From Freelance to Formidable: The ONE Skill You Need to Build a Million Dollar Business

by | Business Strategy

From Freelance to Formidable: The ONE Skill You Need to Build a Million Dollar Business

by | Jul 1, 2016

Regardless of the industry or model, all businesses grow through very similar progression (see the infographic below). These stages start with “Freelancer/Solopreneur” and work all the way up to the “Big Corporate Player.”

This article addresses the push from stage two (“Partnership”) to stage three (“Steady Operation”). This is often a critical step in the business growth journey, and a lot of people get hung up here.

You started a business. It began as a side hustle, maybe, but then grew to the point at which you could quit your day job. You have a killer product or service (that you need to turn into a product, if you haven’t already) and some leads have come your way.

But, now you’re stuck.

What do you need to focus to get to the next stage?

The Stages of Small Business Success

Two Wrongs and a Right

I’ll give you the answer here in a second, but let’s first talk about some wrong answers.

If you said, “Let’s make some T-shirts, or some pens, or a couple coffee mugs with our company name on them!”, you are incorrect.

Remember: every failed startup “founder” has the t-shirt to prove it.

There are a lot of missteps you can make during this dangerous time in your business’ life cycle, but let’s not make this one. It’s important to realize that branded crap is not going to push you forward. Save the swag for later, if ever.

If this is where you find yourself, don’t worry. If you are currently making less than $150k per year and simultaneously wearing a visor with your “brand” on it, also don’t worry. Take it off, of course, but not in a worried sort of way.

Here’s your correct answer:

The one skill you have to develop if you want to take your business from being a freelancer or a tiny mom-and-pop shop to pulling in seven figures is salesmanship.

Get Salesy

A lot of people approach their business like they’re channeling the tall, indistinct, blandly smug ghost of Kevin Costner: “Build it and they will come.”

But of course, you’ve probably realized already that this isn’t the case. It’s just not how the world works. Unless you’re James Earl Jones (in which case, congrats!).

For the rest of us though, you could offer the best products on earth, but if you aren’t out there selling, no one is going to buy. To continue the Kevin Costner theme, you won’t hit anything if you’re not swinging.

The Inevitable “But”

But what if you’re not a good salesperson?

Some people are naturally good at sales. Their brains are tuned to that station by default, and they seem to have no trouble helping people buy whatever it is that they’re selling. I get that.

But that doesn’t mean that salesmanship is ONLY something you are either born with or not. Great selling techniques can be taught, and they can also be learned. Take it from someone who is absolutely not a born salesman, but has managed to learn the skill.

So, here are some tips for starting your sales education:

Read Up

Despite how it might seem sometimes, sales is not rocket science. It’s a system. And there are hundreds of thousands of books and podcasts and blogs out there that can teach you, step by step, how to sell.

To get you started, here’s my personal favourite.

Build a Sales Pipeline.

This is a great exercise that not only can be put into action the moment after you’ve completed it, but it also provides a good visual for what the sales process really looks like.

You can learn more here.

Draft Some Sales Slicks.

These are nice to have around, both in hard copy and digitally. A sales slick should show your product, explain the benefits of it to your prospect, and then give clear direction on how they can buy it.

You don’t have to get super fancy; the key is just to make everything clear, simple, and to the point.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

Have a Very Clear Process for Delivering Your Product/Service.

File this under “generally having your shit together.”

It’s hard to sell something if you’re not quite sure how the delivery process is going to work. And it’s impossible to hire effective sales people without these systems in place.

You need to make sure that there’s a system in place and that you understand that system. A big part of salesmanship is confidence. And one of the ways that confidence will come across to your prospect is through you knowing what you’re talking about and being able to explain things clearly.

Focus on Solving Your Prospect’s Problem.

Your customer has a problem, and you have the solution; “sales” is simply working to bridge that gap. If you know your products, services, systems, and understand what your customer needs (even when they don’t), you’re way more than halfway there already.

Learning how to sell will revolutionize your business. Once you get proficient at it, you will be blown away by how different—brighter, shinier!—your world will look.

If your product is great, more people need to experience it. And that’s your responsibility.

Focus on the sales process, practice every day, with every prospect, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly the gap between you and that million dollar business will shrink.

I hope you take this information and start using it today to turbocharge your business and take it to the next level.

We help small business owners and entrepreneurs like you every day build out big, beautiful workflows that take the load off your shoulders and place them squarely onto the bottom line. If you want to learn the secrets behind how successful businesses are killing it, download our FREE ebook.


Jake Lunniss
COO • Benelds

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