5 ways to grow your contractor business

The contracting market has had its ups and downs over the last few years, but many organisations still need flexible resource and therefore plenty of contracting opportunities abound.

As with most industries and markets, it’s survival of the fittest, so how can you make your contracting business into a lean, mean client-winning machine?

Here, exclusively for ContractorUK, and ahead of my webinar which you’re invited to on June 26th, I’m going to reveal 5 ways to grow your contractor business, writes Matt Craven, founder of The CV & Interview Advisors.

1. Build your channels

When the contracting market is buoyant, there are lots of opportunities available through recruitment agencies, and in years gone past, that has kept most contractors busy.

When the market deteriorates at times (such as when IR35 reform got its pernicious tentacles into things) contractors solely reliant on recruiters are at risk of experiencing a decline in opportunities.

Of course, having all your eggs in one basket has never been a good idea. Most businesses have multiple sales channels and that’s certainly an opportunity for many contractor businesses too.

My recommendation is to see recruiters as a solid sales channel, but I would also be looking at direct sales, LinkedIn outreach and social selling, networking, websites and SEO, CRM and email marketing. Oh and thought leadership too.

2. New revenue streams

In the same way that having just one sales channel might be a bad idea, having only one source of revenue could also be considered sub-optimal!

Most businesses have multiple products and services and any smart business operating in a declining market will look for diversification opportunities.

So, to contractor companies I say the following –

  • What are you diversifying into?
  • What additional revenue streams could you be exploiting that are related to your core contracting business?
  • Could you create an eBook or video guide on a topic that’s related to your expertise and sell it online? (N.B. Information products are a good, easy-ish place to start when trying to branch out)
  • Could others benefit from your experience in exchange for a fee?

(N.B. Coaching and mentoring are often overlooked. Membership and subscription to some offering of  yours, are also a possibility for entrepreneurial-minded contractors).

3. Repeat business and upselling

I remember talking to a few interim managers who felt that going back to previous clients was in some way ‘not-the-done-thing’.

I remember at the time thinking that no other business would ever think that repeat business was a bad thing and I still stand by that logic.

In most businesses, they spend as much of their time trying to get more business from existing clients as they do getting business from entirely new ones. Why not apply this to your contracting business?

Do you network while working for a client and spend time trying to identify other opportunities inside the same organisation?

Are you building relationships with key decision-makers while you are in their building and have the ability to meet face-to-face for a coffee and chat? Are you adding decision makers and client contacts to your LinkedIn profile, so you can keep in touch and be well-placed next time they kick off a project in your area of expertise?

4. Get wrapped

When we run webinars for contractors, one of my favourite presentation slides has a picture of a rusty old transit van with a seagull sat on the roof!

Next to it is an image of several tradesperson’s vans that have been wrapped / sign-written with logos, images, telephone numbers and web addresses.

We then ask the webinar attendees which one they see themselves as – the professional-looking business with professionally-created marketing assets (in their case a van), or the business driving around in a rusty old white van?!

We then draw parallels with their ‘marketing assets’ (for contractors, that’s a CV and LinkedIn profile) – are they akin to the rusty transit, or the wrapped van that has had a small investment in it to showcase a more professional brand?

5. Thought leadership

There’s a great book titled ‘They Ask You Answer’ by Marcus Sheridan that is all about using your expertise as ‘content’ to attract customers.

That’s the best way to explain thought leadership – it’s not mindlessly piping on about yourself; it’s answering your client’s questions, so they see you as the expert. If you can drip feed articles, blogs and videos in front of your target clients (LinkedIn is a good place to do this), they’ll see a much more positive professional footprint, view you as an expert, and will be more likely to engage with you.

You can then expand upon this to get involved in talks, webinars and podcasts, or anywhere where you can share your expertise with the right audience. Thought leadership can genuinely have a big impact on your ability to attract and engage with clients.

Lastly, join me on the 26th to help stay safe…

We mentioned at the top about reliant on recruitment agencies and why that’s a bad idea. There are also additional dangers lurking within the recruitment industry that contractors can fall foul to! So we’re running a webinar on the biggest recruitment scams that contractors too often fall for and how to avoid them on June 26th . Reserve your spot by registering here. https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4071431515656569694

Profile picture for user Matt Craven

Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Incredibly Linked. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
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