If you’re a start-up or scale-up entrepreneur, I have 10 ways for you to bust through your income ceilings.
Before I talk to you about the 10 ways to breakthrough your financial ceilings, your business ceilings, I’ve had quite a hard week (relative to my weeks). I’ve had quite a lot of challenges. They keep coming at me, and coming at me, and coming at me. I’ve even got asked in an event I was speaking at yesterday. Rob, what do you believe is the definition of success? Of course, that’s hard to define in one thing, and there are many. Maybe, in a week, where I wasn’t in my biggest challenge, I would have answer something different. But my answer was, losing no passion and enthusiasm, despite more and harder challenges.
Success is about going from problem to problem with no loss of enthusiasm. I think that might have been Churchill who initially said that. And certainly, I felt that the last week. I want to acknowledge that with you. I’m known for sharing my feelings. Sometimes, I’m an oversharer. But I wanted to acknowledge. I had 3 public speeches I had to do and I had 2 podcasts I had to do.
Usually, I say I’d get to do my podcast and public speeches. I’m very passionate about those. And I enjoy them 99 percent of the time. But this week, because of various things going on, which you’ll probably find out in the future. I didn’t feel like doing them, if I’m honest. And I did them, because one, I think it’s important to be accountable. I think it’s important to show up. I think you show your professionalism, when you don’t really feel like it, but you do it anyway. I think they say that discipline is doing what you know you’ve got to do, even when you don’t feel like it.
But that’s not actually the reason I’m telling you this, because I have definitely been feeling a bit emotional, a bit challenged. I just can’t wait for tomorrow, which is, Monday, if you’re listening to the podcast. I need to get in the office, and right, go and fix the shit. Because I’d generally tend to deal with challenges, by being a fixer and fixing stuff. I feel a bit out of control when I can’t get them fixed. I can’t wait to get to the office tomorrow. Fix this. Fix that. Fid this. Fix that. Find this out. Discover this. Fix this. Apologise for that. Beg for that. Borrow for that. Fix this. Fix that.
The reason, I’m telling you this, because apparently, and it seems to be on some credible websites, but apparently, Kobe Bryant just died in a helicopter crash with 4 other people who are in the helicopter. That’s obviously really awful news. And there’s me worrying about some staff challenges, or event challenges, or building project challenges, you know, a couple of reputational challenges on a small level, and I’m not dead, and people I love are not dead. I’m pretty good at putting stuff into context usually.
Any time I say I’m having a hard week, I’m good at saying someone’s got it harder. Ah, this is a big problem. Actually, it’s a challenge. What can I learn from that. I’m pretty good at that. But a lot that’s logical, isn’t it? I was still feeling a little bit of a hole in my soul, if you like. I was feeling umm. I feel a bit down, really.
And immediately when I heard that news, I just snap myself out. It’s like, man, I’m lucky to be alive. I spend a lot of time this weekend with my kids. I turned a lot of the social media off, which is, I rarely do that. I was hardly on WhatsApp. I was hardly on Facebook, which is, a rarity for me. Yeah, that was a great gift, and I think often, when you’ve got big challenges, just looking at your kids. Arianna said to me, daddy, can you draw in my back. Put your finger, and can you write things? I was writing, I love Arianna. Arianna is smelly. And she was trying to guess what I was writing with my finger on her back. Anyway, it was just lovely. I went to watch them have their park run. And it was awesome. So, contact is everything.
So, (A), you know what I’m about. I’m about sharing with you what’s going on in my life. And when I’m having massive wins, I’ll share them with you. When I’m having big challenges, I share with you. And when I’m having therapy, I’ll share it with you. When I figure something out I share it with you. When I struggle, I share it with you.
But man, Kobe Bryant, I mean, he’s one of the best basketball players of all time. He’s 41 years old, and I’m 41. I mean, that is awful. Yeah, I guess, I just want to take a moment on the live, on the podcast to just (A) honour that, a bit of hat tip to someone who did an amazing work, even though I didn’t know who he was personally, and to put stuff into context. Because if you put your life into context, then your challenges are not as bad. And that’s a real lesson for me as well as for all of us.
