When the Menu of Services for your Business is Lacking

A friend recently asked about how to develop her business, when all her prospective clients are requesting a service she does not offer. The service being requested is not, from the perspective of people who understand the industry, an assumed skill, and in this particular case, the friend does not have the skill, nor the desire to acquire it.

My friend asked me, since I’m in the same industry, what I might suggest for her. The truth is, from the description about, there are two possibilities for what’s going on, and each has a different approach.

The first possibility is that her prospects all require her services as well as the complementary service, and will generally only work with firms or freelancers who can provide both. The solution here is simple in concept, though execution can be tricky. Find another business which offers the complementary service, and start sub-contracting that portion of the work to them. In return, that business will send you work in a reciprocal agreement.

While you are unlikely to get an exclusive agreement like this, it can help bring in new business that you would otherwise have never seen, as well as enable you to close contracts that might have been lost.

However, there is another possibility, and it needs to be considered carefully. It is possible that the prospects she has been in discussion with are not her ideal clients. I’m often surprised by how many people in business do not understand who their perfect clients are, and spend great efforts pursuing the wrong types of clients. The perfect client is going to help your business grow in the direction you want it to go. If that client is asking you for something your business does not provide, and does not want to provide, then that is not an ideal client.

In this particular case, I believe the first answer is the better one. Many people in her industry either offer the complementary service themselves, or have a list of providers they use who can. When the menu is lacking, you have to choose to either supplement with an insert from another company, or redefine who and what your busienss is, and what services belong on the menu.