Millions of people are launching service businesses around the world today. While the whole concept relies on a very niche concept in the service industry, millions of service businesses launch every year.We had a chance to talk to the Founder of WorkWeek, Travis Dunn, about the company and what the vision is for the industry. A quick summary is that a lot of things go into setting a service business up and Workweek wants to be the centre of setup for every new entrepreneur founding a company in this space. Catch our discussion below.
As we get down to our conversation with Travis Dunn, there is always a motive for any business idea. For Workweek, it all stemmed from a need that the founders saw existed after seeing it within their close circle.
“WorkWeek was started to fill a void that we saw in service industry software. We had friends and family members asking us to recommend an app or software for running their small service businesses and we didn’t have a good answer for them,” says Travis. “There are really three categories of software that currently exist for the market: accounting software like Quickbooks and Xero, fleet management software like Jobber, and website software like Squarespace. Our customers would need to use a few features from each of them to really get the full set of features they need, and that’s why we created WorkWeek.”
For a business owner, running a service company can be quite hectic when you have to juggle around from one platform to another. It is a brain drain. The all-under-one-roof business model is not new.
“eBay, Etsy, and Shopify did a lot to make it easy for small businesses that wanted to sell products, and we saw an opportunity to do something similar for the small businesses out there that sell services,” Travis remarks.
ADVANTAGES OF WORKWEEK
We see a lot of service businesses starting off from TaskRabbit and Craigslist. The main interrogative question is whether these platforms are catered for the service business model. “WorkWeek focuses on being an all-in-one toolset for small service businesses. The fact that so many of these small businesses are starting out on TaskRabbit and Craigslist, we think, shows the need for a tool like WorkWeek. Those tools are all basically lead generation platforms. They don’t give you a website, or ways to schedule work that comes in from the outside of those platforms. They handle a single aspect of what it means to run a business,” he says.
Like most small businesses, you have to start from somewhere. It is a fact that most service businesses starting out from these various platforms are not using these platforms for the long-term. Eventually, they have to grow out of them. Travis continues, “We see a lot of customers “graduating” off of those platforms as their work picks up and they decide to take their business to the next level. They often begin to run into new problems like scheduling jobs, tracking and reporting on the progress of their business, getting paid reliably and quickly, and maintaining relationships with past customers to generate new work.”
MISCONCEPTIONS OF THE FREELANCE INDUSTRY
In the current age, people are starting out in business, launching services, and working from home or in the non-conventional office space. In fact, it is being called a revolution – because of the rate at which companies and individuals are choosing freelance over employment. Workweek is growing itself to become a home for this revolution.
“We think we’re making running a service business simple for a customer base that really responds to simplicity. Most business software is complicated and that’s one of the biggest challenges we face with our product. We try to only add features that are necessary and provide true value. We’re looking to demystify what it means to run a simple service business, as well as educate our users on best practices to help them build, run, and grow their businesses,” says the founder.
As many service businesses continue to crop up, there is belief in the space. However, doubts are cast upon anything at all. “I think one of the biggest misconceptions is these businesses aren’t worth targeting. A lot of our competitors don’t really target the micro business segment,” Travis notes. “In the service industries that we target there are 2.5 million small businesses, but there are 12.2 million micro businesses – that’s a big opportunity. It’s also a lot more satisfying for us to work with the little guys, we really get to see how much of a difference it makes for these people and that keeps us motivated.”
The Workweek team was never always focused on service businesses. As you collect the team together, there is obviously a lot of shift in terms of ideologies, philosophies, culture, working routines, and roles. Travis is quick to observe of this difference in scope, but he says they were never really far off the industry before launching Workweek. “Our founder team is mostly developer driven, and the products we launched in the past have been developer or prosumer focused tools. It felt natural for us to market to, talk about, and engage with that audience. The industries and users that we target now are entirely different. How we communicate on our website, how we market, how we design and build features, all of that is a whole different world to us.”
He continues, “We’ve mainly adjusted in the language we choose and being extra cautious with feature development. Simple language, simple software. It’s been a fun challenge and we’ve certainly been reaching back into our past when our first jobs were painting houses and working on air conditioners.”
DIFFERENCE FROM COMPETITION
Startups need to focus on the unique aspects of their businesses. In every market, you will never be the first to launch or provide a service in that space. Workweek differentiates itself in the all-under-one-roof business model. But is there more?
“WorkWeek is simple business management software. We offer job scheduling, estimating, invoicing, and our customers can accept credit card payments both onsite with their phones or online,” says the founder.
“Our customers also get a professional looking business website that stays up-to-date as they do their jobs. We automatically ask for job feedback on behalf of our users, and as that feedback comes in, our users have the option to feature it on the website with a single click. Their website also connects with Instagram and Facebook to bring in social media content which helps show/sell their work, as well as connect potential customers back to those profiles.”
In the spirit of continued innovation which is the one important way to keep a business customer-focused, Workweek has been improving on its initial features. “We’ve also been working hard to make reporting and business metrics easily consumable and more importantly understandable. Our business section shows invoicing trends and where customers come from, so our users can determine their return on any marketing or advertising efforts they’ve tried. We also have business generation features like email marketing campaigns that allow you to target customers that you’ve performed certain services for, etc.”
“We differ in that we’re focused on just the features that the freelance or micro businesses need, and we’re doing it in one tool instead of asking users to use multiple apps, remember multiple passwords, connect data from multiple accounts, and more importantly only pay a single fee for the features they really need.”
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
If you don’t plan, you fail. Startups operate on well laid plans that drive growth and customer acquisition. For Workweek, it is secret sauce as Travis notes, “We’re currently working on something we’re really excited about. We don’t have an official name for it yet, but internally we’re calling it the business starter kit. It’ll include logo and brand design, business cards, t-shirts, our interactive getting started guide, and a prepaid subscription to WorkWeek.”
Launching a service business is not as straightforward. Workweek wants to help new businesses get a footing and avoid mistakes that can be very costly. While it is great to evade the long curve of trying and failing earlier on, the founder insists it is also about professionalism on launch. “It’s a great opportunity for us to help those early business owners get up and running and have a professional looking brand and business all with the click of a button.”
As we conclude our chat, Travis remarks, “Typically business owners need to find and pay for all of these things separately and through separate vendors. All of that takes time, and there’s a lot of potential for a mistake to be made in the ordering or design process that can cost even more time and money. We think we can help and truly offer those just starting out a “business in a box”.”