10 ways to breakthrough your business ceilings:
1. Create multiple streams of leads
If you have one lead source, just like, if you have one supplier or one client, you risk disruption. You risk them going bust. By the way, yesterday, I learned a very strong lesson about this, which I’ll tell you about when I’ve got permission to do so.
You need to not be over-reliant on one lead source. And also, if you have multiple streams of leads, you have multiple streams of income. And the more leads you have, the more clients you have, and the more income you have.
Many people who are coaches, consultants, trainers, product and service providers, their problem isn’t their product. Their problem isn’t their skill or their experience, or their ability to sell. Their problem is volume of leads.
And I always say to people, ah, it’s not going very well. I’m not converting. I’m not selling very well. I said, what if you have 100 times as many leads, what would happen. Now, as long as they’re not selling zero out of 10, because they might then sell zero out of 100, usually their problem is volume of leads.
You need to leverage social media. Leverage LinkedIn, Facebook Groups, Facebook Pages, Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads, Spotify Ads, Google Ads, CPA listening tools, joint-ventures, collaborations, Instagram organic, Instagram paid ads, LinkedIn paid ads. You could test YouTube, YouTube paid ads. You name it. There are loads of different exhibitions, shows, being a public speaker, ads on your podcast, ads on your YouTube Channel. There are so many ways to generate leads and income.
2.Focus on marketing
The second way to breakthrough your business ceiling, is, to focus on marketing. Marketing is the single most important function of any business. If you don’t focus on marketing at least half of your time, you’re not going to grow on your leads. You’re not growing your clients. You’re not going to grow your revenue. You’re not going to grow your reach, you’re not going to grow your impact.
Not enough people focus enough on marketing. They focus on everything else, product, service, admin, systems, software, HR, recruitment, all important, but not as important as marketing. No marketing, no leads, no revenue. It’s like a shop. Yeah, you might have good stock. You might have good salesperson. You might have good software. You might have someone comes in the shop, upselling a load of things in the shop. But if you can’t get anyone in the shop, you don’t have a shop. And getting people in the shop is marketing.
3. Hire more revenue generating staff.
That might be sales people, marketing people. That might be affiliates and ambassadors. But the more revenue generating staff you have, the more revenue you have.
I have a rule that between 2.5 and 5 times a salary should a revenue generating person in your team bring in. So, if you’re paying 350 grand, they should be bringing in 125 to 250 grand. If you’re paying them 20 grand, they should be bringing in 45-50 grand up to 80-100 grand.
By the way, you’re only pay that salary one-twelfth at a time over the year, and 30 days in arrears. So, one-twelfth, 30 days in arrears. One-twelfth, 30 days in arrears. One-twelfth, 30 days in arrears, which means, it’s not anywhere near as much risk as you think to pay an entire sales people.
Of course, sales you could pay one-quarter or up to one quarter in basic salary, and the rest could be commission. I’ve got staff that are under £20,000 salary, but earn 6 figures actual income when you take all their commissions into account.
4. Find a mentor
get a mentor who’s broken through the ceiling you’re hitting in your business, and figure out how they did it, what lessons they’ve got, what mistakes they’ve made, what made the biggest difference, what could you leverage that they’ve done. As they blaze the trail, could you follow the trail that they’ve blazed? Could you leverage and get vicarious experience from them?
If you’ve hit 250 grand to 500 grand, a million pound ceiling, and you’re stuck there, or you’re working harder and harder, get a mentor and say, hey, Mr Mentor or Mrs Mentor, did you get to the point, where you’re working harder and harder, and harder and harder, but the margin started going down? Or, you’re working harder and harder, and harder and harder, but actually, it didn’t seem that the revenue was going up in line. Yeah, I did. And what did you do? I got a PA, and an Ops Manager. Wrote this system. Created the Ambassador Programme. Created more lead sources. Did collaborations and joint-ventures, et cetera. Then you can be navigated through by a mentor, a coach, a businessperson who’s been multiple ceilings and levels above the ceilings and the levels that you’re at right now.
I believe in learning from eh mistakes of others, not yourself. And I believe in getting leverage by vicarious experience. Because you don’t have experience you don’t have yet. But you can nick 10 years’ experience of someone who’s had it, if you pay them, if you get mentored by them, if you listen to them, if you wine and dine them. They can give you some of their insight and wisdom and experience.
