Growing a 7-Figure Business
I don’t think it’s news to entrepreneurs to know that in order to hit 7-figures, you need a product. The trick is how you get there.
We tend to romanticize the tech start up celebrities who lived off ramen noodles and alternately slept in their car or on their friend’s couch for two years in order to get their company up and running. So, it’s not a surprise to me when many new entrepreneurs think this is the way you build a big business. “Sure,” they tell themselves, “I could bootstrap a small company, but if I ever want it to be really big, I have to get funding and spend tons of time in product development.”
It’s sad because there are so many great examples of people who have built product companies without forgoing cash in the short-term. It turns out there is a formula, and when executed correctly, you can grow a 7-figure business and pay your rent. Heck, maybe even a mortgage.
The First P: Platform
Good 7-figure businesses are built on the authority of their founders. You, as the entrepreneur, need to develop a soapbox of sorts – the bigger and broader, the better. In an earlier post, I talk about the difference between expertise and authority.
Your soapbox should be focused on getting your voice out into the world. To do that, it will have to cut through a lot of noise. It will have to stand out and deliver value.
It used to be that a blog was all you needed to cut through the noise and get your message out. Now, a blog is not enough. You need to establish credibility and authority through other media.
What’s a good platform? Here are a few:
These media are now powerful platforms that allow your voice to stand apart from the rest. Choose one – or several – that you think will connect with your audience and highlight your personal skill set.
Once you successfully launch your own personal soapbox, you’ll be better positioned to build a faithful audience ready to listen to you and buy what you sell. In addition, that audience will be key in your product development efforts.
The Second P: Program
As Copyblogger founder Brian Clark’s own program name told us: Teaching Sells. Now that you’ve established credibility with your audience, they will want to learn from you.
This second P is so often missed by the traditional tech start-ups. But as I work with software companies even today, I tell them to go back and fill in this one gap.
Have a program you can offer your audience. It does two things. First, it solidifies your intellectual property by allowing you to test out your ideas on your audience. They buy what works; they don’t buy what doesn’t. Next second, it is a quick way to monetize the audience you’ve worked so hard to build.
There are several typical program formats. I want to review a few effective ones.
- You can easily put a training course together. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of going out and recording a bunch of static videos and rolling them out into a course. Don’t miss the great opportunity to interact with your audience more directly. Hold virtual or live training programs – at least initially. Teaching “in real time” will allow you to get valuable feedback from your audience. Your training will become more “on point” and actionable.
- Holding a virtual or live event is a great way to bring your audience together. The energy generated by an event is hard to replicate in other formats. Although quite a bit of work, the payoff for events is high. If necessary, curate content from other speakers or entrepreneurs in order to add value. Don’t hide behind the program; get in there and interact with your audience – either virtually or in-person – in order to learn what your perfect client really thinks.
- You may find that your audience wants a group format to lend support to their efforts. Whether for accountability, support, idea exchange, or social proof, groups are powerful ways of harnessing the cumulative power of your audience. The secret to having an effective group program is to have a clear format. If you meet weekly, have an agenda, and stick to it. If you have an online group, create special days or themes that reoccur in order to drive engagement. Entrepreneurs have been able to charge over $25,000 to participate in a group format, so don’t dismiss the monetization potential of a group that adds real value.
The Third P: Product
Finally, after building an audience to the appropriate size, it’s time for you to roll-out product. Whether software or technology platforms or just licensable intellectual property, a near-zero marginal cost product is the ticket to a scalable, 7-figure business.
As I mentioned earlier, the mistake most entrepreneurs make is to jump to product too quickly. Imagine how much easier it is to roll out a minimum viable product (MVP) when you already have an engaged audience who has shown their willingness to pay you for things.
Successful product companies are lean in the Eric Ries sense of the word. They identify a minimum set of features that deliver on one big result their audience is craving. Of course, it needs to be viable in the sense that the audience will pay. But since the two prior “P’s” were focused on the development and activation of that audience, you’re now in a better position to get the real feedback necessary to execute an MVP strategy.
Making It All Work
One skill critical to each of these three phases is the ability to build an audience of raving fans. You need it when you launch your platform. You need it while your deliver your programs. And you need it when you roll out your product. At each stage, your ability to enroll new prospects, get them to engage with you, and turn them into raving fans is critical to your success.
I teach entrepreneurs how to get raving fans in our, but I’ll give you the brief rundown here.
- First, to build an audience, you need to focus. You have to define the exact characteristics of your ideal customer and target. Many entrepreneurs try to cast a wide net in order to pick up more prospects, but this is self-defeating. By having a generic message intended to include everyone, you leave everyone with the mistaken notion that they’re not really included.
- Next, you need a solid offer. Development of a lead magnet and landing page you can send people to is critical. Collect email addresses and own the audience yourself. Don’t rely on other platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to build your audience. Sure, you can interact with them there, but own your own list and drive them to the platform you prefer.
- Third, you need an engagement strategy. Just because someone gives you their email address doesn’t make them a fan. You build “fandom” over time by delivering value and connecting with your audience. So far, the best way to do that is through email. Constructing a series of emails that tell a story and incite your audience to take action is the best way of converting a “subscriber” into a “fan.”
Finally, you need to drive traffic. There are four basic ways:
- Organic search engine optimization (SEO) to your website’s content
- Social media marketing including other viral techniques like guest blog posting.
- Paid advertising through Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other display ad networks.
- Individual outreach and networking.
I want to spend a moment on the fourth item. If you have a good landing page, you can drive traffic to it by personally inviting people you engage with online. If you’re active on social media or in online groups, there’s no more powerful way to start a relationship than by offering assistance then following up with your lead magnet – if it’s on point. You can easily connect with 10 people a day that way if you try. That’s almost 1000 new fans in 90 days right there.
Putting the Formula to Work
Now that you know the 3 P’s to 7-figures, it’s time to put it into practice. The first step is a platform.
Leave a comment below and tell us what your platform is. Do you have a book, podcast, webinar, speech, or broadcast you provide? Give us the link and introduce yourself.
Or maybe you’re working on it. Let us know below in the comments.
Make that step 1 towards your path to 7-figures.Share