Service businesses can offer particular advantages that can be beneficial to new entrepreneurs. That’s what Jean-Michel Moreau and Vincent Quirion, co-founders of Ecovista, found out when they were trying to come up with a business idea.
As students, they wanted to start a business without taking on too many risks or incurring too much cost. After doing some research, they realized that service businesses are booming and that this market isn’t controlled by big players. They also noticed that competition is not as fierce there as in other industries since not everyone wants to get their hands dirty. These arguments convinced them to give it a try, and it is as co-owners of a thriving and innovative eco-friendly housekeeping business that they now share some advice to those who would like to follow in their footsteps.
Choose a high-potential market
The first step is choosing the market. There are many possibilities and, depending on the region, some can be more lucrative than others. To put all chances on your side and make the right choice, Jean-Michel and Vincent recommend looking at three elements: barriers to entry, competition and growth.
For new entrepreneurs, lack of knowledge can often slow down development. This is why it can be advantageous to choose a field that doesn’t require any particular know-how or uses abilities already acquired. It’s also significantly easier to carve out a niche in the market if said market is only populated by small businesses that haven’t necessarily optimized their marketing or management strategies. Avoid big players like Amazon or Google at all costs. But be careful: a market analysis is necessary to ensure the chosen industry is really growing and that the lack of competition isn’t simply due to market stagnation.
As for Vincent and Jean-Michel, they didn’t have to go very far to find their niche. Vincent was in need of a housekeeping service himself, but he was quickly realizing that companies in this field had not optimized their business model—offering a perfect opportunity to revitalize the industry.
Bet on tech
The pair thus contacted housekeeping businesses to better understand their challenges. They soon realized that these companies often incurred high operating costs due to their lack of computerization and their limited use of technology.
Thanks to their sound knowledge in management and administration, the two of them quickly noticed that payment and schedule management systems could be optimized with technology, allowing them to offer the same service as their competitors but with a smaller price tag. Furthermore, by combining the competition’s best practices in a comprehensive and optimized system, it’s then possible to replicate that system as needed, allowing the company to expand into other regions.
Gather appropriate knowledge
Be it podcasts on validating business ideas, motivation or entrepreneur self-esteem, or pre-incubation programs, there’s no shortage of resources on entrepreneurship and it’s very easy to get lost in it!
“If you try to prepare for every situation you can possibly face, you will be preparing for 10 years.” - Jean-Michel
First and foremost, Vincent and Jean-Michel recommend staying grounded. While podcasts on personal growth can be useful to maintain motivation, it’s important to strike a balance between business development and personal development. This is where enlisting a mentor or participating in a pre-incubation program — to benefit from the advice of entrepreneurs who have experienced something similar — can make a difference. In short, focus on information that can be put to immediate use according to the situation.
One last tip
Don’t go into a spending spree! The Ecovista pair suggests starting with a professional website, investing a few dollars to promote it on search engines or social media, and then focusing on the quality of the customer service. As Vincent says, “What’s nice about service businesses is that you don’t spend money before making it,” or very little!
Last year, Vincent and Jean-Michel took part in Cilex’s incubation program where they were able to further develop their business, and Ecovista won the Gatineau Chamber of Commerce award during the Startupfest tour in Gatineau. If you too have an idea for a service business and are looking for advice, check out our coaching programs or join us for a Sprint session!