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If you’ve discovered the online world recently and seen some pretty amazing success stories you may well be wondering how the hell these people did this. Am I right?
And if you’ve started already you probably wish you knew what the path ahead looks like and what kind of results you can expect when.
Knowing what to expect and really importantly where you are at in the journey can give you a sense of security and understanding of the landscape around you.
After all it’s not like entrepreneurship comes with a performance review every year and then the corresponding salary increase!
It can all feel like a bit of a mystery.
So let’s unpack this.
Once you know your business growth path you can get a sense of what you should be focusing on, what to aim for and when you can expect to hit “the next level”.
I call this the Online Business Growth Ladder. This is what it looks like.
The Online Business Growth Ladder:
|Business Growth Level||Income Range (Monthly)||Your Focus|
|Starter||$0-$3k||Setting up the business foundation|
Do I need to go through all 5 levels?
Looking at level 5 you might be thinking – Holy shit! Do I need to go all the way to the top?
No, of course not.
Maybe you’d be totally happy to earn $50k a year doing something you really enjoy. Then once you have the sales you want in the Hustler Level you move into Pro and you’re exactly where you want to be.
Not everyone wants to be a millionaire, most people don’t. A lot of people want to be more low key and that’s totally cool.
What I will say is this:
The human condition is to almost want more. More growth, more achievement, more love, more everything.
Almost certainly your business is going to be helping people and not all of this help has to be delivered by you personally.
When I started my business my goal was to reach the level where both myself and my partner could be at home which for me was around the $12k a month mark.
We’re now past that goal and I have new goals. I want to help literally thousands of women quit their jobs and lead a life of independence, purpose, freedom and flexibility.
As you grow your goals may well grow as well.
But to start off with we have to start at the beginning and choose something that feels like a stretch but is also manageable.
So we start where we are at on the ladder.
Is this set in stone?
No, we are all individuals and we all have different income and lifestyle goals which is why each level has an income range and depending on your goals you may be below or above the range and that’s okay.
The amounts are set as monthly because when you are doing things right you move relatively fast. You would progress through three levels in a year so yearly income doesn’t make sense.
I use this ladder to help clients see where they are at and gain perspective on what’s coming up. Often it can feel like things are “wrong” or not how they should be. Sharing the growth path helps you realize – oh, I’m exactly where I need to be! Or with people coming in struggling with their business oh, I need to work on some fundamentals (the work of the level below) to go forwards.
So let’s unpack the different levels.
Business Growth Level 1 – The Dreamer Level
- You’ve known you want to be your boss for a long time
- You may even have had a few attempts or tried working with an MLM or being a freelance consultant
- You know it’s possible – but you haven’t had a real, serious go at starting your own thing yet
You know it’s possible, you know it’s out there but you haven’t fully committed to yourself and your future freedom that this is going to happen. Why not?
Most likely for the exact reason that we are addressing in this post – you don’t know what the levels are, you don’t know what lies ahead.
The key for you here is to commit to yourself that this is going to happen. When you are on your deathbed you aren’t going to be thinking “If only I’d been brave enough…” because let’s face it, that would really suck.
Where you want to move to The Starter Level.
Business Growth Level 2 – The Starter Level
The Starter Level. This is where you:
- Choose your niche
- Decide what you sell, who you sell it to and how you sell it
- Build the business architecture
- Create a process to make sales
Essentially then you have all the pieces that a functioning business needs. You know what you are doing, in what form you are selling it, how to convince people of the value that you have to offer and how to sell it. If you need more help on what this looks like join one of my live free workshops on this subject. They are really informative and super fun.
The process starts with you and deeply understanding who you and what is going to be a good fit for you as a niche.
Once you have your niche we want to look at what makes it special and how are we going to present this business idea to the outside world. Only once that is clear does it make sense to create any offers – otherwise how will you know what result to create, who to aim it at and what to highlight?
Once your offers are done you are ready to test it in the market place and see if what you’ve put together actually works out there in the market.
The thing is most people rush over this level and get straight into the next step – which is The Hustler Level.
Business Growth Level 3 – The Hustler Level (or The Struggler Level if you mess up The Starter Level)
- You are out there getting clients
- Honing your craft
- Working on tweaking your offers and sales process
(Just in case we have any confusion here I want to point out I mean hustling as being out there, looking for clients. Not in any other sense!)
The issue here is most people want to skip the starter level, they want to get straight to creating a website and then looking for clients level. What they don’t realize is that the better your work is in the starter level, the easier it is to find clients that want to work with you. Otherwise you unfortunately end up struggling which is why I put the struggler level in brackets.
Doing a ton of marketing and looking for clients won’t help if your niche, messaging or offers aren’t solid. Or if you don’t know how to sell. So if you are spinning your wheels it’s time to look at if you actually did the thinking necessary in The Starter Level.
If you think you are doing all the things (social media, blogging, etc) and not seeing results you are not alone. 90% of people who want to start an online business think of a (usually not well defined) niche and then start throwing a website together. Then they spend sometimes the next 2 years struggling and trying to fix what they did when a little strategic guidance would have enabled them to have a smooth start.
They’ve drunk the koolaid that starting an online business is easy and get surprised when it is really hard to find clients and they end up struggling. Buying courses of Facebook ads, buying courses on marketing, endlessly changing their copy. If this is you – focus on creating a solid business foundation that clearly offers value to the right customers. Then you can build off of that.
Once you are consistently getting clients you move into the Pro Level.
Business Growth Level 4 – The Pro Level
Yeah, you’re a pro! This is where you are at:
- Reliable stream of clients
- Starting to outsource more
- Ready to scale
This is the stage where you’ve made it really. Things are stable.
I do want to make clear that the hustle never really ends because as a business owner you want to grow and improve your business and you’ll always be on the look out for new opportunities but it feels much less acute.
Some people make it to this stage within 6 months but more likely you are looking at a period of a year to feel really comfortable just because being in business is a mental adjustment and there are lots of new things to get used to.
How did you feel when I said that? If you felt disappointed remember I’m being real. Some people do it faster, many people take longer.
It all comes down to your niche – by definition some things are more in demand than others – and whether you are doing the right things at each stage of business.
You can absolutely stay here comfortably FOREVER. As I said before not everyone wants to hit a million in revenue.
If you’re game up next is The Ultimate Success Level.
Business Growth Level 5 – The CEO Level
- Your business is fully systemized
- You have leveraged revenue streams
- You are stepping into the role of a leader of a CEO
If you know already you’re in it to win it or you are looking to make a bigger impact and help more people this is what you are aiming for.
Here your business is fully systemized, you likely have a small team, you have several revenue streams and likely almost all of them are leveraged in some way.
You are stepping into the role of a leader or a CEO.
Which I think you can agree with me is pretty exciting!!
So that’s the Online Business Growth Ladder.
Now I’d love to hear from you
Where are you at on the ladder?
Does seeing the pathway mapped out make it feel easier for you to start?
Do you recognize yourself in any of the levels?
How does it feel to see it mapped out like this?
Let me know in the comments below!