2023 is almost upon us, and it’s the perfect time to launch your business idea or jump start the growth of an existing one. Many people who read this column have set a personal goal of growing revenue at solopreneur or tiny businesses to $1 million—or a personal number that will bring them the security and freedom they can’t find at a traditional job.
So how do you get there? There’s no one-size-fits-all formula. Based on my research and interviews with many seven-figure entrepreneurs, you need to be doing many “right” things at the same time.
So what are those things? For my 2022 book Tiny Business, Big Money (W.W. Norton & Co.), I surveyed 50 entrepreneurs running businesses with $1 million in revenue. Most had fewer than five employees and some relied exclusively on teams of contractors.
Based on that survey, here are seven things you can do to follow their path:
1. Automate: If you’re doing rote work in your business that could be done by an app or software programs, you’re probably wasting time that could be better devoted to strategy, R&D, sharpening execution or growth. 90% of those surveyed said they use automation in their business.
2. Find great contractors. 100% of the entrepreneurs rely on at least on contractor. Often, this starts with hiring a virtual assistant for a few hours a week and evolves to using contractors for tasks such as social media.
3. Join an entrepreneurship group. 45% of the entrepreneurs belong to one. If you’re an introvert, join an online group where you can chat from the comfort of your living room. You’ll still be able to expand your thinking and your network.
4. Find a business coach, formal or informal. If you’re running your business on a shoestring, find a peer coach. 37% of the entrepreneurs said they have a coach.
5. Make time for exercise. 88% exercise, with the top choices being yoga and strength training. If you’re hunched over your computer for too long, you will be less productive.
6. Support your spirit. 64% of the entrepreneurs have a mind/body, spiritual or religious practice. Life isn’t just about business for many of these entrepreneurs. They embrace a deeper purpose.
7. Don’t hire prematurely. The businesses that hit $1 million reached that revenue level after four years on average and hired their first employees after four years. Why four years? That’s a subject for further research, but what it told me is that waiting to add jobs until you can confidently make payroll can result in better cash flow and sustainability.
These steps may seem deceptively simple, but as with all positive habits, there’s a knowing-doing gap. Adding even one to your repertoire can be a great way to build momentum in your business. Before you know it, it’ll be easier to incorporate more of them, and take your revenue to the next level.