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Strategies to Scale Your Online Business from $10 to $1 Million

how-to-scale-a-business-online

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If you haven’t figured it out yet, I love information marketing, and I love information businesses, courses, coaching, consulting, etc.

I’ve sold millions worth of information products in the past 20 years, and it feels incredible to teach and share what I’ve learned with other entrepreneurs about growing businesses online.

So, if you’re wondering how to scale a business online, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ll share a formula for scaling that I came up with many years ago. Twelve years later, I’m mystified by the fact that it still stands true today.

I’m going to break it down for you step-by-step, and by the end, you’ll have a clear blueprint to take your startup from $10 to over $1 million in revenue.

But before I go into details, let’s just quickly go over why many businesses fail to scale. This will help you better appreciate the formula I’ll give you later.

But first, an invitation. Do you want the latest strategies, insights, and hacks for growing your business? Join my exclusive Facebook group where we cover everything from offer creation to scaling.

Why Do Entrepreneurs Fail to Scale Their Business?

why-do-entrepreneurs-fail-to-scale-their-business

Scaling a business is more challenging than it looks. Many ambitious entrepreneurs fail to reach their growth goals.

Based on what I’ve seen through two decades of experience, most business failures related to scaling boil down to two key reasons: a lack of clear strategy and impatience.

Why You Need a Clear Strategy

Many entrepreneurs fail to scale because they don’t have a strategic scaling plan.

Most want overnight success and viral hacks that will make them instant millionaires.

But real talk – quick wins rarely lead to sustainable growth. Having a step-by-step scaling strategy does.

See, you tend to jump from tactic to tactic if you don’t have a clear strategy. Sure, this can feel productive and exciting, but you’re just winging it, and then, in the end, you wonder why you don’t achieve your goals.

Your strategy helps you stay focused. So, it’s easier to see where you’re falling short, which tactic is working, where you need to tweak things, etc.

A clear strategy is your roadmap. Without it, you’re merely drifting and hoping to stumble upon success. 

Why Impatience Kills Your Business

Many entrepreneurs rush to scale up fast and put the cart before the horse. They focus on advanced strategies like complex funnels before even testing if customers want their product!

They avoid picking a defined niche and validating early demand. Passionate, yes, but passion alone pays no bills! You have to make sure you have eager customers first.

They also don’t optimize conversions with better copy and offers before trying to scale expensive ads. Come on now. Higher conversions have to come first!

And the biggest sin? Ignoring building their audience from day one.

As I’ve learned, engaged communities provide the rocket fuel for exponential business growth. You can’t skip this step if you really want to have long-term business success.

The lesson is – slow down, be patient, validate quickly, and lay the foundation before chasing rapid growth. I promise you’ll scale greater heights by taking it step-by-step!

The Empire Formula: My 4-Stage Framework for Systematic Scaling

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After building multiple online businesses, I realized there are four distinct stages to scaling up strategically. I called in The Empire Formula.

I want you to imagine a pyramid. Like constructing a majestic pyramid block-by-block, the Empire Formula starts with a broad base and systematically builds up through stages toward a monumental outcome – a thriving digital empire!

Here’s the quickie – Stage 1 is about validating your biz by testing product-market fit and early demand. Stage 2 optimizes conversions with better funnels and copy. Stage 3 expands your product line-up. And Stage 4 accelerates growth by scaling paid ads.

For easy reference, I’ve outlined the revenue for each stage:

  • Stage 1: $0 to $100k in revenue
  • Stage 2: $100k to $1 million
  • Stage 3: $1 million to $3 million
  • Stage 4: Above $3 million

Now, it’s time to dissect these stages to see where you are and what things and tactics you should focus on for scaling effectively.

Conquering Stage 1: Testing Your Idea ($0 to $100k)

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Think of it like a “proof of concept” phase.

While making some initial sales, test 3 core assumptions:

  • Product-market fit: Will customers buy what you’re selling?
  • Marketing potential: Can you consistently reach/sell to people?
  • Profit drivers: Can you acquire buyers without spending tons on ads?

Keep things simple at first. Worry about complex funnels and pricey ads later.

Here are 3 tips to succeed in Stage 1:

Choose a Niche and Make it MICRO

I see this over and over – businesses that want to scale by targeting a broad market, thinking it will get them more sales.

Don’t go down this path! Go niche instead!

Even better, I want you to make that niche MICRO.

Why?

Niching down makes it easy for you to refine your product or service and better serve your target market.

Remember, your business can’t possibly be a good fit for EVERYONE. The problem with targeting a broad market is you risk becoming irrelevant to anyone.

By targeting a specific group, you can craft better offers, attract the right customers, and scale your business faster. 

Create a Simple Test Product

Let’s take the information business world.

Don’t spend 6 months building a complex course. You can start with a barebones Minimum Viable Product (MVP). You can even pre-sell it and say it’s in the beta stage.

