Over the past 4 years, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with, collaborate with, and interview several millionaire business owners. In this article, I’m focusing specifically on the ones that built their business from the ground up.
Building a million dollar business from the ground up is quite the feat. We all know the stats for entrepreneurs are pretty daunting. I remember when I first started my company, the looks of sympathy I would get when I would tell people I was starting my own consulting business that focused on small- mid sized business owners. “Whew, that’s got to be tough.” They would say. “Well, don’t get discouraged. Most businesses don’t make money for the first couple of years anyway.” And even, “I don’t imagine there’s much of a market for that is there?”
Fortunately I learned a lesson pretty quickly: Don’t take advice from people who have never done what you are trying to do! (Make this into a sharable quote)
Instead, I studied millionaires. I asked for interviews. I hosted events where I could bring them onto my stages so that I would have the chance to ask a lot of questions. Here’s 5 commonalities I’ve found in all of them.
- They failed first. Without exception, every millionaire had a story of struggle. A failed business. Being fired from a career. Bankruptcy. Lawsuits. Pick your brand of failure, but they each had a pretty big failure under their belt before they hit the million dollar mark. This was both justifying and encouraging for me. A crucial part of creating success is learning how to process failure, and to stop fearing it. So many bad decisions are made in the name of safety.
- They made building their team a priority. I can always tell when someone’s business will stay small. They are convinced thatthey can’t afford to hire. So they attempt to do everything themselves. Instead of throwing themselves into the most profitable areas of their business, they end up busy in things that could easily be hired out. Often times for fairly low costs. Every millionaire I know, focused on getting a team in place. Sometimes it was family. Sometimes people started as volunteers first, or unpaid interns, and then they shifted into hiring. I know several people, myself included, who lived on less personal income as a sacrifice to get the right people into the business.
- They analyzed what the business needed, and then figured out how to make it happen. The second sign I look for in determining if a business will stay small or grow is if they make important decisions based on price tags or based on benefits. I am an advocate for financial prudence, and wise spending. But I definitely spend in my business. Early on I made some big mistakes because I was making price tag decisions. “This software program is cheap. Let’s get it.” type of decisions. Now I review what the business needs, and then I find the best way to fill it at a cost we can maintain. Sometimes I have to get really creative and work extra hard to generate that money. A lot of bad decisions are made because the business owner is always putting price tags first instead of analyzing benefits.
- They study like crazy. Notice this one is not past tense. It doesn’t end once the business is working! No one has all the answers when they start their business. Millionaires are wonderful students. They are always studying a book, or attending a workshop. Or hiring someone to teach them what they don’t know how to do.
- They took a risk and cut the safety nets. I see so many people trying to set sail on their business journey, with one foot on the shore. I’m not saying every entrepreneur should quit their job today to jump full into the business, but I’m also not saying you shouldn’t! I am saying, you’ve got to be all in. Whatever those safety nets are that are keeping you from giving your business 100%, figure out how to get rid of them. If you want more tips on getting rid of the safety nets, check out this oldie but goodie from the blog.
Do these things really work? YES! Will it take time, YES! How long? I don’t know. That depends on you. We’d love to hear from you. Which of the characteristics can you develop to create your breakthrough success?