Welcome back to the final article in our six-part series on the journey from First Sale to Full Freedom.
(We covered this model extensively back in the first installment of this series, so if you need a refresher, click here.)
In our last article, we:
- Talked about the Phase 4 of the journey in detail
- Examined exactly what you need to know to identify if you’re currently in this phase
- Showed you how you can successfully navigate to the next level (while avoiding the common pitfalls + obstacles that could prevent you from doing so)
As a reminder, here’s a graphic to show you what the journey looks like from start to finish:
In this article, we’re going to go deep on Phase 5 – Achieving Freedom.
We’ll start off by examining the typical business profile of a brand in this phase of their evolution.
We’ll then move on to talk about:
- What your Core Focus should be at this point
- The Key Levers you should dial in on and the critical Mindset Principles you can focus on to achieve success as quickly as possible
- The Biggest Pitfalls you need to avoid and Powerful Success Strategies you can use to navigate around the obstacles you’ll encounter during this part of your journey
By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of how your brand can move from the start of this phase (not yet having made a sale) to the end (making your first sale).
Let’s get started!
Is This You?
If you’re in this phase of your journey, you probably:
- Have consistent, high levels of sales (typically $50,000+/month)
- Enjoy decent levels of profit from your core products
- Experience stable demand through organic channels, paid acquisition and referrals from existing customers
- Have a solid team you can rely on
- Have realized that you can’t afford to be a bottleneck in your business anymore
This phase is characterized by the need to let go.
You’ve got a lot going for you. But to take things to the next level, you need to transform your business into an asset that can operate completely without you.
When you’ve done that, you’ll have achieved complete freedom.
Aspect #1 – Core Focus
At this stage of your journey, there’s only one thing you need to worry about:
Putting systems in place to achieve complete freedom from the day-to-day operation of your business.
If you love what you do, separating yourself from the day-to-day might seem unthinkable.
But here’s the truth:
A business that depends on you to keep operating is vulnerable.
If you can build the structures required to let your team confidently manage your business without your direct input, you’ll finally be freed to focus on the stuff that moves the needle.
And when you can, you’ll have a brand that gets fantastic reviews from satisfied buyers – just like Loox customer Proof Syrup:
Aspect #2 – Key Levers & Critical Mindset Principles
It’s not enough to just be clear on what you should prioritize. To ensure that you stay on track, you need actionable tools and reliable metrics you can use to keep making progress.
With that in mind, there are three Key Levers you should use to ensure you make progress – and three Critical Mindset Principles to help you get the most out of each.
Now, let’s focus on each in more detail.
Lever #1 – Focus Hours Directed
When you’re just getting your business off the ground, you need to make consistent progress on the things that matter most.
When you’re up and running, you need to keep finding the highest impact activities to fill your day with.
However, at this stage in your journey – when you’ve built your team and are looking to reach the next level – it’s not just about how much focused time you can put in by yourself…
It’s about how much productive time your team can invest to move your business forward.
Critical Mindset Principle – Steer the Ship
Don’t just see yourself as a crew member anymore. Instead, see yourself as the captain of the ship.
While you may not be the one cleaning the decks, cooking the meals, or unfurling the sails anymore, you’re the person everyone needs to set their bearing.
It’s simple, but that small change could make all the difference.
Lever #2 – Core Systems Documented
As you assemble your team, you naturally start to build systems for most of the things your employees work on.
Sometimes, this is intentional. Other times, it happens as people learn how to best meet the demands of their role.
However, these systems aren’t always clearly documented. And that’s a problem.
Unless you deliberately specify how to maintain high standards across the board, you won’t won’t be confident your team can do so.
When it comes to systems, structure will set you free.
Critical Mindset Principle – Adapt and Evolve
Our number one tip for building solid structure in your business:
Realize that systems adapt and evolve over time.
Take the pressure off yourself to create perfectly future-proof procedures that cover every possible problem.
Get a good starting point in place, then empower your team to modify them over time as required.
