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Assessing Client Needs for Business Growth – The Smart Way!

We don’t do much of the “fill out this form”, “how did we do today?”, or “rate our services online” stuff for my businesses.  We usually go for more of a personal touch.  When we ask for feedback, it’s more direct through emails or phone calls with clients.  So, how do you gather that feedback as data to assess client needs and the future of your business?

Today I want to talk about those changing needs and determining direction.

crunching numbers business accounting

1. The Numbers Don’t Lie

Track your expenses and income.  Hire an accountant if you’re not great with numbers and/or don’t have the time yourself.  And don’t forget about that bottom line.  If you’re spending too much on a service or offering, and people aren’t paying enough for it (or not enough people are interested in it), then you know something’s wrong.  Maybe you can cut some of your expenses and rebuild that offering in a way that makes sense financially.  Or, hey, maybe that offering is done and it’s time to move on to something else.  I know I’m painting this as very black and white, but it really does help to take a step back, look at the numbers, and determine whether an offering is worth it based on the revenue (or lack of revenue) that it’s bringing in.

One of the tricky parts here is timing.  I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on this in the comments as well.  Personally, we track and review numbers across all teams weekly.  If something is outside of the safe zone, we talk about it in our weekly business meeting.  If that continues for a few weeks, we talk more seriously about it.  If a few months go by and we’re clearly wasting our time and resources, it’s time to make a drastic change.

Obviously I can’t share our spreadsheets here, but you’ll need to create a document with your own financial goals in mind that can be updated on a weekly basis.  Include sales and analytics as needed for your business.

So that’s one objective way to see whether your service/offering or product is working for your clients.  But how do we see it coming before wasting that time and those resources?

2. Create Products/Services Based on Repeated ‘Custom’ Client Requests

I can use Content Refined as an example here.  Content Refined is primarily a content marketing company that works on a monthly subscription-based content creation cycle.  Madeleine, our Co-Founder and Business Manager, was finding that she was getting a lot of “custom” requests for upgrades to existing content on clients’ websites.  These clients had content already on their site that they needed someone to go through, clean up, and ‘refresh’ to help it rank higher.  So, that request came in enough times that Maddie thought, “Hey, we need to make this a real offering, not just a special custom thing we do when people ask for it.”

We figured out our pricing needs and built the system around ‘content upgrades’.  Now it’s front and centre on the home page of Content Refined’s site.

Word of warning: you do have to take all requests with a grain of salt.  There’s a fine line between being flexible and bending over backwards.  Custom requests only work if the numbers work.  So you have to be careful at how far you bend your standards to meet client needs.

Which brings me to my next point.

 

assessing business needs

3. Dominate Your Field Before Expanding Out

It’s extremely difficult to expand out to new service offerings when you’re still working on mastering the original one.  Until you’ve got a great system worked out for your business and you’re handling everything on your plate really well, don’t try to start something new.  Pretty reasonable, right?

To be a master in your field, you’ve gotta stay on top of the trends and news in your industry, and really do your research.  Especially in the digital world, things are moving so quickly that it’s hard to stay relevant.  Check out what’s going on in conferences, and get in the networks with the top players in your field.  This way you can figure out what you should be offering before your clients are even looking for it.

To continue with our example of Content Refined, we constantly look at trends in the content marketing world.  With anything SEO related, you really have to look at the data and figure out which tools and methods are the most effective.  Last year around this time we did all kinds of data analysis on all the content that we had created for clients.  Then we had a statistician go through everything to confirm our findings.  Right now we’re in the process of going through everything again to renew those findings and update any strategies as necessary based on the results.  By continuing to evaluate our business with the actual data, we’re able to stay focused in our field while maintaining great results for our clients.

Final Thoughts

Assessing client needs is super important to keeping your business relevant and growing.  It can take your business in new directions that you may have never foreseen.  Have you had experience with something like that?  Leave me your stories in the comments!

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

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