How to Grow a Software Development Business: Shift to Premium Services

For 20 years, software developer Petras Surna owned and operated a business, building websites and technical business software. The projects were customized, complex, and required integration into specific business processes . Yet, in the past few years, business was slowly drying up. Software became easy for average consumers to install and upgrade; specialists were only called when the software failed spectacularly.

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“When things work for twenty years, you don’t understand why they stop working,” Petras said.  He’d had two employees in his business for ten years, but the decreased workload forced Petras to find jobs for them and take on all of his business’s work himself.  “I went from manager to running all trailing maintenance work. It was extremely stressful.” 

What people need from a software specialist now is different than it was in the 2000s. In order to stay valuable in the current era, Petras’s business had to find a new narrative.  

"Specializing" as a Software Development Business Plan

Overworked and unfocused, Petras even believed he might simply let his business go under, and enter the job market. This is a viable option, unless it is done out of desperation and without considering the other options available. When Petras learned to see his business in a whole new way, those options opened up for him.

From his lengthy list of skills, Petras found the one that created the most value for clients. To do that, he overcame the idea that his premium service was “too small” or “too specific.” When he first came to the program, Petras didn’t even know what a productized service was. Once Petras learned how to organize his premium service by milestones, he understood he had found his new business direction .

Now Petras is transitioning his work from jack-of-all-trades software consultant into e-commerce integration specialist. He already has multiple contracts. Why? Because he already did extensive e-commerce integration consulting, and did it well. Yet he hadn’t recognized it as a solution that could be systemized, divided into milestones, and offered as a premium service.

It looks as if the job market will have to do without Petras.

Find Premium Pricing Inside Your Specialty

Petras knew he was great at e-commerce integration, because he was doing so much of it.  It was hard work at which he excelled while not many others techs did.  Still, the topic of e-commerce integration seemed far too narrow to make it a speciality.  Believing that he had to offer all aspects of software tech consulting, Petras was unable to see his premium service for what it was.

Through the program, however, Petras learned:

  • People buy solutions to problems, and those solutions have milestones.
  • Without putting milestones into his solutions, Petras was actually running five or six businesses at once 
  • Once he worked through the process, the delivery milestones became clear...and clients LOVE clear deliverables.  

The insight Petras gained allowed him to view his business completely differently.  He understood that e-commerce integration, a huge part of what he did each day, could be systemized.  E-commerce integration was not over-specialized at all.  Petras simply hadn’t developed his consulting practice properly around this particular service.

It's Easier if You Follow a Structure

Petras favorite thing about the coaching program was the structure, which employs the very milestones he has found so useful in creating his own specialization.  During his coursework, Petras tackled the milestones assignments in order, as advised by his coach, even if at first it was unclear where the lesson would apply.  Each milestone would be assessed with clear responsiveness and client compassion before moving on to the next one.

"You Will Not Arrive at This Place Naturally"

Selecting one core service out of his many offerings was, at first, a difficult path for Petras to take.  He had many limiting beliefs, and too many other skills through which he could get work, to believe that he could isolate just one. For a paradigm shift to happen, he had to force himself “through the funnel,” to comply with the steps of the program.  Petras recalls that everything suddenly made sense in Module 3, and describes the experience as a “ding!” in his mind when everything fell into place.

"You Have to Be Ready for Change"

For the program to be really effective, Petras advises, you have to be ready and willing to change.  It’s a lot of work, and unless you are willing to commit, it will be a waste of your time.

Petras also warns not to expect a magic solution to all problems.  In fact, Petras expected the program to be much more prescriptive (“Do it this way, and you will succeed.”).  He expected there to be a standard list of instructions on handling prospects that he was meant to believe would work.  

But in Petras’s opinion, no one who has been in business for long will believe a solution until they have worked it themselves and seen the results.  He appreciated that the program made him work through the steps one by one, which provided clarity and proved the value in the series of systems.  

There is no “prescription” for how to do business.  Robotic phrasing and rote words are ineffective when dealing with prospective clients. Humans respond to a live, interactive communication, and the program emphasizes this in both theory and practice.  

“It's just that's how you learn. You have to do it yourself, solve problems, go through the pain,” remarked Petras.  People seek solutions to problems, and problems are painful.  Everyone can connect through that.

The Focus to Get the Projects You Want

Things are moving in a positive direction for Petras now. Currently, Petras is getting stable work from just building front end websites. More importantly his ability to attract e-commerce integration projects strengthens every day.

Petras is still in the process of learning and practicing, setting up his LinkedIn profile and getting his connections through that system. His focus now is to prioritize his current list of projects and continue to build a high-value network of prospects he can serve over the long-term.

With the knowledge he has gained, Petras’s will continue to transition his company ever more toward e-commerce integration work. This is what he does best and where he charges the highest premium. Armed with this knowledge, it is easier for Petras to say no to lower-paying, less specialized jobs, and also to understand why he can say “no” to them.


  1. Ravi Singh on April 2, 2024 at 5:44 am

    Great post. keep sharing with us.

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