Do this, and you’ll be one step closer to the ultimate freedom you’re searching for.
Lever #3 – Partnership Offers Received
Throughout this series, we’ve often talked about the dangers of relying too heavily on rented channels.
We talk about this because many ecommerce businesses don’t really understand the risks of all their traffic coming from social media…
Until they wake up one day and see that their account is banned.
Likewise, you don’t want to become overly reliant on brand partners. That said, they’re a valuable asset to your business when they come in the right package.
Critical Mindset Principle – Encourage Inbound Offers
And as you work towards achieving freedom from your business, you’ll find that inbound offers are much more attractive than prospecting for connections yourself.
Some ways you can invite inbound offers:
- Create a dedicated page on your website that potential partners can use to get in touch with you.
- Let existing brand partners know that you’re looking for ambassadors.
- Announce open submissions on social media and reward anyone that sends new promoters your way.
- Link up with marketing agencies or brands in other industries who are well-connected.
When you encourage inbound offers, your business will start to grow on autopilot. And that will bring you one step closer to freedom.
Aspect #3 – Biggest Pitfalls & Powerful Success Strategies
No two entrepreneurial journeys are exactly the same.
But as different as your story may be, there are a few pitfalls that you – just like most other ecommerce brands – will encounter along the way.
To help you navigate these obstacles, we’ll now:
- Profile them in detail (so you know what to watch out for), and
- Give you some high-value strategies you follow to stay on track for success
Here’s what’s up next:
☠️ Pitfall #1 – Premature Celebration
You’ve come a long way on your journey so far.
With the finish line in sight, it would be easy to think your work is done and that it’s time to coast…
But that would be a mistake.
To attain complete freedom from your business, you need to see this process through to the end.
And to do that, you’re going to need a full team of leaders on your side.
🚀 Powerful Success Strategy – Develop Leaders
The people you work with are an invaluable asset to your business.
If they stay as functional “followers” the whole time they work for you, they’ll only be exercising a fraction of their potential.
To take your business to the next level, you can’t be the only person who’s willing to step up and commit to massive action.
Encourage your team to tap into the leadership qualities lying dormant within them.
With a full team of “Managers of One” on board, you’ll be in a fantastic position to guide your business to the successful completion of this phase.
☠️ Pitfall #2 – Parkinson’s Law
In a 1955 essay for “The Economist”, Cyril Parkinson coined the principle that would later go on to be called Parkinson’s Law:
Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
There are examples of this law in practice everywhere we look.
As your business scales, you should naturally start to have less things to do on a given day…
But you may not work any fewer hours.
Luckily, there’s a simple strategy you can use to counter this issue.
🚀 Powerful Success Strategy – Focus on EHR
EHR stands for Effective Hourly Rate. Simply put, it’s the amount of revenue (or income) generated per hour spent on a given activity.
This isn’t always easy to determine. For example, it can be hard to calculate the ROI of working on new angles for a marketing campaign. But as a thought exercise, it’s incredibly valuable.
Focus on completing the small number of items that will make a real difference – those with high EHR – and enjoy increasing amounts of free time as a result.
☠️ Pitfall #3 – Poor-Fit Partnerships
As the owner of your brand, there’s one area of business you’ll probably remain involved in for as long as you want to continue:
Vetting new partners.
Expect to spend a lot of time meeting high-profile influencers, other business owners, and industry specialists.
As the brand owner, your time is valuable: these meetings don’t come without cost.
To minimize the risk of wasting time on poor-fit partnerships, here’s what you need to know…
🚀 Powerful Success Strategy – Think Win-Win
Earlier in your development, most of the partners you want to work with are going to be ahead of you in some way (e.g. more established, more followers etc).
To work with them, you might need to give more than you receive from your collaboration upfront. That’s normal.
However, when you reach this point, you don’t need to set aside your own interests anymore.
If you can’t see the partnership being mutually beneficial for both you and the other party involved, don’t pursue it.
Abiding by this simple rule will help you to avoid major stress as you work towards attaining freedom.