7 Steps to Scaling to Six Figures in Your Business
One of the questions I get most in business (after how to hire my first team member) is ‘How do you actually scale to six figures?’.
I’ve thought long and hard about this for the last year, drawing on what I’ve learnt from others, the trends I’ve seen coming into fruition and more than any of that; the lessons I’ve learnt from building three six figure businesses from scratch over the last ten years.
It feels crazy to write that down – that I’ve built three six figure companies literally from scratch – because I don’t come from business parents and I never went to business school.
Every business I ever set up came from a crazy idea, I turned into a crazy vision and built with a crazy plan.
Yes I read some books (I’m a fanatic learner), and yes I hired coaches along the way, and yes…I just kept going until I figured it out.
Once I’d done it in the world marketing, it was easier to do it in recruitment and then it was easier to do it in online courses and coaching programmes.
Well, ‘easier’ isn’t the right word haha. I mean, I believed it was possible so that made it easier mentally.
So, pulling on everything I’ve learnt over the last ten years, let me share with you what it takes to hit multiple six figures in your business (in a scalable and sustainable way!).
7 steps to 6 figures
Step #1 Visionary leadership
People look to leaders in the field to advise them, to guide them, to show them the way.
So two things: (1) What are you going to lead us in and (2) are you ready to hold space as a leader?
1. What are you going to lead us in?
There is a lot of noise out there on social media. It helps to be specific and focused, giving people a clear and simple vision they can see, understand and get behind.
You might know lots of things and teach lots of things in your programmes but what do you want to stand out for? What will be your legacy? When people think of you, what do you want them to connect you with?
Originally I wanted to be connected with ‘how to change your life’ and I went in heavy on that, even vlogging my own journey of change.
But I’ve realised my vision is bigger and even more specific than that. I’m here to help purpose-driven entrepreneurs to scale to six figures so they can have a long term and scalable impact in the world.
Tell people who you are, turn up like that and they will start to see you in that way. Your audience’s understanding of you will help to build your brand in your space.
So who are you? What do you want us to look to you for? And what is the model you’re teaching?
I teach my students to write this down and perfect and perfect until it’s clear. I also recommend they tell other people. Put it into words, tell clients, talk about it online. You will always get what you intend and thoughts and words have energy.
2. Are you ready to hold space as a leader
I just shared this question with my Expansion Business School clients this month and it raised a few moments of self reflection.
Are you really ready to be seen as a leader? To hold space for others? And you ready to receive recognition for the impact you have on other people’s lives?
Because people will start looking to you and asking you questions. And they’ll start following your ideas and implementing your models. And they’ll lean on your faith while they’re building their own, especially clients.
Don’t look at other people in the market – other leaders in your space – and see them as far away mystical celebs. See them as your peers. See yourself having dinner with them. See yourself collaborating with them. Because this will happen if you really claim your unique space as a leader.
If this makes you uncomfortable, look into this. Is it a mindset issue or subconscious belief you need to unearth? Do you have a skills gap you want to plug? Do you need to change certain habit, like creating more thought leading content and consuming less of other people’s?
It’s an interesting idea to explore.
Step #2 Strategic approach
Omg I love me some strategy! Strategy is a military term. It comes from the Greek word strategos meaning ‘generalship‘… I take it to mean ‘How can I achieve that outcome with these resources, this time and this landscape?’.
Being strategic means having an approach that uses the resources, time and opportunity you have in a smart, albeit ambitious, way. And it means ruling out just as much as you rule in.
Think of it this way. You’re standing at the edge of a river. On the other side of the river is your vision. There are multiple ways to cross the river. You could take the bridge, fly, swim, use stepping stones, row etc. etc. But would you agree that you can’t use the bride and swim at the same time? Because that’s impossible. So pick one. Which is the best option giving the time, the resources available and the landscape.
I think this is one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make when trying to get to build a six figure business. They try to deliver on two strategies at once. Take your time. Think it through. Make a decision.
For example, when I was first building DARETOGROW, I made the strategic decision to vlog almost daily to document my journey of change. It was a great way to break through the noise, build trust and prove it was possible to scale a business from nothing to multiple six figures.
Plus, as a friend of mine in LA pointed out to me recently, it helped me to hone my craft as a film maker, learning how to tell stories, learning how to hold attention. Now, I can put all that focus into one or two videos each week and make them pop!
Now that I’m running a much bigger business, it’s just not practical to vlog every day. I’m working much more closely with clients in Expansion Business School, I’m travelling more and I have other projects like my book and my upcoming podcast wahooo!!
So, me and my team sat down to refocus our vision, explore the options and decide on a new strategy.
The outcome? Now we batch-film content in one day. We literally meet in a location, list out all the things our audience needs to know and film 6-8 videos in a day!
For each new video, I just whack on a different top to keep it varied.
This is a much more productive use of my time now and it means it’s easier for the team to turn around super high quality content on reliable, consistent basis!
Shout to you all – Matt, Amy and Hollie! I could not do this without you.
As your business grows, your strategy (and everything else in this article) will evolve. That’s cool. Let it.
But at each stage decide.
The test of a good strategy is the ‘I’m out test’.
Imagine all of a sudden you can’t work. You’re head to toe in a cast and can’t type or anything! Nightmare. Your vision and your strategy should be so frickin’ clear and so concise that you should be able to hand it over to a team and have them deliver it for you.
Step #3 Execute until you land it
When scaling up for the first time, people think that they’re going to nail it one launch, or with one book or viral video.
Nope! Scaling takes time. It takes practice. And it takes multiple attempts at the same thing.
What I mean by this is that you test and test and test before you actually scale.
