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  • You've identified a weakness which is similar for a lot of small business owners - you understand *your* business, but not necessarily where you can fit in to others.

    A few thoughts that I've had on reading your post:
    1. How is the schools IT market developing? With all UK schools transitioning into Multi Academy Trusts in the near future, I'd have thought that IT provision would be an obvious choice for centralised resource sharing and cost saving. You're also targeting a market which is not known for it's excessive budgets - do you have any other verticals in your client base?

    2. You'll have heard this before, but your network is the best source of referrals. Be the company that's an instant recommendation for IT problems. In the past year, all 40 of our new clients were referred to us by someone who already trusted us.

    3. Last year I did the Help To Grow Management scheme : https://smallbusinesscharter.org/help-to-grow-management
    Delivered by a local business school, including ongoing business mentoring, it's left me using a lot of what I used to call "bullshit management speak" but has been genuinely helpful and a big part in boosting our turnover and profits. It's 90% funded by the government - cost to you is £750.
    If that's not suitable for you, there are similar schemes run by local small business groups which might help you.

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  • A few more thoughts, having had a look at your website and also digested your post on IT pay here: https://community.spiceworks.com/topic/2350239-does-it-really-pay-well-or-is-that-just-myth

    I did IT support & consultancy for small local businesses for almost 15 years, but am now almost exclusively in an international compliance role.

    When I started, we were often part of a step-change in the way businesses operated. We weren't normally installing the first computers in the business, but we were frequently providing the first company-wide email service, the first networked accounting and business management systems, and the first shared internet access.

    These days, that's mostly commoditised. Providing email no longer involves tending to a capricious Exchange server, but just selling a monthly O365 subscription. Broadband is almost just another utility. It's no longer worthwhile to spend four hours carefully fixing and rebuilding a desktop PC when we can chuck a new one on the desk for a few hundred quid or just reinstall our Windows base image. The kind of personal-touch, friendly-IT-guy business isn't necessarily dead, but the market is considerably more limited.

    Growing out of that market as a single-person business is difficult.  On the basis that I'd rather work for 4 hours at £50ph than 8 hours at £25, I was consciously looking for higher-value work from clients happy to pay a good rate for a good job. We either needed to grow enough to have employees able to do the daily admin and support to free me for management schmoozing, or find a niche to specialise in. I've seen Salesforce consultancies, for example, happily charging and being paid a £500 daily rate for junior engineers.

    I think some time spend analysing your business model, seeing where the profit is, and planning how to maximise that might be useful.

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  • Our single best tool so far has been references from existing clients.  They know people who might need our services.  The give us a reference and open the door, we get a new client, the referrer gets a $$$ bonus for doing so.  Everybody wins.

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