7 Lessons I Learned from My First Multi-Million Dollar Year
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In this article, you’ll read the top seven lessons that I learned from making my first multi-million dollar year.
A lot of the lessons that I’m going to share today are really going to hit home for you, whether you have the same size business as I do, or maybe even a bigger business than me. This blog will have something for everyone.
If you prefer to listen to the podcast, make sure you check out the latest episode here and I would love to know if today’s episode resonates with you.
But if you prefer to read, then keep scrolling to learn more about the 7 insights I gained from scaling my business to more than 2.5 million dollars in less than three years.
I really want to dedicate this episode to the top seven lessons that I learned last year in 2020 while I was building up my business.
2019 was the first year that we started the business. We made about $500,000 in revenue.
The second year in business, I made about $2.7 million in revenue, which is insane!
We were also highly profitable last year at 75% profit margin, which is absolutely WTF. Although, I did get slapped with a really big tax bill. We’ll talk about that maybe some point later in a different episode, but there were a lot of incredible milestones.
We had our first seven figure launch last year as well. And hired our very first few employees.
I’m really excited for this re-launch of the podcast and blog, because I have so many juicy stories to tell you about the journey of scaling up my business and adjusting to all the growing pains that I’m experiencing right now.
Lesson #1 Masterminds can be Overrated
Let’s talk about the first lesson that I learned that I kind of share secretly or not secretly, but I share it behind closed doors to a lot of my closest friends and confidence.
And that is masterminds are over-glorified and they’re not what they think you think they are.
So when I first came on the scene, I heard about masterminds all the time. All the most successful people that I look up to are in a mastermind.
I made it a goal for myself, the moment that I make enough money, I’m going to join a mastermind and be surrounded by all these high-level people and totally explode my business. And I did that. I joined my very first mastermind last year. And unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed by my experience and it’s not necessarily completely the mastermind’s fault it was just that the experience was not what I had anticipated.
At the time, I had joined group coaching programs before and it was incredible. I loved having a curriculum laid out. I love the organization and the structure of being able to hop on weekly coaching calls, actually having a curriculum set for me, kind of like a course, and being able to follow a specific strategy and having an end result tied to it.
For some reason, I thought that a mastermind must be very similar, but with even more attention and even more strategies that are kind of like a higher level. Because when you are enrolling in a mastermind, you’re likely paying way more. The one that I joined was around $25,000 – $30,000.
I know a lot of people have maybe the same expectations that I did that, Hey, it’s probably very similar to a group coaching program. I’m going to walk away with all these strategies and you know, I’m going to get so much attention and all these different things, but in my experience, you actually get less attention in a mastermind. You don’t get that much access to the person who’s hosting but more so learn from people in the group.
Every single month they host a call and have everyone kind of talk. There is no actual structure. At least the one that I joined, there is no curriculum. So I was paying $20,000 to $30,000 to basically hop on an online call once a month because we’re able to meet in person due to the pandemic.
If you are interested in attending a mastermind, my advice to you would be to do your research!
Understand what topics they’re going to be talking about. How will it be structured? Who else is in your mastermind group? What’s the background of everyone else? If you do join one, make sure it’s a very niche one. Because that’s where you can get the best value.
Personally, I would rather pay for a group coaching program that has a very specific result. For instance, joining a group program, that’s going to teach you how to turn your course on evergreen. Like I did.
Another way to create something similar to a mastermind is to just meet up with my friends or people who you look up to and do your own zoom meeting and talk about what everyone is working on, because that’s literally what we did in my mastermind.
Every week or every other week or every month gathering five people that you really respect that you guys are all kind of on the same journey. Maybe some of you guys have different specializations or skills but all of you have very similar income levels and goals. You casually just meet up every month to swap notes.
That is basically what a mastermind is like, literally.
What I learned now is that at a certain stage in your business, you have to realize that you don’t need more mentorship. Imagine if you’re constantly going to personal development conferences. Once you go to your 10th one, you’re kind of like, okay, I know this stuff already.
