If you are looking to build an empire and not just a piddly part time income, this article should help you. There is nothing wrong with seeking out a ‘lifestyle’ business, where you earn a humble income on the side to fund a humble lifestyle, working a little less and earning a little more. But that is not for everyone. Some people love to build things that matter, are vast, and last. Some people want to build a legacy. Some people want to make millions (or billions) and don’t want to sit on a beach sipping cocktails, they want an empire.
Here are the 9 things you need to build your own empire, in your (or virtually any) niche:
1. Build Assets
You can exchange your time for earnings or a salary, or you can exchange your time to build assets. Exchanging your time for some form of money pays the short term bills, but doesn’t build anything for the future, because once the hour is worked and the money is earned, the process needs to be repeated. So essentially you are selling your time, which you can never get back, and you can’t invest into building your empire.
Property was the first business I got into that I earned a good living from. I struggled as an artist. The day I stopped as an artist, I earned no more money from it, and had zero recurring benefit. I couldn’t even carry over the experience and knowledge because I went into a very different niche. Property, however, is very different. And it worked out much better for me. I bought 20 properties in year one with my business partner, 30 in year two for ourselves and other partners, and 50 in year three. I still own many of them today, more than a decade on. Each one I still own I get residual monthly income, and many of these properties have doubled or more in value. The time was ‘exchanged’ to ‘build’ (not literally) them more than a decade ago, and they still produce residual income and leverage.
Property is not the only asset. I have also authored or co-authored 11 books. The first one I wrote in 2008. Each book is an asset, and even if each one only sold 1,000 per month (many sell much more), that would be 11,000 books per month. For a decade now. And then I converted many of them to Audible, where I sell at a roughly 2 to 1 ratio compared to Amazon. For 10 of those 11 books I did not get paid upfront (advance). I exchanged the time for NO money, and each book took months. But I built an asset that has been paying residual, monthly passive income for a decade, far more than if I had been paid for my time to write, like a freelancer might.
You can do this for your blogs and content, podcasts, YouTube videos, IP, systems, processes and business manuals, software, apps, franchise models and many other long term, asset based models. Exchange as much time as you can in building assets rather than selling your time for an hourly rate.
2. Cross Stream Leverage
Many people start then change then stop. Then start then change then stop. Then repeat. Each time they start a new venture or niche, they start right back at the beginning. As you have to work hard not to have to work hard, all the work is at the start and all the money at the end. So you never get to the money if you keep starting but not finishing. It is therefore vital that you start and keep going. When you desire to change your career or niche, which you will likely do over time, make sure you move into something where you can carry forward your existing experience and assets. This goes for starting a new career as well as creating a new income stream to your existing ones.
I went from studying architect to pub landlord to artist. All totally unrelated and therefore no relevant knowledge to carry over. Then I got into property (here I go again; totally unrelated), and so for the forth time in 7 years started at the bottom. Then I finally got it. I started to buy properties with my business partner. Then we set up a deal sourcing business, where 80% of what we learned buying for ourselves was relevant and could be carried into buying properties for others. Then we wrote a book (about property), putting on paper all that we learned. Then we started running courses (teaching what we learned). Then we set up a letting agency (managing all the properties we already owned). Then we bought bigger properties (carrying our experience of buying 100s of small ones forward).
If you want to start again (again), or get into something new, make sure you can carry your experience forward using ‘cross stream leverage’. Be wary of getting distracted and spreading yourself to thin.
3. Build a team
No one built an empire on their own with their Mum saving their receipts. Sure, you can run a ‘lifestyle’ business on skeleton staff, but if you want vast and lasting wealth, scale and sustainability, then you need a team. As they say, there is no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM’. you need to hire up in your areas of weakness. You need to hire up people smarter than you. You need to hire specialists so you can remain the generalists. You have a maximum capacity for quality work; that could be 4, 6 or 8 good hours a day. If you have 10 great people that’s 40, 60 or 80 good hours a day. Sure, it takes money to hire people, and time to train them, and time to find good people. These are all investments of time, and the opportunity cost of not hiring up is not having an empire.
4. Become a leader
As you build your team and your empire grows, so does your responsibility. So does the team that look up to you for directions. If you have a team and you work on tasks and tactics, they will not know what to do, where to move towards, and will end up doing what they want and not what you want. So your job as the leader of your empire is to create a compelling vision that inspires your team and your customers, to continually communicate that vision to inspire them to work towards it (for you, and for them), give them to resources to do meaningful work, then let then get on with it. Managing and leading are NOT the same. Richard Branson doesn’t drive the trains and fly the planes. Elon Musk doesn’t hand build the rockets. Vision. Inspire. Lead. Hire out and leverage the rest.
