Anything for a Buck

What would you do for a dollar?

This question was put to me the other day, and made me think about how a business grows. To answer the question, I started by looking at what I used to do for money and what I currently do for money.

I used to accept money for anything that occupied my time:

  • Write something for you? $20 per hour.
  • Tutoring? $35 per hour.
  • Teaching? $50 per hour.

I settled down. I have a full-time job. I do some consulting. I do some programming.

  • Review your online presence? $200.
  • Custom programming? $50 per hour.
  • Plan technology strategies? $75 per hour.

Is this a way to grow a business? Not really. If you look at what I’ve been doing over the last few years, I’ve been all over the map. I’ve charged a variety of fees over time. I’ve done a wide variety of tasks. I rarely turned down an offer for some work.

A business doesn’t advance that way. In a well-balanced business model, there are certain core aspects to what the business does. Everything else becomes secondary to that. When asked about what your business does, you should be able to state that in one or two sentences.

I help small businesses acquire appropriate technology so that the business can grow sustainably.

That’s not complicated. What might be complicated is how I do that.

  • I buy hardware and software
  • I write custom code
  • I build web applications
  • I help with marketing and branding
  • I establish social media outlets
  • I develop technology infrastructure

However, all those tasks are secondary to my clients. I don’t get hired to write a web application, but to solve a problem.

Perhaps the client needs a custom scheduling application to coordinate his 25 employees. I’ll look to see if there’s a solution already out there that I can buy. If not, I’ll arrange to have one built. Maybe I’ll build it myself. To my clients, that’s not relevant. What’s important is that when I’m done, they are able to coordinate their employees.

In your business, what defines your services? What value do you offer your clients? Are you accepting work to earn a buck, or are you accepting work to grow your business?