I’m not bashing masterminds or bashing the mastermind that I joined, I’m really glad I did it, but what I wanted to share with you guys, and what I learned is that oftentimes I find that masterminds are overpriced and over-glorified for what you’re actually getting.
I felt it’s really important for me to share my truth, to share my experience. Just be honest with you guys on what I think.
Lesson #2 You Don’t Need More Coaches, You Need Better Teams
The first lesson of joining masterminds taught me really invaluable lessons.
And that is… you don’t need more coaches. You just need a better team.
Now, when you’re starting out, I think that coaching and having support and mentorship is invaluable.
What I’ve done this year, is I enrolled my operations manager into Alex Charfen accelerator group coaching program. It has a bunch of material curriculum base that actually gives us templates, swipe files, Airtable templates and all these things on how to run our meetings, how to project management, how to project-manage, how to lead the team, how to be a better leader. And my operations manager has the ability to hop on any coaching call and with a group coaching program.
This way, my operations manager, Alice, can learn from him. And whatever she learned, she relays it back to me. And if there’s anything interesting that she thinks I should learn about, then I’ll go.
I’ve only completed one group coaching program. And that was to help me figure out the end result of turning my course and putting it on evergreen.
I’ve had coaches and mentorship, but I’m not the type of person who needs to have a coach, every single waking moment of my business. I know that there are some people out there who like, feel lost without a coach who feels lost and they feel like once I finish this program, I need to join another program cause I need help.
If you feel like you need that support, all the power to you. But what I’m saying is that you need to understand why you’re hiring that coach in the first place, because some people hire coaches because they’re using it as a crutch
Don’t use coaches like a crutch
Because when you literally oversubscribed to having mentors, oversubscribed, to having coaches, you kind of lose your own judgment. You lose your own decision-making capabilities because you’re basically leaning so much on someone. So there’s a fine balance between having mentorship versus overly relying on it because you think you won’t be successful without it.
You’ll get to a point in business where you may not need more coaching. You don’t need more mentorship.
If you want it, you can get it, but you should not be thinking, okay, well I need a coach because I just need a coach or I just need someone to lean on.
The biggest lesson that you can learn is learning to trust yourself and learning to trust your team.
Lesson #3 Don't Cheap Out On Your Business
At some stage in your business, it’s going to be your team that’s going to drive you forward. It’s going to be your team that’s going to help you scale.
I really took that to heart.
And so instead of joining a mastermind, I hired more employees. I hired four new employees to be exact!
I also hired an HR person to help me with my internal processes. I upgraded some software.
Hiring experts for certain areas in business is very worth it. I used to be that business owner that was just hella cheap. And I’d be like, you know what? This tech thing, my VA can handle it. Or thinking, why would I hire a tech person when I have an admin person who can set up the funnel?
And so I kept just pushing back hiring a tech person and all of that. But over time, what I realized is that there are certain areas in your business where you do need an expert.
And so for example, let’s use tech. Tech is basically like setting up the Zapier softwares. If an active campaign goes down, who’s fixing it? How do you actually set up the funnel? How do you actually rejig all of the errors that might happen for a customer, all that stuff.
If you hire someone who’s inexperienced, it’s going to take them longer to figure it out. The moment I hired someone who knew what they were doing, they were able to solve a problem that would take my old team member two hours to figure out or a week to figure out in 10 minutes!
Another role you should hire a specialist for: is an HR consultant.
As we hire more people, there are questions like how am I going to increase their salaries? What does the bonus structure look like? What are the HR rules like? Am I breaking any labor laws? What happens if someone works overtime? What benefits do they need? How do I do vacation?
Like all these things that you don’t learn in school and you definitely don’t want to guess in Google. So Tech and HR are two fields that I think are worth hiring specialists for.
Instead of spending that money on the next hottest group coaching program that you probably don’t need anyways, depending on where you’re at in business, and you actually asking yourself, do you really need this mentor?
