My Business Blueprint for Would-Be Entrepreneurs and World-Changers.
(Warning: This is a 15-minute read)
All my years of hustling, learning, and self-development have led me to simplify my business down into a handful of essentials every would-be entrepreneur must know. No guarantees here, or shortcuts. Just a glimpse into how I turned my side-gig into my full-time profession.
Ask yourself one simple question:
When have you been the happiest in your life?
You were probably with people you loved, doing some enjoyable activity and making a difference in your little corner of the world.
What if you could wake up every day to that kind of life?
What if Mondays were the highlight of your week?
What if you could turn your unique talent, knowledge and skills into a profitable and sustainable business?
Well, my friend you can.
I've done it. And, so can you...
But, before I get into the details let me tell you a little bit about a savvy, young entrepreneur I know. Her name is Chance. And, she's kind of a badass.
Who is Chance?
Facebook and LinkedIn offered her jobs recently, but she turned them down. A few simple years ago she would have jumped at the opportunity to even be interviewed. Today it makes her smile to think that they want her now, but she's focused on just one thing: her business.
Chance is an entrepreneur, blogger and an all-around hustler. She is sought after by her peers for advice and her unique take on things, and she spends most of her time finding ways to add more value to her ever growing consultancy.
Chance is a product of her own grit, determination, street-smarts and a few hard-luck corporate jobs. She is obsessed with refining her craft, building her network and growing her little business. She's no longer wasting time, she's investing it.
And, she's cashing cheques on her talent. The first few were small, but recently they've grown enough to completely replace her old corporate salary a few times over.
Chance's journey hasn't been an overnight success. She's played the long game. You see, Chance has figured a few things out about being an entrepreneur...
Here they are:
- You have to know why you're unique and what you're fighting for.
- You have to be ruthless about cutting distractions and dead-end relationships out of your life.
- You have to find a group of people that need you - your tribe of true fans.
- You have to add value before you can monetise your brilliant idea.
- You have to surround yourself with the right people and let the haters hate.
All of this begs the question...
Where do you start?
An Entrepreneur Without Self-Awareness Is Like A Car Without A Steering Wheel In A Bad Storm With Bald Tires And Faulty Brakes...
The list of people calling themselves an 'entrepreneur' is getting longer and longer.
Truth be told, it sounds a lot better than 'contract-worker' or 'aspiring pixel wizard'. But, don't be fooled. If you're not generating sustainable income from your 'brilliant idea' yet, it's not totally your ideas' fault.
As they say on the golf course, 'It's the Indian, not the arrow'.
So, how do you stop playing the blame-game? You can start by going to work on yourself.
You see, I was right where you are...
Yearning for more than just the daily grind.
Longing to quit my day job and start my own business.
Scratching out a business plan with products that I could monetise that my clients would actually buy...
I hustled. Read. Took courses. Observed and absorbed as much as I could.
I went back to school and became certified in multiple tools - I invested everything I had in building my coaching business from the ground up.
I spent over $50,000 in my business the first 24 months. Over the last 8 years, I’ve invested tens of thousands more to scale it to where it is today. All while holding down a full-time job. And that’s just the money piece...
I failed a lot.
I hired and fired people.
I started. Stopped. And, started again. Rebranding and refining my offering around my strengths, gifts and expertise...
Until, finally figuring out what I needed to do...
I had to set myself apart as an expert with my own unique voice. To be unashamedly myself. Crystal clear about my why, playing to my strengths and the value I could add to my tribe.
If you don't know what you're great at, where your blindspots are and the problem that you hope to solve in the world, please please please don't quit your day job.
You'll be in for a world of hurt.
You can't skip past this part, no matter how great your idea is...
Figuring out who you are and what you care about is the foundation for building a sustainable side-gig.
Hire a coach. Take a course. Read 10 books on self-awareness. Heck, interview 10 friends.
But whatever you do, don't ignore this step of the process.
Especially understanding your weaknesses. You've been running from them and making excuses your whole life.
Ask for help.
If you don't, it will end up costing you everything in the end.
Without A Tribe, You're Simply A Crazy Person Alone In The Wilderness...
Victor Hugo is famous for saying:
'Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come'.