I talked about this approach in detail with my good friend, Jason Fladien, a.k.a. Mr. Webinar. Jason explained his webinar sales strategy and how he and his team decided to release a beta version of their digital offer in the crypto space. Believe it or not, that offer raked in $$57.9 million in sales in just 226 days!

Just wanted to prove that you don’t always have to have a perfect product before you go to market. 

Make Those First Sales!

You created a simplified test product. But now comes the moment of truth – will real customers actually pay for it?

It’s time to get your product in front of your target niche and validate that people genuinely want what you’re selling. This is a critical proof point before investing heavily in paid ads or advanced funnels.

Instead of spending money on expensive advertisements to start, leverage free marketing channels to engage your niche directly:

  • Give Advice in Facebook Groups: Search for relevant groups where your target customers gather. Engage frequently by providing value – giving thoughtful advice, answering questions, etc. Once you’ve established authority and trust, subtly mention your new course in discussions where relevant.
  • Make YouTube Tutorials: Create a YouTube channel for your niche. Produce free video tutorials that provide real value and showcase your expertise. In your descriptions, link to your course sales page for those who want to go deeper or work 1-on-1.
  • Post Value on TikTok: Similarly, publish short, free training videos on TikTok tailored to your niche. Give genuinely helpful tips and hacks. In your profile, have a link directing interested viewers to check out your paid program.
  • Ask Friends and Family for Reviews: Lean on your own network, too. Mention your new course to friends and family, and ask them to support you by purchasing, leaving an honest review, and spreading the word.

At this validation stage, your only goal is to make those first 5-10 sales. Even generating $500 or $1000 in initial revenue proves you created something customers truly want. That small “win” is a huge milestone!

Before scaling up, use feedback from these early buyers to refine your course, marketing messages, and overall business model. Their insights will be invaluable.

Leveling Up in Stage 2: $100k to $1 Million

Woohoo! People love your product, and you’ve started to make some real income.

Now it’s time to scale from $100k to $1 million in revenue.

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The focus in Stage 2 is optimizing conversions to get more sales.

Here are 3 conversion boosters:

Funnels = More $$$

Sales funnels guide buyers through multiple offers for your products or services. This prevents you from losing potential sales opportunities when customers only make a one-time purchase.

For example, a typical e-commerce funnel might have these stages:

  • Free opt-in: Visitor gives email to receive a coupon or discount
  • Tripwire offer: Customer makes a small initial purchase to “test” your products
  • Core offer: Customer returns to buy your primary product they initially wanted
  • Advanced offer: Upsell customers on a higher-priced premium version or bundle

Essentially, you are creating multiple touchpoints and opportunities for customers to buy from you. The more offers, the more chances you have to make sales.

Even increasing your average order value from $20 to $40 with an upsell can drastically impact your revenue over hundreds or thousands of customers. Funnels turn one-and-done buyers into lifetime customers.

Better Copy = Higher Conversions

Once you have consistent initial sales, focus on improving your copywriting across your funnel and website. Persuasive copy that clearly communicates the value of your product converts more readers into buyers.

However, avoid over-complicating your copy in the beginning. Let your excellent product and core offer speak for themselves based on the sheer value you provide.

Later, you can begin systematically testing and tweaking your copy using split testing. For example, try different headlines and see which one boosts conversions. Or test rearranging your sales page layout.

This data-driven approach of continual optimization is how the top copywriters refine their funnels over time. Improved copy comes through testing and learning from actual customer behavior data.

Expand Your Audience

Remember,  your audience and community are the power source you harness to scale up your online business. 

Keep expanding your reach through:

  • Facebook and Instagram ads targeted to similar interests as your niche.
  • Sponsoring influencers or podcasts with relevant audiences and asking them to mention your offer.
  • Attending in-person industry networking events to connect with potential customers.
  • Retargeting visitors who engaged on your website by serving them relevant ads across the web.

The bigger your overall audience, email subscriber list, social following, etc., the more potential buyers you have for future offers and products. Continually growing your community pays dividends.

Entering Stage 3: Diversifying ($1 Million to $3 Million)

You did it – $1 million in revenue! You’ve now entered Stage 3 of the Empire Formula.

entering-stage-3-diversifying

Once you’re in this stage, it’s time to add more products.

So, how do you know what new products to create? Simple – listen closely to customer feedback and look for common opportunities. For example:

“I’d love a course on ____.”

“Are you available for 1-on-1 consulting?”

“When is your next live event?”

When you see people asking for a new offering, that’s a green light to give the people what they want!

Some proven products that your audience may request include:

  • Entry-level vs. advanced courses
  • Paid online communities
  • High-ticket consulting
  • Software tools/apps
  • Live seminars and events

Avoid stretching yourself too thin by adding too many new products at once. Carefully test 1 to 3 strong opportunities with the most significant perceived demand. Trust me, quality over quantity!

