Three years ago, Chris was an employee at an online education company, and I was a full-time freelancer. At the time, we’d never made more than $150k per year in our businesses.
When you talk to people who’ve “made it,” you notice an interesting pattern:
None of them think they’ve actually “made it.”
And we’re no different. Our goals and our vision changes all the time. It’s fluid, constantly in motion, and constantly getting bigger.
However, looking back, there are some definite lessons that we can pull from our journey.
In fact, less than three months into the start our new business, Traffic & Funnels, we were generating well over six figures in monthly revenue, and that doesn’t happen by chance or on accident.
Here are a few takeaways that made a big difference. They might do the same for you.
Passion, Purpose, Fulfillment
You need to constantly orient yourself around why you’re doing this. Why do you want to grow a business? What does it actually do for you, tangibly? Intangibly?
I’m not being crass, but most people I see fall into two categories here:
- Those who want to build a business as big as they can because they’re really slaves to money and the approval of others—eventually, these businesses will topple because there’s no meaning behind them.
- Those who are energized by a strong “reason why” that will motivate them to push through when it gets tough, and even, at times, unbearable.
For Chris & I, we spend the first hour of every week and a full day every month revisiting why we’re doing this. And we ask ourselves questions like, “Do I feel fulfilled by what I’m doing right now?”, “Have I gotten off track from my main goal?”, “Is what I’m doing on a day-to-day congruent with where I want to end up 6 months, 12 months, 24 months down the road?”, “What am I most excited about in my business right now?”, “What am I not excited about in my business right now?”
I think fulfillment, for us, comes down to three key areas. I have these questions written down on a whiteboard behind my desk as a constant reminder:
- What do I need for the quality of life I want to live? This is money. You need to have revenue goals in your business to make sure your business is actually providing freedom for your life.
- What do I love to do and what am I good at doing? These are the activities that fulfill you. The things you’re gifted in—the things that you wake up looking forward to.
- What do I hate doing, regardless of whether I’m good at them or not?
And finally, these are the things you need to figure out how to get off your plate. Outsource, automate, or just eliminate entirely.
If you nail the first and the second, but are doing things you hate, you’ll miss out on truly having a passion and a purpose you can get behind in your business. If you nail the second and the third, but you’re not able to sustain a healthy lifestyle or provide for your family, ditto.
Chris and I are constantly tweaking and re-working these three areas. And sometimes you hit different plateaus in your business where these things switch around—the activities you used to enjoy doing are now stressing you out and you need to find a way to get rid of them.
A great way to master this area is to set aside blocks of time for it, consistently. For example, every morning, I set aside 30 minutes to go over my “morning formula” routine. There are a lot of different ways to do your morning routine, but for me, this works; and it is a great way to stay self-aware and effective.
Here’s a video of my “morning formula” process for creating these goals around my passion.
Fall In Love With the Problems
You’re a full-time, professional problem solver. That is a pretty accurate definition of an entrepreneur.
As I’m writing this right now, there are at least three things that are blowing up, and when my “allotted writing time” ends, I’ll need to go figure them out.
This does not mean you run around putting out fires all day… it means you become mentally calibrated to thinking up solutions to problems…
We say this a lot, “You gotta fall in love with the process.” Well, you also gotta fall in love with problem solving, or you’ll give up when the going gets tough.
Part of this ties back into having a really strong purpose. If your purpose isn’t grounded in something real, you’ll be much more tempted to ignore problems or just give up entirely when they show up.
Here’s the truth: the size & volume of your “problems” are directly correlated to the level of impact you’re making on the world. The more money you make, the more problems you’ll get to figure out.
The more people you serve and are able to help, the more problems you’ll have popping up everywhere. The stronger your influence becomes, the more people will hate on you. Relevancy brings problems. Totally worth it though.
When we started out, we went against the grain and chose to only offer one product. That product took us to $90k/mo in revenue in the first three months. Then we got adventurous and added one more product.
That product took us to $150k/mo in revenue after month five. Then we got bold and added another product. Our revenues took a massive dive.
If you look at any big company, they start with mastery in one area.
One of our favorite examples of this principle is Tesla Motors—learn more about Elon’s entrepreneurial lessons here. The very first car Tesla launched was the Tesla Roadster. One product. Very high priced. Tinker. Test. Tweak. Test. Until mastery…
Then add another product. The Model S—not quite as high priced. Tinker. Test. Tweak. Test. Until mastery.
We added a product too soon. We added it before we’d really mastered the previous product, and it cost us. It took too much bandwidth, too much money, too much time away from our other two projects that were already working.
Most of the time when we take new clients, we actually get them to stop doing up to 80% of what they were doing previously so that they can focus on the one or two key areas that are actually going to bring the momentum.
The less you do, the more control you’ll have.
What’s ironic is, at the time of writing this, we’re still in the process of mastering just those same two products! Over $300k/mo in revenue and we’re still being hyper disciplined to not add anything else until we’re at 100% mastery and can really afford to step away and add something new.
It doesn’t have to be super complicated to make a seven figure income today, especially if you’re good at what you do and can truly help people. The biggest problem you’ll face is overwhelm and getting split into a million different areas.
Too many people focus on success, and not enough people focus on the process. The result will never be more important than the process…
One of my favorite coaches, Nick Saben, says to his players:
Don’t focus on winning the ‘game.’ Focus on winning the ‘play.’ If you win the ‘play,’ those plays stack up, and you’ll win the ‘game.’
It’s so true… you have to win the day before you can win the week, month, year, etc. Here are three things to take away from this and start implementing in your business to get some traction:
- Invest in creating & knowing your vision/your purpose. I spend 30 minutes a day on this and my “document” outlines everything about who I want to be, what I want to feel like, and how much money/impact I want to have. You cannot substitute this kind of clarity with anything else.
- Set “process” goals, just like you do “outcome goals,” so that you fall in love with the process. Make sure all your goals aren’t just revenue. Set goals for the process, too—some call these ‘lead indicators’ because they set up & predict your results. For instance, I want to wake up at 5:30am every morning. I want to read 30 minutes every day. I want to read my goals every day first thing. These things add up so that when you face problems, you’ll have the processes lined up to deal with them effectively.
- Limit yourself to two to three main, yearly projects. We have three projects this year, and only three. Both Chris and I refuse to add anything else to our list until those three main things are accomplished. Fighting to keep things simple is hard, but worth it. Don’t budge on this.
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.