Thanks Uncle Vic, that's Instagram worthy.
But, context is everything.
And context is about understanding who it is that your brilliant idea is trying to help.
If your million dollar idea doesn't solve some kind of tangible problem or meet some type of psychological need for a specific group of people (your tribe), then it's just a great idea.
You're better off keeping it to yourself.
But, if it does then you've got something.
Specifically, you have an answer that people are willing to hand over their Visa Card and pay hard-earned cash for...
And, that my friends is good news.
These fine folks are called followers, fans and potential customers.
In his book Tribes, marketing guru and entrepreneur, Seth Godin believes 1,000 true fans is the sustainable number for your business. Godin says:
'The members of your tribe are your true fans (someone in the tribe who cares deeply about you and your work). 1000 fans form a tribe. This person connects with other true fans and amplifies the noise made by your art, your ideas. They carry a commitment for the cause. Key for the leader is turning casual fans into true ones. Fans look for generosity and bravery in their leader. Time and genuine investment should strengthen the relationships with fans (your tribe).'
In order to find your tribe you have to commit to a path and stick to it.
You see, it's not enough to gain followers. You have to be polarising. You have to find your own voice. And, you cannot take the middle road. It doesn't work.
In business this is called a UVP (unique value proposition). Your UVP is exactly what makes you unique or different from your competitors. When your uniqueness aligns with your tribes motivations, you have something you can monetise.
It’s the thing that makes you stand out in your tribes' hearts and minds. It’s what keeps them coming back to you, and not someone else.
Every potential fan, follower, customer and client is constantly asking, 'What's in it for me?' You have to be able to answer this with clarity, honesty and generosity.
So, don't be boring.
Don't be average.
And, definitely don't play it safe.
Your best bet in building your tribe is to be uniquely yourself and unafraid of upsetting a few people along the way.
You have to be intentional. Period.
I recently unsubscribed over 16,000 people from my list. Crazy right? I don't think so.
Why did I do it?
To get to my real tribe...
The people who actually believe in what I'm creating and who value me for me.
I now have roughly 1700 true followers/fans in my tribe and a top 300 that I take extra special care of.
Building a business is not about quantity, it's about quality.
So, forget about attracting 1 million followers, and focus on the people who value you, then become a hero to them.
Everything else is just noise.
Stick to your message...
Take care of your tribe...
And, keep offering value. Every single day.
No One Cares What You're Selling, But They Do Care About How You Can Help Them...
My friend Vince Gabriel is a successful fitness entrepreneur, business coach and all-around great human being. He gave me one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received:
'You get paid for the value you add'.
Yet, so hard to believe let alone practice. Especially if you're just starting out.
So the goal for any would-be entrepreneur out there is to add real value. And, let the money take care of itself. This is one of the hardest things to get your head and your heart around when you're first starting out.
So, what are you worth?
Better yet, what's an hour of your time worth?
If you don't know this you should. Right down to the last shiny 5 cent piece.
The simple math is to take your salary and divide it by 220 days, then again by 8 hours.
That's your hourly.
For example, if you make $100,000 and you divide it by 220 (days) you get $454/day. You then divide that by 8 (hours) and you have what your hour is worth: $56.82.
That's roughly $1 a minute.
This is sobering.
Again, you can charge more when you're adding more value...
There are only two ways to get paid when you're starting out:
- For your time.
- For a product.
The hard truth is that it's extremely difficult to get paid for both. So you have to choose which route is the best way to go for what you're offering.
Whichever path you choose, ask yourself these questions:
- What pain point are you solving for your tribe?
- What need does your expertise address?
- Why is this important to your tribe?
- How do you actually solve their problem or meet their need?
- Where's your proof?
- Why you?
The above six questions are all about value. Plain and simple.
When you can answer these questions with confidence, you can actually charge for your time or product/service. If you can't don't lose heart. You just need to do more work on developing yourself or your idea.
All business is about relationships. People don't buy products, services or the latest gadget. Nope. People buy people. You can't fake this. And, you definitely have to believe in yourself and what you're selling.
This all comes back to confidence.
In the Latin, confidence literally means 'to trust within'.