Big Leagues in Stage 4: Over $3 Million

At Stage 4, you likely have an established, smoothly-running business.

You’ve put in the work to build:

  • A loyal audience who knows, likes, and trusts you and your products.
  • Multiple proven offers making consistent bank month after month.
  • Effective advertising strategies and optimized sales funnels.
stage-4-is-the-time-to-scale-aggredsively-through-paid-advertising

Stage 4 is the time to scale aggressively through paid advertising.

Imagine you’ve been steadily spending $10K a month on Facebook ads. Now, you amp up to $100K monthly across every channel possible. For example:

  • Massive Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns targeting your buyers.
  • Promotions sent to your large email lists with thousands of engaged subscribers.
  • YouTube video ads optimized for your niche’s keywords.
  • Retargeting past visitors by serving them your ads across the web.

When all systems are running smoothly, heavily scaling paid traffic sources can rapidly skyrocket your revenue from millions to tens of millions annually. 

Case Study: How Akbar Sheikh Scaled His Online Business While Living in an Electrical Closet (Yes, You Read That Right)

akbar-sheikh

Akbar Sheikh is an excellent example of how you can apply the systematic scaling approach of the Empire Formula. He went from nothing to over $1 million in annual revenue in just a few short years.

I’ll highlight Akbar’s journey, focusing on how he leveraged organic marketing and audience nurturing to grow. His approach can provide a blueprint for anyone looking to scale up their online business. You can also watch my full interview with him. 

Akbar's Early Struggles

Akbar struggled with unhealthy habits and a lack of purpose earlier in life. He hit rock bottom both physically and mentally after a failed marriage. Akbar was overweight, battled anxiety, and lived paycheck to paycheck.

The turning point came when he almost died from mixing alcohol and medication. This scare motivated Akbar to transform his lifestyle completely. He lost 50 pounds, removed toxicity, and pursued personal growth.

Discovering Online Courses

While rebuilding, Akbar discovered online marketing. He was intrigued by the persuasion principles used in sales funnels and webinars.

Akbar created his first online course while still broke and living in a small electrical closet. He outlined organic marketing strategies aimed at entrepreneurs and experts.

The course allowed Akbar to make his first sales with no upfront investment. This validated the business model and product-market fit.

Nurturing an Audience on Social Media

Akbar knew he needed to build an audience for long-term success. He committed to posting daily videos on Facebook documenting his entrepreneurial journey.

The key was consistency. Akbar treated it like an episodic show that built familiarity and trust over time. He mixed valuable business insights with personal stories.

No fancy equipment or editing was required. Akbar simply used his phone to film short videos and went live. This lets him rapidly grow an engaged audience.

Making the First Sales

Within 30 days, Akbar made his first few course sales without spending a penny. He had identified a hungry niche and nurtured his audience.

Akbar continued improving the course based on customer feedback. After several iterations, sales velocity increased through word-of-mouth.

Optimizing the Funnel

Once the course was validated, Akbar began optimizing his sales funnel. He added tripwires and upsells to increase average order value. His monthly revenue doubled.

Akbar also started split-testing messaging on his sales pages. This further optimized conversions as he honed his copywriting skills.

Expanding the Product Ecosystem

Akbar expanded his product mix as his audience grew based on their feedback and requests. He added live events, high-ticket consulting, and entry-level courses.

Rather than add too much complexity too quickly, Akbar carefully tested 1-3 new offerings at a time. This diversification helped him grow from $1M to over $3M in annual revenue.

Lessons Learned

Akbar Sheikh’s journey demonstrates how scalable an online business can become when you follow a structured growth strategy. He succeeded by:

  • Validating a hungry niche and product fit
  • Consistently nurturing his audience
  • Optimizing his sales process before paid ads
  • Expanding his product ecosystem to fulfill demand
  • Maintaining focus on organic marketing and automation

By progressing sequentially through the key scaling stages, Akbar was able to grow a highly profitable online business. 

His approach of identifying a niche, nurturing an audience, and systematically optimizing provides an excellent blueprint for anyone looking to build a scaled-up online business from the ground up.

Take the Next Step to Scale Your Business

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You’re now well-acquainted with the different stages of The Empire Formula. Use it as your guide to scaling your business. Exciting stuff!

But remember – the Empire Formula is a lifelong journey, not something you check off and finish overnight. Take it step-by-step and enjoy the ride.

Now, I’d love to hear from you.

What key takeaways resonated most from this article?

Do you have any lingering questions about the scaling stages?

How can I best support you in your business going forward?

Tell me all about it when you join our free Expert Scale Facebook group.

Ask me your questions or connect with fellow entrepreneurs raking in MASSIVE success with their businesses.

See you on the inside!

Click here to join our Facebook group today.

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