5. Work smarter, not harder
I refer to in my earlier point. You sometimes think, man, I’ve got to work harder. I’ve got to hustle. I’ve got to grind. The harder I work, the better it will be. But sometimes, the harder you work, the worst it is, because you burn out. Your communication or your managing of your emotions gets diminished. You make mistakes. There are breakages and bottle necks. You’re a bottle neck to your business growth. Because, even if you could do 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. You know, what is it then? 365 days, 24, 7, 365, mama. Well, no, actually, you would burn out. You would need rest. You can’t do that.
But people think the harder you work, the more successful you’ll get. Yeah, you need to work hard enough, and not have to work hard. But Robin Sharp has said to me, 5 good hours of work a day, nice deep dive, intense, focussed, good quality work, and that’s all you need to do on all you should do.
I’m just saying that sometimes, harder work just pushes results away, pushes people away, pushes partnerships away. You burn out. You stress out. You’re playing snakes and ladders. You have to have a few days off. You go back to the beginning. You lose your momentum. There’s a lack of consistency.
It’s about working smarter, to leverage before you manage. So, manage before you do. Leverage, then manage, then do. To think rather than hustle. To plan rather than just grind away. To figure out a problem, and take time to talk to people, and to ideate, and to discuss stuff on social media, and to slow down a bit. Now, sometimes, you have to work hard, and sometimes, you have to work smart. Just saying.
6. Admin support
You need admin support. If you’re working harder in income generating tasks, good on you. But you will also be doing your admin. You’ll be doing your emails, your Facebook messages. You’ll be doing your follow-up, your planning, your diary, your travel, your expenses, your tax returns. All of these is admin. And if you’re doing all of that, what you cannot do, is, key life areas, or key result areas, or income generating tasks.
Admin gets in the way of revenue. Now, admin is required, but it doesn’t mean its required by you. So, get a VA, get a PA, get that admin outsourced quickly so you can keep focussing on income generating tasks. Or, you can hire salespeople, and they can do income generating tasks, and then you can manage them as your income generating tasks. So, there’s double leverage there.
I believe your first 4 hires should be PA, Ops, marketing and sales in no particular order. Sales, if you’re not crap at sales, you’re not generating any money, but you’re getting leads. Marketing, if you’re not getting any leads. PA or VA, if your admin is all over the place, and you’re drowning in it. And ops, if there’s management, you know, if there’s staff or systems or processes to manage. But they’re your first 4 hires.
So many companies, they’ve got 10 or 20 staff, and they haven’t got many of those staff. If any of those staff under one company with 35 staff, no one in marketing. I mean that is crazy.
Leverage is the 7th way to breakthrough your business ceilings. Leverage social media platforms. Leverage staff. Leverage systems. Leverage software. Leverage mentors. Leverage other people’s experience. Leverage my social media profile, by hitting me up 500 stars so you can get shout-outs to my 140,000 followers.
Leverage the information, books, and audiobooks, and podcasts, and courses and masterminds, and mentorships especially, at the moment social media is great leverage, because it’s free. You can reach hundreds or even hundreds of millions of people for sure across all platforms. You know, you have to build up your following first. I mean, you could reach billions of people potentially in theory. Your ads, if you push them out, you could reach millions of people. You could build millions of followers. It might take time.
But are you using Facebook Groups? I think that’s one of the best leverages. Are you using LinkedIn? Because they give you the best reach. I think that’s one of the best leverages. Are you focussing again on YouTube? Do you have a podcast? Are you doing Facebook Lives? These all give you great leverage.
8. Collaborations and joint-ventures
8th of breaking through your business ceilings, is, collaborations and joint-ventures. If you can collaborate with someone who’s got an existing brand or who’s got an existing customer base, or can generate leads, or has got skills you haven’t, then one plus one equals 3 squared, instead of one plus one equals 2.
I have a partnership with Mark Homer. I’ve done many joint-ventures and collaborations. I did one recently with Jay Alderton who’s very well known in the fitness space. We’re both well known in our own space. So, he leveraged me and I leveraged him. I obviously, do podcast interviews, which is great leverage. And they often post out to their social media. I have affiliates and ambassadors and people who resell my books. I have speaker and trainer partnerships. You get exponential growth in partnerships.
