How to make money while you sleep

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Productisation is a powerful strategy which can give you a low-risk way of scaling your business. This process involves turning skills you offer into a product, which clients can just pick off the shelf.

Your business can then generate income relatively independently, so you can essentially make money while you sleep.

Why productise your service?

Most sole traders or self-employed people start off with one big goal; get enough work to generate your target income.

When you have achieve this, there are a few options for scaling your business even further.

1. Increase your rates

Charge more for your services to increase your income. Be aware though, there will be a limit to how often, and by how much, you can increase your rates without losing customers.

2. Grow the business by taking on more staff

More staff means you can have more people serving clients per hour, theoretically generating more money for the business. This doesn’t come without risk though, especially if you have to outlay for things like salaries, equipment and larger premises while you are trying to gain more clients.

3. Productise your service

It may take some time to gain momentum, but productising is a relatively low-risk and low-cost way of scaling your business. At it’s root, it’s simply a way of structuring your offerings to make them more strictly defined and self-contained.

Actor and businessman, Sir Michael Caine convinced his good friend Vidal Sassoon to productise his offering in the 1950s.

“I told him that he must have something that is working for him while he slept. I told him he had to make hair care products,” Sir Michael Caine to the New York Times.

The strategy obviously worked extremely well for Vidal Sassoon – who launched globally successful hair care products, as well as opening training academies and even more salons worldwide.

The benefits of productisation

As well as there being no limits to how much money you can make, there are even more advantages of productisation.

  • You can launch a product really quickly.
  • You can automate the whole process with an online system for clients.
  • You don’t need to deal with clients, saving time in the long-run.
  • The product doesn’t rely on you as the business owner to make money.
  • You get paid straight away.
  • You’re building an income-generating asset that you could sell later down the line.

Robo-advice as a product: Large financial institutions like Natwest have productised their advisory service, through the use of robo-advice. Customers can now interact with an automated system to get investment advice. This works well because the system can generate pre-recorded advice based on financial information.
Read more on robo-advice here.

What could you productise?

There are a few things you can productise in any business in order to start making money while you sleep.

1. Productise your service

When prospects visit your website they really want to know two things – what you do and how much it costs. By turning your service into a product you could streamline, automate and outsource parts of the process which would allow you to scale.

2. Make resources for others

Share your knowledge on bookkeeping, accountancy by writing guides or books. These can be produced as PDF documents, or self-published to be downloaded from your website and other platforms like Amazon, for a fee.

3. Create courses

Think of it as a form of recorded, general consultancy. Pick a topic you know well, and put together a course which you can resell. It’ll be beneficial for your brand if this topic is related to your business, as it sets you up as an expert in the field.

4. Design your own software

Perhaps you have an idea for a new software product that could help people in your industry. There may be initial costs for outsourcing the actual software/creation, and long-term marketing, but you’ll have created something that potentially generates income without much interference.

Day Accountants of Cambridgeshire identified consultancy work as their most valuable service, so they automated what they could to allow more time for consultancy.

“The way accountancy is going, the compliance work is more and more looking after itself. The consultancy side is … a complete change in terms of what you can offer and that develops into longer-lasting relationships and less client turnover,” explains Julian Day, Director.

What services could you productise?

How to productise your service

Productised services are packaged up and sold like products. To turn your service offering into a product it will need to have these features:

  • a clear definition of exactly what the product is and the benefits
  • a fixed price
  • when it will be delivered.

When you have created your product you’ll need to work out where and how you are going to sell it. You’ll either need e-commerce functionality to sell it via your own website (or create an e-commerce website with a tool like Squarespace), or you can sell it via a third party website (like Amazon).

Don’t be scared to launch a ‘minimum viable product’ early so that you can test the process and improve it as you go. You’ll need to be prepared to dedicate time to the activities of creating and improving your products as well as promoting them.

Promoting your product

Hopefully, you created your product with a clear target market in mind. Now’s the time to tell those people about it, through marketing.

Build a network of people to help you shout about it (social media is great for this), create content about your new product for your website and consider using paid ads.

Read more on marketing tools you could use here.

Use your email database and work on growing this database. A good way to do this is by creating a free downloadable product and asking people if they’d like to sign up to your database when they download it.

In summary

If you’re stuck in a rut with your business and wondering how to grow further, productisation could be a great option. It’s a bit of marketing, and a bit of psychology, but should streamline the buying process for your clients so you make money while you sleep.

For more on growing your business:

Sophie Cross is the Editor of Freelancer Magazine and a freelance writer and marketer at Thoughtfully.

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