I’ve been borderline obsessed with business podcasts for the past year or so. My two favorites are The Tropical MBA and The Critical Path. One of these days I’ll do a write up on these podcasts and maybe a couple others.
Today I want to pick up on one of the themes that the guys at Tropical MBA have really been focusing in on recently – productized services. If you run any sort of service business at all, regardless of scale, do yourself a favor and check out their series on the subject. They’ve done five or six great shows on the topic, attacking it from all angles.
It’s a subject that’s close to my heart because I see a lot of fledgling service businesses out there floundering at exactly the point where they should be looking to productize. In many cases, these aren’t really businesses at all yet, they’re little more than glorified jobs.
That point where a service provider hits a wall and realizes they need to scale is a fascinating business inflection point. Far too many don’t make it through. As is so often the case, the information is out there. People just haven’t accessed it or in some cases simply refuse to take action. They get hit by that rabbit in the headlights effect and try to ride it out rather than change their game.
New York and its environs are a perfect laboratory for observing this phenomenon. There’s always been enough cash floating around this fine city to get a high ticket-value services offering off the ground if you have the chops to deliver on what you’re promising. That’s the beauty of being in a big city. The market is right there in front of you.
I’ve lost count over the years though of the amount of promising young entrepreneurs in the services arena who just couldn’t take it to the next level. Most ended up slinking back to corporate America with their tails between their legs. Some, tragically, flamed out entirely. Failing to productize was the common mistake more often than not.
It’s a topic I’ll return to in the future with some tips on how to do it right based on what I’ve observed over the years: the good, the bad and the ugly! In the meantime, if you’re in that game, or just have a general interest in the endless shape and variety of business lifecycles, start delving into the topic with that podcast series. It’s an area that rewards close study.
And if you have some personal experience with the transition, or are facing into it soon, get in touch in the comments below and share your story.