Last year, I used to cheap out and hire the cheapest VAs or hire the person that would give me the cheapest rate. But over time I realized that the person, even though you’re paying more per hour, they could actually do it faster and better and more legit with less mistakes so that you don’t have to do it all over again.
Instead of spending money towards joining masterminds, I invested in my team’s growth and in updating systems that will move my business forward. Because of that, within Q1 we almost made a million dollars in the first quarter of our business year.
Lesson #4 Focus on Scaling One Product
There is power in perfecting what you already have.
A lesson that I learned and preach to everyone all the time is to focus on scaling up one product instead of launching many.
The $2.7 million that I made came from one product, The BOSSGRAM Academy, and this product is the very first product I launched as a course in 2019.
The first time that I launched it, I think I made about $150,000 to $200,000 which is insanely incredible. Especially as a new business. I had a growing audience, a very loyal audience, and I enrolled about 200 people into that program.
The next time, I took the time to take the feedback, collect the testimonials.
Then I relaunched it again.
This time the program was cleaned up. I kept a group coaching call so that I was still interacting with students and getting feedback. If people weren’t seeing results, I would ask myself, why? And then tweak the curriculum.
It was like a huge process. I think I did that for a very long time, almost a year.
And then once I did over almost like a year of group coaching calls and getting as close as I could to my clients and students collecting as many testimonials as possible and also really working out the kinks of the program. I relaunched it again.
The third time I also invested money in rebranding it. I redid all the slides and basically cleaned it up and elevated it, making the look of it go from a give figure course to a seven-figure course.
And then that literally led to a million dollar launch.
So the majority of the revenue that I made came from that one product.
This shows to you that there is power in perfecting what you already have.
And if you think what you already have is not good, well, it doesn’t have to be a product forever. You can improve it, right? You can improve it over time.
The curriculum that I have today for The BOSSGRAM Academy is so different from the curriculum that I started with, but it’s still under The BOSSGRAM Academy.
A common misconception that I see is people think they need to launch new products every single time. This strategy is fine, but it can cause more confusion and more chaos.
#1 long-term you won’t really be known for anything
If you just keep launching random products here and there, there’s no signature product to your brand. And if you don’t want a signature product, that’s okay too. But I’m just saying that if you have multiple products, that’s a lot of output that you’re putting out. And if you just spend time perfecting what you already have, it’s actually less work to do that than create a whole new product from scratch.
#2 you’re never going to have a product that’s fully perfected
Instead you’ll have a bunch of mediocre products that you’re doing for the very first time VS if you launch that one product and perfect it, then you’re basically working off of a good foundation over and over again.
The foundation is going to get stronger and stronger and stronger. So at the end, you’re going to see a compound effect of your efforts of producing that product.
Now, a common question that I get a lot of people asking me is but I have a one-on-one service. How do I like to scale that up?
What I did was, I took my one-on-one coaching program that I had in 2019 when I started my business and packaged what I was teaching into a course that had weekly calls.
So basically The BOSSGRAM Academy is almost the same curriculum that I was teaching with my one-on-one clients, but I just packaged it into a course and then I scaled it up.
That’s literally what I did. So that’s one thing that you can definitely consider doing in your business.
You don’t need multiple products in order to make a million dollars.
You need a good product to make a million dollars.
Lesson #5 You Set The Tone For What You Put Up With
I learned over time, especially last year, as you scale up your business, as you get more customers, as you get more followers, you’re going to get a lot of opinions.
You’re going to get a lot of people who disagree with you. It’s just inevitable. I don’t know any successful business that doesn’t have refund requests that doesn’t have copycats.
Before, I found myself complaining and getting very annoyed about students who copy and take my program and sell it like it’s their own course.
But a huge energy shift for me was that I went from being a victim to being a problem solver.
For example, now, if someone copies my work or if I see a student breach our terms and conditions and resell the product, or literally directly copies and paste our content into their own course and sells it.
I will literally remove them from the program, contact my lawyers and send a cease and desist. Whereas before I wouldn’t do that, and I would just constantly complain to my friends.
