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5 Critical Lessons I Learned Turning My Side Hustle Into a Million-Dollar Business These tried-and-true tips will save you time, scale your business, and make you money.

By Anna David

Key Takeaways

  • How a self-publishing side hustle made 10x more than offering online courses.
  • To grow my business, I learned to do every job before delegating and when to use social media.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In 2016, I followed every marketer's advice and created a funnel that led to an online course. I spent thousands of dollars and worked long hours to make a few hundred dollars.

Around the same time, an entrepreneur asked me to ghostwrite his book, and I convinced him to let me hire a writer and publish it myself. I made $25,000 doing a quarter of the work I'd done creating those online courses.

From that day on, I put my energy into a side hustle that publishes authority-building books for entrepreneurs. Today, Legacy Launch Pad employs a team of writers, designers, and project managers, has published over 50 books, and has brought in seven figures.

But finding the right business was only the first step. Below are five of the greatest lessons I learned.

Photo by Legacy Launch Pad

Do every job yourself before delegating

While it's intimidating to do everything yourself initially, and delegation is crucial once the business is established, giving the wrong person too much power early on means you don't have enough. A few years into starting my business, the first team member I hired tried to sabotage the company and sue me. Even though her plan backfired, it made me realize that I'd given her too much control without understanding enough of the details about what she was doing.

Help the right person (or people) for free

Giving your product to an influential person can be a game-changer. Over 70% of our clients have been referrals from a friend who runs a big mastermind because, early on, I surprised him with a book we'd made out of hundreds of newsletters he'd written. He was so excited that he ordered hundreds of copies to give to everyone in his group and began recommending us to all the members.

Don't post or promote until you know your customer

Social media and podcasts can seem like a waste of time—and it is if you don't figure out what you want it to do for you. When we got clear about who we serve and what they want, we could make everything we put out there about that. I'd advise any entrepreneur to fill in the sentence, "We serve [types of people] so that they can [whatever it is they're hiring you for or buying from you]." If you remind yourself of that sentence before you do anything promotional, you and your company will consistently be building authority. After a while, you won't need to remind yourself of your message because following it will be organic.

Be more exclusive

While not every business can control who uses or hires them, the higher you set your standards for clients, the better those clients will be. When we started, we worked with almost anyone who wanted to hire us. Then we learned that non-entrepreneur clients were the most demanding while our uber-successful entrepreneur clients were the most grateful and easiest to work with. So we started setting qualifications for anyone who wanted to work with us: they either had to be a direct referral from a previous client or go through an application process.

Support the passions of your team members

In this age of side hustles, assuming that your team members are as devoted to your company as you are is unrealistic. Encouraging them to pursue what they're excited about will make them more enthusiastic about working for you because they won't feel like their passions are being stifled. If you don't know what they're interested in, offer to pay for a class they want to take and see if they want to share whatever they gleaned with you and the rest of the team; it will reinforce whatever they've discovered and probably help you learn something new, too.

Anna David

Host of Fail Your Way to Success Podcast

Anna David is one of the world's leading experts on how entrepreneurs can build a business from a book. A NYT bestselling author of eight books, she's also the founder of Legacy Launch Pad Publishing and host of the Fail Your Way to Success podcast. 

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