc. But here we are talking about you landing a job (or rather selling your productized service) to a business that hasn’t listed any opening, that might not even know they need your service in the first place. You need to show them that you feel their pain and that you are the one to bring the solution.
3. A resume is a list of ingredients.
Ingredients examples: speaking a language, knowing how to use a software tool, understanding accounting, etc. Solving a pain point example could be: providing accounting training to a local target group in their own language. Just an example. If a person or a company is experiencing this gap, if that’s their pain, they’re going to relate.
4. Think product. It’s a game changer.
Your expert service is like any other product. And you know products right? No matter in which industry and in which role you used to work, it was all about a certain product. From a bread in a bakery, over interior design, professional photography, to any knowledge that you have. Product. All of it.
You need: to find your niche, the pain point you can solve, your value proposition, your idea validation, your branding etc. If you are not sure about any of these, it’s easy to find info. As long as you remember that the general product principles apply to your expertise as well.
Going to networking events, talking to people, participating in forums and groups, can help you realize what is it that people are struggling with and that you can solve for them. Engaging with the community (online – like a FB group, and offline – like meetup.com) is important, and not only for getting direct leads for new clients. It’s also crucial to hear how people work, what issues they run into frequently and understand which are the pain points they come across.
Because it might be exactly you who’s going to solve it.
5. There is work “outside of work”.
Plan TIME for work “outside of work” (networking, learning, content creation etc.) and calculate it into your business plan (as the non-paid hours — but the hours that certainly do pay off:)).
6. Smart businesses already identify their pain points on their own.
When contracting an expert for their service, the businesses more and more use their pain point description instead of a formal role name. Instead of saying “we’re looking to hire an event manager”, they’d rather make a post in a marketplace saying something like “we are a concept store in need of help designing, organizing and promoting events”.
If a business experiencing difficulties with getting the events going, ending up in delays, no-shows, empty venue, lost time and money etc. sees a value proposition like “I design custom events for your community – from idea to the marketing and realization” — they’re gonna relate. It’s like a hungry person seeing a ready-made dish, one click away from being served to them on a fancy plate.
7. Expertise as a Service (Expertise on demand) is the future of work.
Full-time positions are less and less needed. There are more and more one-time (ex. provide copywrite material), part-time (ex. administrate emails and docs), on as-needed basis (ex. maintain website) contracts. Lean companies, operating with a high level of uncertainty, demand this kind of flexibility.
8. We are all both service providers and consumers.
I am a freelance consultant setting up software product development processes for tech startups. That’s the service I provide. On behalf of my clients, I contract experts providing services in the domain of design, programming etc. For my own needs, I contract services like editing of my promo video, creating my logo, preparing the slides for my talks etc.
The best part is: there is less and less of the traditional “employer – employee” relationship, and we rather collaborate as “equals”, exchanging our professional services. Instead of being told when and where to show up and what to do, a service provider is asked for a proposal, invited for collaboration etc. That already sounds more freedom-oriented, doesn’t it 🙂
9. It’s on you to adjust your services to the market needs.
Being an independent expert, it’s totally on you to adjust your services to the market needs (revise your value proposition from time to time) and also improve them (upgrade your product features) by lifelong learning, investing in courses, conferences, books.
10. You are NOT an employee.
Don’t sit down and wait for somebody to tell you what to do. Choose the services you want to offer, improve them, brand them, sell them. Be creative. Be proactive.
It’s you who is the expert, who’s gonna suggest to your clients how the things should be done. You’re the one making sure the amount of work and the organization of your work is as it suits the best in terms of your own productivity.
After all, it’s a win-win for everybody.
The moment you start looking at your expertise as your business, you realize how much of a game changer that is. The motivation boost happens naturally, as you feel you are working on your own thing. The inspiration and creativity follow, as there is no need to be reluctant about presenting your idea to the big boss.
Your tone when talking to the clients becomes more confident, as they are the ones who walked into your shop as opposed to being assigned to you as new accounts to manage. The levels of stress and tiredness decrease rapidly, as you organize your day by your standards. And the most magical part is that you are still doing what you’ve always been good at.
Just under YOUR terms this time around.
Tijana Momirov is a software engineer, product manager and founder of StartupSetup where she helps founders start their startups, all in a remote, agile and super lean way leveraging the gig economy. She’s been a full time nomad since 2010 and loves blogging and giving talks about nomadic lifestyle, managing remote teams, future of work, the gig economy, productized services and more. You can find Tijana at https://remotestartupsetup.com and also on Linkedin, Facebook, Medium and Instagram.