5. Reinvest in innovation & improvement
If you don’t keep feeding and funding innovation, you will slowly die. You can be guaranteed that your competition will be striving to improve, so you better had too. Of course you can invest time to improve your products, services, vision and solutions, but you can also re-invest profits or externally raised finance. I like to use a guideline of drawing around 50% of net profits from my ventures, and reinvesting the other 50% into staffing, research and development, innovation and constant improvement. this will increase your future profit and longevity.
6. Multiple Streams of Income (MSOI)
One income stream holds great risks. If the market changes, if you have a health scare or lose your passion for your one source of income, it call all be over quickly. An empire is not just about the amount of money and assets, but how many you have. An empire is solid and unshakeable, and therefore multiple assets and income streams are required for both scale and protection. Underlying the income stream is the asset, so build assets, generate the income, and then systemise and secure the asset (like a property rented out or a book live on Amazon) so it keeps paying income. Over time, increase the size and volume of assets (more books, bigger properties, more followers and customers, higher value products). Do not try to do 3-5 from day one, as that will be too many, too soon, and you will be spread too thin. You will get overwhelmed and won’t be able to manage them all. Time to get any of them paying will dramatically increase, you will waste a lot of time going between them and you might give up. use my 70-20-10 model, where you fun 3 concurrently but divide your work time 70% to your main income stream, 20% to your secondary income stream & 10% to your future income stream. Compartmentalise and batch your time so you are focused on each one when you need to be. This will balance the risk of one with the overwhelm of five. Systemise one at a time and introduce a new one. Scale each one when systemised. Do this for decades and you will have a vast and lasting empire.
7. Set up a foundation
As you build your wealth and empire you will likely and simultaneously want to, benefit from, and be forced to set up a foundation. The secret to living is giving. Once you have done all you can you may want to help others, and society will look to you to take personal and social responsibility to give back. I used to give away £100,000s to charity year after year, but it never quite sat right as I didn’t know where it was going or how the money was being used. I also, like you, have my own causes I believe in. One of the commonalities of billionaires is that they set up foundations, and it is good to model the traits of the greats. Create and expand a vision much bigger than you, donate some time and money to help others, and in turn your empire will grow further. And it feels great.
8. Build a Brand
A brand is a leveragable reputation and relationship with your customers, followers and fans. It is latent goodwill that you can cash in or exchange. It is the memory of you promise to others consistently in awareness. It is the manifestation of your vision & values packaged into something tangible that helps others. In order to build your brand be clear of your vision of how you want to make an impact in the world, be authentic to your values and who you are, and then use all media outlets you can to get your message, products and services out there. Balance your uniqueness with solving meaningful problems for your target audience. Set up all online assets and media. You are now your own TV and radio station with YouTube and Podcasts. You are your own advertiser, broker, agent and PR company through all the social and business online channels. Put great value out to the world consistently and people will come to you magnetically. It takes time and consistency.
9. Build your followers, fans, customers & database
The companies in the world who sell for billions yet have very little revenue, hardly any staff and not much history, like Instagram and Twitter, sell for billions because of the amount of users they have. The money is in the list. See your subscribers, followers, fans and customers as assets, and treat them as such. Build up multiple platforms for your message, products and services, whether that’s Pinterest or Instagram or Facebook or LinkedIn or Medium or Reddit or YouTube or Podcasts or all of them. Focus on the main one that suits you and your market best, and repurpose your content across them. From time to time offer incentives to follow you on different profiles so that each one grows and you aren’t too reliant one one.
I will often do a Facebook Live video, then my outsourcer will take the best 5-7 minutes and post it on LinkedIn. He will take one minute excerpts for Instagram and we will record the audio often for a podcast episode. This is 4 to 10 pieces of content (assets) for one unit of time/message. This is leverage. This is building and asset. This is building a brand. This is building an empire.
I hope you got value from these 9 areas to focus on to build your empire. I wish you all the luck. Stay consistent. Do something everyday no matter how small. Maximise and leverage your time on assets and repurpose your assets to get multiple streams of income (MSOI)
By all means follow me on these platforms and model how I do it so you can too (please credit me with work you borrow, but by all means borrow):