3 Strategies That Turned $6 Into a 6-Figure Business Grow your small business with assembly line-type systems, methods to get past gatekeepers and mutually beneficial relationships.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The day I decided to start my business, I had $6 in my pocket, no experience and zero connections. Needless to say, I made a lot of mistakes. However, within that first year, I was able to overcome a lot of obstacles and learn what it takes to truly succeed as an entrepreneur.
Today I'm going to share with you the top three strategies I used to take that $6 and turn it into a six-figure business.
1. Use systems to scale.
Henry Ford did not become one of America's greatest businessmen because he invented the first Ford automobile. He did so because he developed a system that allowed him to scale his business and get his invention into the hands of everyone in the U.S. That system is better known today as the assembly line.
Systems are processes that entrepreneurs can use to streamline their work and make their business run more efficiently. As a business owner, you need to be focusing on high-level tasks that move your business forward, not low-level, tedious tasks that eat away at your time and productivity. Delegate those duties to someone else.
In order to take back your time, think like Henry Ford and create your own system. Here's how:
- Run through an average day in your head and think about everything you do that doesn't physically need you to get done. Here are a few examples: editing, scheduling, filing.
- Write down a tutorial on how to complete each one of these tasks as if it were the first time you were doing it. Be as detailed as possible.
- Find a full-time or part-time employee to hand over these duties to. Make sure to walk them through each assigned job with the tutorial you created for them to use. Check-in with them periodically to make sure they stay on track.
Creating a system to off-load work will allow you to be more productive and scale your business much faster.
Related: Henry Ford
2. Get past gatekeepers.
The hardest part of selling your product or service is getting in front of the people who will actually make the decision to buy it. Especially in business-to-business industries, the buyer is usually guarded by layers and layers of people who I like to call gatekeepers (e.g. receptionists, assistants, and clerks). Get past them and you can make your sale.
The best way to deal with gatekeepers isn't to go through them, it's to go around them. Here are two powerful tips to get past the gatekeepers, find the decision makers and make your pitch:
- When someone buys a new domain, it is registered with the owner's email, phone number and address, which then becomes public information. It's not surprising that many business owners bought their website's domain name upon starting their business. You can use domain registration databases such as whois.domaintools.com and who.godaddy.com to find the owners information just by plugging in their company or personal website.
- Many companies use the same pattern when creating email addresses for employees -- some are firstname.lastname@example.org, others are may be email@example.com. Find an email address for someone at the company, determine how they structure their email based on the decision makers name, and you're ready to contact them.
3. Form mutually beneficial relationships.
As good as your marketing and advertising campaigns are, nothing beats building a real connection with someone. People will always want to do business with others who are genuinely nice and trustworthy.
How do you go about building these relationships? The simplest way is to find someone else in your industry (or in a complementary one) who you'd like to create a relationship with and offer to help them without asking for anything in return. Doing so will distinguish yourself among the thousands of charlatans out there only looking for a quick buck and show this person that you are selfless and care about their success.
Top entrepreneurs such as Gary Vaynerchuck and Tim Ferriss use this strategy regularly. They give away their time, resources, and tools in an effort to build relationships with others that eventually lead to more speaking engagements, higher consulting rates and larger book deals.
While this strategy is powerful, not many people invest in it because it takes energy. Plus, it can take a long time to see any return and measure it. However, if you want to build a sustainable business and surround yourself with other smart individuals in your industry, take the time to form these relationships -- it's worth it.