When starting your first business, you may wonder, should you offer a product or service? Both have their pros and cons, and neither option is right for everyone.
Consider why you may want to sell a product and why you may want to offer a service. That way, you can decide which works best for you.
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Benefits of Selling a Product
Offering a product over a service will give you a few benefits.
Physical and Digital Options
In the past, you could really only sell physical products in your business. But the internet has made it possible to offer digital products too.
For musicians, this could include sheet music, method books, and other instructional materials. You create your product, upload it, and list it for sale.
Even if you sell a physical product, you can outsource the manufacturing. That way, you aren’t spending all of your time creating the thing, so you can spend more time on marketing.
Not as Time-Based
If you offer a service, you have to spend the time doing that service. Sure, you can hire sub-contractors who can also work with your clients.
But you’ll still have to spend time on some of those projects. If you have other obligations, that can be difficult.
Meanwhile, a product-based business can be a better option for busy musicians. You can outsource more of the production or use digital products which don’t require constant manufacturing.
Can Grow Your Product Line
After you establish yourself and your first product, you can add more. A good example of this in the music world is the company behind Win-D-Fender.
They started with the product that keeps wind from affecting your flute playing. And since then, they’ve also made items like the Picc-Pocket and the EnDefender.
As you add new products to your business, you can make more money. You’ll get more repeat business and attract new customers who may not be interested in your first product.
Benefits of Selling a Service
When deciding to offer a product or service, consider why you may want to start with client work.
Minimal Upfront Costs
If you want to sell a service, you don’t have to pay as much to get started. You may need things like a new computer or other tools for your service (such as sheet music for teachers or repair supplies for techs).
However, these costs pale in comparison to the cost to launch a physical product. In that case, you’d need to pay to manufacture a bunch of units.
And even then, there’s no guarantee the items will sell. So if you’re on a budget, it may make more financial sense to start as a service provider.
Along with fewer costs, service businesses may see profitability earlier on. You’ll start making money as soon as you get your first client.
Meanwhile, it may take a lot of sales to reach profitability with a physical product. And even a digital product may not become profitable right away.
So if you’re looking to make more money sooner, offer a service. You can always add a product later once you have the means and time.
One of the benefits of offering a service is that you don’t have to work in person. You can find a service that you like doing that allows you to work from home.
The events of 2020 showed us you can do almost anything remotely. I’ve taught online flute lessons, done composition commissions, and even offered remote recording services.
So whether you live in a small town or just don’t want to drive around town, you can find a service to offer from the comfort of your own home.
Can You Offer a Product and a Service?
You can offer a product and a service in your business. However, you should start with one to keep things simple for you.
That way, you can focus on marketing that one thing and get really good at it. So decide whether you want to offer a product or service first, and add the other one later.
Should you offer a product or service? Only you can decide, but it helps to consider the benefits of each type of business.
Some musicians are super successful selling services, like lessons and performing. But other musicians may find success in creating and selling a product.
If you can’t decide, sign up below to receive my free Music Business Plan!