In fact, there’s someone watching the livestream, I have just formed a partnership with. So, she’s getting extra exponential growth there. And that’s a smart move on her part.
9. Create a great product
No. 9 of 10 ways to breakthrough your business ceilings, is, to create a great product, or a new product, or some kind of innovation, or disruption, or trend. So, could you do something different? Could you sell to your existing customers a new product, a different product? Could you launch something new? Could you change a product you launch, and repackage it, and make it better and sexier? Could you create a crowdsourced Version 2 more improved product or service?
I’m really keen on launching a LinkedIn course. I’m really keen on launching a book writing course. I’m going to launch a Millionaires Mastermind in the future. So, I’ve got all these there and ready, when I maybe need to take my company to the next level or breakthrough the 25 or the 30 million-pound barrier, for example. So, could you do that while I’m guessing, you could?
10. Mastering your emotions
Then final one, No. 10, is, mastering your emotions. Man, this is the toughest one. I don’t often pat myself on the back. Entrepreneurs tend not to. I’m not very good at that. I’m going to do this for your benefit. I had 2 or 3 bits of very challenging news this weekend. Thankfully, it’s nothing to do with anyone’s health or well-being, because that obviously, would be a lot worse.
But business-related, we had some shit going on. And right before I’m going on stage, right in the middle while I’m on stage, and knowing when you get those messages, which it’s like, Rob, this is an emergency. You need to call me. And you don’t know what it is, because you haven’t been told, but your head is going around and around, and around. And I wouldn’t say I gave my best speech ever, but I definitely didn’t give my worst speech ever yesterday morning. I had to do 4 hours of speaking.
I was feeling challenged. But I had to pat myself on the back. Do you know what? I brought it. I did it. I didn’t wriggle out of it. I still put all the energy that I had. I literally didn’t have any energy left. I went for dinner after with about what? 50 people. I stayed till 9:15, which is late for me. Everyone could see I was freaking knackered. I had to do selfies with everyone, which is, usually I get to do, not I had to do. I was leaving. And people were pitching me stuff. People were in the carpark, and pitching me stuff. And I did it, and I delivered. I felt like, you know what when I got in that car, like that, I believe being professional is about doing what has to be done, regardless of what is going on in your life.
There has a been a couple of times this weekend. I was like, man, ah, I just want to go and hide. None of these things have made me really angry. I don’t really get so much angry anymore. But they did make me, oh, I want to be on my own. I want to eat all that Lindt chocolate in the fridge. I’ve got this lovely Lindt chocolate in the fridge, I won at the fitness challenge. It’s been there for 3 weeks. I just want to eat the whole bar today. Argh… uh hah huh… And I didn’t eat it either.
So not reacting to people, not reacting like a child, not acting like a chimp, not taking rejection badly, not lashing out, not having a go at people, not bitching, not complaining, not defending, not justifying, not controlling other people, not make, you know, not being entitled, not getting down, not beating yourself up, getting back up, not letting your confidence be hit. These are all things that you do, to master your emotions. And that usually involved having a word with yourself, breathing it out, allowing yourself to feel it, going through it without writing anything on Facebook or say anything to anyone.
So, managing your emotions and mastering your emotions is huge in business. And I believe the better you master your emotions, you just go to the next level, the next level, and the next level. And I was thinking, I walked to my friend’s house today to see him and his wife to give them some advice about writing a book. I thought to myself, you know what, I’ve definitely worked a lot on mastering my emotions over the years. And I’ve come a long way, baby as Fatboy Slim says.
But I know what my next level is. There are 2 things, which I know. You know what? I know I can go to a higher level then. I reckon, if I go to a higher level there, I reckon my brand, my reputation, is going to go to the next level. So, I think I’ll figure that out already. Now, of course, the challenge is when you get emotionally hijacked, and argh, like a stab in the heart. You know, when all the chemicals just fly around in your body, and you’re argh. You’re biting your lips. You just feel such strong triggering. That’s when the rubber hits the road.