Over the last 10 years, there has been a steady rise in the number of people pursuing freelance careers – often in vocations such as personal training, beauty therapy and driving instructing. The majority of these roles are usually defined as the selling of ‘time-based services.’
Whilst the reasons for growth in this type of business model are certain to be varied and complex, it may be due to changing workplace attitudes. Many people now want a career that allows them to prioritise what is important to them, such as having flexible working hours.
One aspect of this growing interest in vocational options is people turning a hobby or personal interest into a business. This is perhaps not surprising, given that half of UK residents would turn their hobby into a career if given the opportunity.
However, if individuals wish to make a success of this type of career and run a successful business in their chosen field, they’ll require more than just core sector knowledge and good intentions. Indeed, people need to marry this expertise with a range of business skills to engage clients and get the just rewards from their passion – something which is often lacking.
This is of vital importance in today’s increasingly crowded marketplace, whereby competition is fierce. Indeed, research shows that one of the main reasons for business’s failure is lack of differentiation and insufficient ‘know how.’
So, how can would-be entrepreneurs and scale-ups address the issue of a lack of business skills and funding, and ensure their training and tools are up to scratch?
Business skills explained
It sounds obvious but, before entrepreneurs can bolster their business skills, they need to identify where skills gaps are. Opinions vary around which competencies are most valuable, but when selling time-based services, the below are fundamental:
- Finance management – the ability to effectively manage finances is critical. Business founders need to be able to forecast cash flow and sales, as well as monitor profit and loss.
- Marketing – establishing a business is one thing, making sure people know about it is another. Given increasing competition across a variety of industries, establishing an effective marketing strategy needs to be a priority, as this will help a business stand out and generate sales.
- Project management – running a business tends to involve juggling a variety of clients and tasks. Therefore, knowing how to effectively manage resources, including time and money will help to achieve overall company goals.
- Communication – effective written and verbal communication skills help build good working relationships, so they are invaluable.
Mastering the above will create a solid foundation for any business – however, this is easier said than done.
Education is key
To help grow these skills, entrepreneurs could look to enroll in a business course which offers practical skills that can be easily applied to their time-based business. Each will differ slightly in terms of content and pricing, so it is important to shop around and find one that works best for them.
E-learning courses, such as Future Learn’s free ‘Fundamental Business’ courses, are good because users can access learning materials anywhere at any time. This means business owners can organise studying around their schedule and minimise disruption to the day-to-day running of their business.
Another option is fibodo’s ‘Grow Your Business’ course which focuses on teaching and inspiring those who want to sell time-based services on best business practice, as well as how to operate effectively online and develop successful careers.
Make the most of what’s already available
There are a number of key business processes that are specifically relevant to time-based business, from managing client bookings to processing payments and marketing via social media, that can be easily streamlined through technology.
When selling time-based services, efficiency is key, so tools that can reduce hours spent on admin are a great way of maximising productivity – and allow business owners to do what they do best.
fibodo, for example, is a platform specifically for time-based businesses that enables owners to manage a variety of tasks – from client bookings to marketing opportunities. As a result, the software helps increase bookings, reduce cancellations and admin time, and reach new audiences.
PlanGuru, on the other hand, is a tool that integrates with accounting platforms to provide users with both current cash-flow data and forecasting. Therefore, entrepreneurs that adopt this software no longer need to waste their time managing this often-complex aspect of a business.
When selecting a business management platform, founders need to ensure they choose one that is relevant to their individual needs. Asking questions such as ‘is it easy for me to use?’, ‘does it do what I need it to do?’, ‘and does it improve my customers’ experience?’ will help with the process of choosing which is right for that business in particular.
Whether an individual is about to start a new venture or has been running one for many years and lacks the expertise required to scale, developing a set of essential business skills is a must. This is what takes a company to the next level.
If entrepreneurs can inject the same level of passion into running their business as they do with their key vocational offering, they can expect their company’s future performance to bloom as a result.
Anthony Franklin is the Founder & CEO of fibodo.