If you don't believe in yourself, who else can? You can't be afraid to back yourself. To put yourself out there. And, to build real meaningful connections where you're adding value without expecting anything in return.
Undoubtedly, not every one you meet will be a potential customer. That's okay, because some will be.
Your goal is to focus on developing who you are and what you have to offer. And then sharing your message with the world.
The best way to share your message is to pick a medium that you're best at and offering real value for free at first. I recommend a few of the following:
- Blog Posts (Purchase a website on Squarespace or check out Medium and let your tribe hear your voice)
- Vlogs (YouTube/Instagram/Facebook/Vimeo all have great free platforms to get started)
- Articles (This is your blog on steroids...and it allows you to go deep on a subject you're an expert in)
- Case Studies (This is the social proof of your idea working in the real world)
- Newsletters (An old school approach that you can quickly start a free or monetised subscription from)
- eBooks (Again, a great way to showcase your expertise to your tribe)
- Podcasts (Don't start one. It's oversaturated. Instead try to be featured on them)
If you're great at writing then write. And, if you're great on the camera, then go down that route. Just, stay in your lane.
Average won't cut it. So play to your strengths...
If you're not sure what your best medium is then create content in your preferred communication channel and ask 10 people to take a look and give their honest opinions.
Your whole goal is to clarify your offering by creating great content to attract and educate your tribe by showing them why they should follow you.
Content is king.
Let The Haters Hate, Then Thank Them...
Your critics are your best teachers.
Your message and what you're setting out to create is not for everyone. People-pleasing is a sure way to shipwreck your brilliant idea before it even has a chance to get started.
You have to surround yourself with the right people and be okay when they react negatively.
That doesn't mean you have to be an asshole or jerk when you get rejected. You should actually do the opposite.
Thank your haters (they can't stand it when you're nice...it confuses the hell out of them). They are giving you priceless feedback by letting you know you're on the right path and which one's to avoid.
When you take a stance everyone will not agree with you, but a handful will...your tribe.
Your willingness to be unpopular, disliked and even hated at times is a sure sign that you're clarifying who you are and what your message is...
The good news is when a group of people are against you, then the opposite holds true too...you also have a group of people who are for you.
One of the exercises that I share with my entrepreneurial clients is a simple tool that I call, The Sphere of Influence ---
There's the Noisy Crowd, this is the land where most people live. Your goal is to ignore them as much as possible. You may already have wasted a lot of time jumping up and down trying to get attention from this mob. As you've found out, it's not worth it. They're too busy to care, and too preoccupied to pay attention.
Then you have Your Industry (you might operate across multiple) and you should participate and add value here, while differentiating who you are and what you're on about. These are your peers, your competition and your potential collaborators. Trying to win their approval is a waste of time. Instead, do your thing and connect with like-minded voices.
People you should pay special attention to are Your Community. These are potential True Fans. They interact with your message and sometimes let other people know what you're up to. You'll want to invest a little bit of time here. But, not too much. They'll notice you when they're ready. Be patient.
Finally, the most important group are your True Fans. As previously mentioned, these are the people that you're fighting for and trying to help. Everything you do (every article, post, product, webinar, etc) is for this group of special people. They love you and what you're about. And, they actively tell other people how much you and your work has impacted their lives.
I find a lot of would-be entrepreneurs and world-changers get confused about which group they're actually trying to help. Again, trying to solve everyone's problem is a sure way to fail.
Especially about how you're investing your time.
Stop procrastinating and giving your best trying to please everyone else...
Don't waste another minute chasing 'likes', 'shares' or 'upvotes'.
Create from your heart and stay on message. That's where your genius is buried. Sell everything you've got and invest in exploring the depths of your own story. If you have the courage to come back and tell the rest of us what you've found, it'll change everything.
Focus on your tribe. Become a hero to them. Add value to their lives every single day. Whatever you write, write for them. Whatever product you create make for damn sure it helps them. Don't sugarcoat it, or try to get too fancy. Stick to the basics.
At the end of the day, your tribe is your why...they are who need you, and who you need.
If you're reading this and you're thinking to yourself, '...this is all great, Steve, but I need some help with a specific challenge...'
If that's you, then I'd love to hop on a free 15 minute call with you and talk through what you're facing.
Please book in using the link below...