How to Build an Insanely Profitable One-Person Business
As a small business owner, if you’re like me, you want to know how some truly successful businesses got to where they are today. This is what brought me to the event called: “How to Build an Insanely Profitable One-Person Business” here in Toronto a few days ago. I want to share with you some awesome insight and soundbites that can help you (and I) build our businesses.
Plus, two of the four panellists are in the health & wellness industry, so there’s that!
This event was sponsored by Freshbooks and was moderated by Elaine Pofeldt — a veteran journalist, author of The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business (aff link), and contributor to publications such as Fortune, Money, Inc., Entrepreneur, Fast Company and Forbes. She interviewed four Toronto-based entrepreneurs who broke $1 million in revenue in a one-person business or partnership.
The best takeaways from the four panelists
Author, speaker, nutritionist, and founder of the Academy of Culinary Nutrition… and the only woman on the panel
It’s not unusual to take 5-10 years to break 7-figures. Meghan is in her 10th year now and shared her progress:
- Year 1 – $8k
- Year 2 – $30k
- Year 3 – $60k
- Year 4 – $90k
- Year 5 – $100k+
- Year 7 – $1M
And, guess when she started taking a regular salary?
Not until her 6th year in business!
One of the biggest catalysts for her business, and it happened to be great timing, was when the National Post was starting their food blog. Meghan knew one of their writers. She asked if she could write for them and did it. This gave her an audience across Canada.
When you’re starting a business, it shouldn’t be about the money at the end of the day; but loving your work, who you’re reaching, and providing solutions to problems.
You don’t need to have exceptional knowledge or be born with special gifts. You need to develop the discipline to do the work every single day, show up, and see challenges through to the outcome. Some will be positive and some will be learning experiences, it’s all valuable. One of the biggest challenges that many people have is they stop after a few years when it usually gets hard. Keep going without fear of prosperity or success.
Find the area of your business that’s earning the most revenue. Look at the amount of money you earn, and also the amount of time you put into it, as well as how much you love it. Use these to help decide how much effort to keep putting into it.
If you’re the CEO and you’re sitting down to work, make sure it’s worth your time. If you think of yourself as an employee with the work you put you, would you hire yourself?
One really great thing that Meghan did at the beginning of her business is that she wrote a blog post 7 days/week for 4 years! She recently reviewed her old posts, and said some of them were “so bad.” She’s since taken down or revised a lot of old posts. This is how she built her community.
When you put yourself out there and feel vulnerable, you will get some negative comments. Meghan advises not to take them personally. She want’s to inspire a response, ideally a positive one, hopefully, it makes people think and ask questions, but that doesn’t always happen. You have to develop a thick skin if you’re going to put your face out on the internet for your business. Her policy for handling mean comments is “delete & forgive.” How great is that?When you put yourself out there and feel vulnerable, you will get some negative comments. @MeghanTelpner says not to take them personally. Her policy for handling mean comments is 'delete & forgive.' How great is that? #blog Click To Tweet
One of Forbes “Top Networkers to Watch,” and founder of one of the world’s most exclusive events for entrepreneurs, Mastermind Talks.
Benefits of entrepreneurship:
Entrepreneurship allows freedom of time, freedom of finances, freedom of purpose, and freedom of relationships.
Three years ago Jayson was making $5k/month and a mentor asked him to imagine a day he made $80k/month. Intellectually he said “ya, sure,” emotionally he thought “I will never, ever do $80/month.” Three years later he had his first $900k month.
Surround yourself with people who are playing at a higher level than you.
“Every year, as we get more confident we raise the price.”
“Relationships are the safest investment you can make.”
“In absence of clarity, take action!”In absence of clarity, take action! via @jaysongaignard @freshbooks @elainepofeldt Click To Tweet
Building businesses online since 1999 and is most known for his work as the co-founder of Examine.com.
Build your business by solving problems:
Solve a problem the customer needs to be solved right now. Then focus on one distribution – don’t spread yourself too thin.
See what you can do really well, and then try to 10x that (don’t jump into another thing).
Passion is overrated:
Passion can burn out easily. Passion will get you started, but won’t always take you to the finish line. There are a lot of “non-sexy” problems in “old school” industries that need to be solved.
There may be a lot of satisfaction in “mastery.”
One post had people lashing out an incredible amount of vitriol and one person called Sol a “fuck face.” This comment made him curious and he looked into the person – the two of them never had a conversation. They’d never interacted, yet this person made that comment.
The reality is that every time this happens Sol asks himself if he would ever exchange places with this person? If the answer is “no,” then why bother yourself with it? It’s natural to let it fumble in your head, let it ferment, and come up with an awesome response, etc. But within 24h, it will pass and move on. The more you engage with it the more you’ll get back, plus other people notice and see how you respond. He says “The people who are angry at you are not your customers anyway, so why would you give a shit?”The reality of business is that you're just solving a problem. There are a million variables and steps that lead up to a eureka moment. As long as you're solving a problem you can build a business. via @sol_orwell @freshbooks Click To Tweet
Co-Founder of Soxy, an ecommerce brand which creates bold fashion for men who strive to express their individuality and stand out from the crowd.
Think of how can you make people’s lives even better? Don’t be product-centric; instead, cater to a specific community. Find out what they are using, and ask yourself how you can make your product even better and get your first 100 customers. These first 100 people will be passionate about what you’re selling.
Generating more revenue:
There are three main ways to increase your income:
- more customers (this can be expensive)
- more money per customer (add complementary products)
- more frequent purchases per customer
Do deep work:
A big problem these days is the inability to perform deep work. “Deep work” is the ability to perform cognitive tasks without distraction. It can take 20 minutes to get back into your task after being distracted. Those who have this skill will thrive. There is a difference between being busy and having a good output. Cut your distractions – for one thing, put away your phone! He recommends the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. (affiliate link)
Find a niche:
You need to find a niche and determine how you’re going to serve that community. Come up with how you can make their lives even better. Cater to a specific community and build something they will be super-passionate about. Make something even better than what they’re using now. This works better than building a product and finding customers for it.How to build a profitable biz? Cater to a specific community and build something they will be super-passionate about. Make something even better than what they're using now. via @soxy @freshbooks @elainepofeldt Click To Tweet
Quote of the night award…
Best quote of the night by @Sol_Orwell, “Social media is incredibly overrated. Use your email to build a sense of community. Don’t let a $100 billion company get between you and your customers.”
Building a business is very, very hard… but it can be done. And it can become insanely profitable.
Signing off and toasting: To building insanely profitable businesses!
Over to you
What piece of advice here do you totally agree or disagree with? Which one(s) will you use to help build your insanely profitable business? I’d love to know (in the comments below)!
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Very well written. You gave some good highlights and it was an easy read. The conclusion hits the nail on the head. I have just started the journey so I guess this is the beginning of a very long trip!
Luana Flacco, R.H.N
Thanks Luana! I love your analogy – yes, entrepreneurship is a very long trip!
I just reread this article tonight (4 years later!). Yes, building a business is very, very hard. I have had to pause it many times for personal reasons. I am still in the game though. I have sooo much to learn and mindsets to overcome. However, I am learning to enjoy the process and also see success in many different ways. Luana
Luana, I’m so glad that you’re enjoying the process and seeing success in different ways. That is so important! I’m cheering you on from here.