Do you want to launch a business that provides services for other businesses? Then business support services could be a good route for you. Corporate services of this kind offer opportunities in a wide range of industries and to succeed, it is essential that you understand the complex nature of this line of business. The potentials are limitless and the need for structure and focus is critical. Beyond the traditional administrative/secretarial style business center services, you can offer a wide range of services. The following list gives you an idea of how broad things could get but the key is to listen to your clients; they’ll let you know what they need, and then you can decide if you can provide it. Also, you could align your focus with virtual-assistance-type services that you can deliver freelance over the internet:
- Desktop publishing
- Spreadsheet design
- College papers and reports
- Managing databases
- Publishing electronic newsletters
- Planning events
- Internet marketing and social media
- Creating presentations
- Marketing support services
- Managing projects
- Product purchasing
- Telephone answering
- Customer support
- Website design and maintenance
- Social media marketing
- Word processing
- Writing, proofreading, and editing documents
The advantages to this business are that you can work at home, you get an insider’s view of lots of different businesses.The business is poised for growth and is known to be resilient in a recession. You’ll need top-notch secretarial skills and good knowledge of software and hardware that makes you efficient. You should also have good communication skills for dealing with a variety of different people, and the ability to decide which projects need immediate attention and which can be set aside for later.
One of the most appealing aspects of the business support services industry is its relatively low startup costs. You’ll need a computer system with a laser printer, a copier and a sharp selection of software packages. You’ll also want storage space for stationeries, each client’s letterhead and files for copies of clients’ ongoing work.
When it comes to the actual site of your business, you have two choices – home-based or a commercial location. A business support services company can be extremely successful in either venue; your decision will depend on your individual resources and goals. As you consider the issue of location, keep a few things in mind. Depending on the specific services you offer and market you target, you’ll possibly be dealing both with the general public, who will need access to your office, along with small-business owners and managers in larger corporations who may also want to visit your facility or have their employees or a messenger pick up and deliver work.
Marketing is an area where your creative side can shine. You could adopt both offline and online marketing channels. It’s easier to target people who are in the same area as yourself because you seem more tangible. You can establish a blog and use it to attract more clients from a distance. Don’t be discouraged if your marketing efforts don’t produce an immediate response. Put together a professional, attractive information package, they’ll keep the information on file and call you when they need you–or they’ll refer you to a colleague who may have the need. Do special research on how to structure your marketing operations – making plans for improving referral, advertising, and publicity. Partner with other businesses that have the same target market as you
Income & Billing
You have a number of options when it comes to deciding on your approach to pricing. Some operators simply call around, find out what other companies are charging and set their prices in that range. Others decide what they want to earn and set their prices based on that without regard to how it relates to the competition. Then there’s the issue of pricing by the project, the page or the hour. The best approach is a multifaceted one that considers the skill level of the work, your profit goals and the market. You need to set up a system that gives you a structure to work within so you can quote consistent, reasonable and fair rates.
Eventually, it may be a good idea to select one or more key market groups to target. There are a number of very valid reasons for choosing a well-defined market niche. By targeting a very specific market segment, you can tailor your service menu, marketing efforts and customer service system to meet that segment’s needs. You can refine your marketing efforts and gain a reputation within the industry for expertise in certain areas.
Above all, always keep an open mind – quick to learn trends and new imaginations in your line of business. Persistence and the determination to succeed are the most important skills you bring to the table.