But now I just deal with it. I handle it. I don’t complain about it as much anymore.
The same can be applied to more day to day issues like your students or followers tagging you or DMing you to ask for your advice or opinions. I used to be very stressed out by these messages and felt obligated to respond.
Now what we’ve done is hired community managers who will answer it on my behalf. There were times where I would still answer it, but I would send the answer to my team member for them to respond.
That trained our students to realize, “Hey, when you buy this program, you can’t tag Vanessa in every single post that you have. That’s not a part of the package. If you want Vanessa’s one-on-one attention, then that’s going to be another offer. You’re going to need to pay more. You’re going to do whatever for that. That’s not a part of the group rules. You’re breaking the group rules.”
You need to kind of train your students or your clients to know that, “Hey, there’s a boundary here.”
Over time I have learned that, all of the things that I was complaining about, I was setting the tone for.
The moment that I just put my foot down, the moment that I enforce my boundaries. It made all the difference.
Was it uncomfortable at first to do that? Absolutely.
But now, it’s amazing.
I’m not getting anxiety every morning because I have 200 notifications of all of my students tagging me right now. I have a team who handles it. And the best part is, my team handles it better than I could. I have hired experts, people who are good at what they do better. And my students feel completely taken care of with my team. They trust my team.
Lesson #6 You’re Going to Hate Your Business. And That’s Okay
One day you’ll wake up and you’re gonna hate what you do.
And I think that is normal.
Because when you start out, it’s kind of like a fun little project for you, right?
It’s kind of like a sprint, but after a while, around two years into your business, you’re going to realize, “Oh my gosh, this is kind of my life. This isn’t a project anymore. Every day is going to be this, and every day I’m going to be working on my business.”
As you scale your business, the things become more automated. It becomes more systemized. It becomes more predictable. So then it starts to kind of become like less of a passion, more like a job.
My biggest advice to you is when you hit that point, it’s really important that you either pivot, remove or add.
Pivot could look like pivoting your niche. It could look like pivoting your offer and pivoting your messaging, like changing something.
So for instance, when I started, I was very broad and I hated it. I was attracting Amazon sellers, product based businesses agencies. I was attracting all these things. I wasn’t niche enough. So I hated what I was doing cause I wasn’t in my zone of genius and I didn’t know what I was doing to be honest. Then I pivoted and I niched down.
At the moment that you hate your business, you have to pivot. Either you remove something, or you add something so that you can fall in love with it again.
Not every day is going to be a date where you absolutely love your business, but you also want to keep the excitement there by doing that.
Lesson #7 Spend the Money that You're Making
In the first three years of your business you’re in growth mode.
And in order to feel that growth, you need to spend that money, whether that is enrolling in a group coaching program and getting more support, whether that is hiring more people, or upskilling your people and investing in programs for them, there are so many things you can upgrade.
Different things, even as simple upgrading your software buying new equipment. Now I’m spending money to grow my business. And that’s one thing that I’m definitely going to be doing more this year.
Of course, I am still saving. But I’m also reminding myself that I need to spend money in order to make money. This comes from the money mindset as well, I’m a money hoarder and that comes from the fear of losing money and the fear that if I spend all this money, I’m not going to be able to make it back.
And so I became too scared to even invest it. I was not smart with the money that I was making last year. Yes, you could have money in the bank and that’s awesome.
But are you investing that money into your business? Are you investing that money into real estate? Are you investing that money into your team? Are you investing that money in the stock market, or whatever your thing is?
Make sure to do something with that money because if it’s sitting in the bank account, then you’re not making any impact whatsoever.
This year, my profit might be lower, but I know that my impact is going to be way higher.
And I’m gonna use that money to plant many seeds for the long-term, not just thinking about the next 12 months, but thinking about the next 10 years. What am I doing with that money?
Obviously there are so many other lessons that I’ve learned. This is just the seven that I came up with for this episode. Make sure to check out and stay tuned to my future episodes, because there are going to be so many more lessons sprinkled throughout the episodes.
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