By Chase Neely
So many posts promise that you can build a six-figure business and give you concrete steps and tactics to do so. This is not one of those posts.
I am not here to prove to you that my way is the guaranteed way to build a six-figure business, I just wanted to give you the steps I have taken over the last 6 years to grow my business to where it is today.
I know that some of these steps will resonate with you as you continue to grow your business and some will not. Take what works for you.
1. Find a Valuable Skill
You may think that I had it easy on this step just because I went to law school.
“Chase,” you might say, “how could you possibly identify with me as a graphic artist, life coach, or copywriter? Everyone pays top dollar for a lawyer!”
In a lot of ways, you’re absolutely correct. I started off with a skill that has inherent value, but the deeper message behind this point is so important, that I feel like it is worth sharing. So, stick with me if you don’t mind.
Many people say follow your passion in your fledgling business, and that’s true to a point (you have to like what you’re doing). Here’s the kicker: I don’t know that there is one true passion that each of us is given in life.
It’s not like God is up in heaven when you’re born sending you to earth with the one thing you have to do forever.
Don’t let your passion get in the way of an actual marketable idea. For me, I went through so many different ideas/client offerings before I ran across the couple that were actual money-makers.
Many of the failures were the things I was most passionate about in the moment. They didn’t work! So, instead of following your passion at all costs, find a valuable marketable skill/product (that you enjoy) and continue to optimize the way in which you sell or present it.
(Also, this should go without saying, but you have to be good at it. There is so much competition out there, that being good at what you do is the baseline requirement, not what separates the better from the best.)
Stuck on finding an idea? Here’s a quick tip: If someone is already making six figures a year doing what you want to do, you can too…
Link of interest: Mark Cuban on passion.
I imagine this section as that scene in Friends where they are trying to get a couch up the stairs to Ross’ new apartment (dating myself…). He screams out, “Pivot! PI-VOT!!” Ultimately, the couch can’t pivot, and they end up cutting the couch in half.
That inflexible couch learned a painful lesson that I think you can avoid.
You need to be willing to pivot in to what your market is responding to. Let me give you an example: I thought I had a genius idea for a service that everyone would need to buy. Then, I started trying to educate the target market on the idea. (Red flag #1: The target market didn’t even know they needed what I was offering!) When they understood me, nobody wanted what I was offering. I had to clean up the proposal and start fresh to get to a “yes” with the market.
Believe it or not, your first idea may not be your best, so hold on to the idea loosely. Test, test, and test. Find out what your market values and align your offering with their values.
3. Set Micro Goals
I always had in mind that I wanted my business to generate six figures each year. Always. The getting there was the hard part. Why? Because for so long, I knew what my ultimate goal was, but I didn’t know how to reverse engineer the steps to achieve the goal.
That all changed for me when I had my first ten thousand dollar month. I am no mathematician, but I realized that finding a way to consistently generate ten thousand dollar months would lead me to six figures a year. So, then, I made my goal ten thousand dollar months.
Break your goal into achievable bite-sized portions, and once you achieve those, you’ll be shocked how quickly the big goal comes into focus.
I’m not the first to say this.
4. Find Your Fans
It’s absolutely necessary for you to find a group of clients/customers who are going to be your biggest fans along the way. These people will be your greatest supporters and referral sources. Treat them well. Nurture the relationships. Understand that their willingness to share you with their friends is going to be a huge boost to your business.
In my business, word of mouth is everything, so having raving fans who have had good experiences with me is so much more important than treating each sale as a transaction where the client is a dollar sign instead of a person.
Now about these fans: Once you have them, the temptation will be to exploit them for your gain. Listen close, and I can’t stress this enough: It’s not about you. You need to cater to their needs, not because it will help you down the road, but because that is what you’ve promised them.
Treat them well because of the good it does for them, not because of the gain you can achieve. This step alone will allow you to build a sustainable business regardless of what your ultimate income goal is.
5. Find Your Coach
You’ll need a coach. I’ve had several. Some are close friends and confidants, others are online/remote. Books are also a great source for this. When you don’t know how to do something, ask someone who does. It will catapult you to grow faster than you can imagine.
This step can be expensive, but it is worth it. For example, I was puttering along in my business making solid money with a few raving fan clients. I was happy, but I wasn’t pushing myself any closer to my goal. I purchased a product that coached me in building my network. Within six months, I had nearly doubled the amount of revenue I was generating each month.
Can’t afford a coach? How about a book? Why not follow an influencer who is blogging in your space? What are they doing well that you suck at? What are they doing that you would never do?
6. Be Responsive
To everyone. To your family. To your spouse. To your clients. To your coach. Being responsive sets you apart. It sounds so easy, but you have no idea how much certainty this gives to your clients/customers. Attorneys are notoriously awful about this. Because of this, I’ve gained clients simply because I promised and delivered on responsiveness.
Don’t know where to start? My rule is to try and respond within 24-hours to every communication. It doesn’t have to be an answer. It can simply be an acknowledgment that you received their email. Set your own goal, but being responsive is critical.
7. Ask for Referrals
You have fans, now ask them for referrals. They know people who would be great fits for you, and you can make them look like a rockstar for recommending. But, you must ask. In my work, when I started asking for referrals, I was bombarded with good clients who needed help in my area of expertise.
You’ve probably already seen this in what you’re doing.
Think about it. Is there a group where you are the go-to editor or graphic designer? Now, imagine that there were two or three groups like that in your life. When you start to build that referral network, growth can happen exponentially.
The best system that I’ve read on this is here. I know that it is for lawyers, but use your imagination to apply it to your business.
8. Enjoy the Journey
It’s not a one-time, one-step process. This is going to take time.
It took me four years to grow to this point, but along the way I have had some truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences from lunches with bestselling authors to trackside seats at the Daytona 500 weekend.
You never know where the journey will take you, but you do know it will be a journey. Work hard and enjoy it.
What has worked for you? Did I miss any steps you’ve found important? Tell me in the comments.