Let’s say you’re launching an online course or group coaching programme, for example. Plan it, build the first shit version and launch that bad boy!
With this first launch you want to test your content, your messaging, your landing page, your ads…all the moving parts.
When I launched my online course in the beginning, I launched it every six weeks until I figured out the best way to position it and sell it online. Once I nailed it, I switched to launching it twice a year and spent a lot more money in my launches…£2000, £5000…£10,000. I could do this confidently because I knew my model worked. I wasn’t just throwing money in the hope an ad would work: I was scaling.
Don’t get stuck in the fantasy land of business planning, never to execute on your plan. The best part of the plan is the delivery of it. That’s when you realise your plan was never going to work haha.
No worries my friend, this is where you pivot, shift, adapt and tweak. The strategy remains the same but the mechanics shift.
I am still using this approach now…
Even though Expansion Business School is evergreen (meaning you can join anytime), for example I still run launches around four times a year to boost interest and invite people to join.
Each time I launch it, I set a goal. For example, I might aim to bring in 10 new students, or 20. I plan my launch and I test it. Which ad copy works best? Is a webinar better than a Facebook live? How many people on my list joined up.
Every launch I do gives me the chance to get creative, test and learn.
So don’t prepare for one launch this year. Prepare for four or five even.
Step #4 Operational infrastructure
You might have heard it said that you can’t get to six figures by yourself? You can. But I wouldn’t advise it. It’s horrible haha.
As you begin to scale, you’re going to need help. In the beginning you might hire freelancers and VAs (virtual assistants) but as you grow your business you might really want to consider hiring FTEs: full time employees.
My first support role, for example, came in the form of monthly graphic design. Then I hired a video editor full time, then a marketing executive full time. Then we started to engage user experience designers to build our landing pages and on it goes. On the journey, I spoke with PR experts, I tested outsourcing my Facebook ads. I did lots of things.
But I’ll tell you something interesting. I had this all mapped out on a structure chart on PowerPoint long before I could hire anyone! And now I’ve hired for those roles, the chart has evolved. I can’t wait to hire a junior video editor to support Matt in my team for example. We’re pretty video mad!
In truth, building your operational infrastructure is a messy game. You don’t always know what you need until you’re right there in the moment.
So guess! You’re a smart person so make an educated guess.
I think it’s a really smart idea to begin mapping out structure charts. What would be your dream set up? Who would you hire? Who would report to who? It might sound mad if you’re nowhere near six figures yet but you will always get what you expect, what you focus on and what’s in focus. So start making your plans clear.
Now when I say operational infrastructure, I’m not just talking about hiring people. Operations is people, systems and processes.
As I start to hire people I write out role profiles, I give people objectives and I literally write out the process I’ve been following to show them step by step how to do their role. People joining from scratch love that clarity. And yes, things evolve as they add their slant to things (and inevitably make it better) but it’s important you share your expectations, standards and experience up front.
When my marketing executive joined the team, I made her a checklist for adding new content because its a really involved process!
When we produce a video for example, we get subtitles made. We add each video to the web site and write descriptions for Google rankings. We get covers made by our graphic designer. The process is quite long. And a checklist helped us all to breath.
By the way, if I can add one more point…Aiming for six figures ain’t such a good idea! If you hire someone at £20k, you’re going to spend about £27k minimum on salary and equipment alone. Then there’s the office space, the downtime on training etc. etc. That’s more than one quarter of your earnings. You need to earn a living too and you’ve got other costs. I think it’s better to aim for £150k or £250k and do this same work with that goal in mind instead.
Step #5 Scaling that shit up
Okay, the whole article is about how to scale to six figures and we’re just getting to that now. Yes, I see the irony. But this is important: What you do in your business now is going to scale.
If your accounts are a mess now, they’re going to be a bigger mess in 6 months. Making more money won’t fix that.
If you can’t exercise now, nope, you aren’t going to exercise with more dollar. This is why setting up your operations is so important. At that stage, I like to invest in preparation for a bigger business. Don’t cut corners at £5k months because you’ll have to fix it at £30k months.
When it comes to scaling, you’re not really doing any work. You’re actually just putting more time, money and effort into the operational machine you built in earlier stages.
So, invest in the better not the cheaper system or process as you start to scale. Get your house in order now. What you have in your business today is going to scale tomorrow.
Step #6 Stability
Scaling up a business is messy as F! So after a big period of growth, please take a moment to pause, recover and tidy things up.
This might mean taking a holiday (this is a thing where you stop for a week, fly to a hot country and relax. You can google this if you’re unsure).
It might mean giving your house a deep clean (you know I ain’t joking!). It might meaning catching up on accounts or clearing that inbox or replying to those emails you ignored or delivering more training to your team.
I don’t like to grow, grow, grow. I like to grow, stabilise, refocus, grow. I follow this model round and round in a circle.
Step #7 WHY THE F
Okay, here’s the part where I tricked ya! Point 7 is ‘know your why’ or better yet: Know your purpose.
Don’t make more money for making money’s sake. I did that in my first two six figure businesses and I was miserable.
That’s why I stopped asking myself ‘how can I make more money’ and started asking myself ‘what can I do today to make a living doing what I love?’.
To answer that, you obviously need to know what you love.
So before you embark on this journey, really take the time to uncover what drives you, connect with your purpose and make sure it’s aligned with the new vision you’re setting for yourself, your business and your community.
Then every day ask: What am I trying to do here and what one step can I take today to bring this to life?
Want to learn more?
Lisa Bean is the founder of Expansion Business School – an online training, mentoring and coaching programme for purpose driven entrepreneurs who want to hit six figures and beyond. Spots are now open for new students. Click the link below to find out more and apply for a complimentary discovery call with Lisa.