01.28.20163 min read

The Tricky Thing About 7-Figure Businesses

Getting to a million is tough. It requires a certain mastery of sales and marketing that over 95 percent of business owners never figure out. But the tricky thing about running a seven-figure business is that what got you to that point won’t get you to the next milestone of 25-plus employees and about $3 million in annual sales.

All of the sales and marketing skills you developed on your way to a million are helpful and necessary as you grow from 1 million to 3 million in sales. But those skills are insufficient, and here’s why:

Once you have 10 employees, the game becomes more about leading people than making sales.

Most seven-figure business owners don’t figure this out soon enough. They charismatically or forcefully lead their companies the way they did on their way to seven figures, carrying most of the weight on their shoulders, feeling burdened by the business, but glad they’ve reached the million-dollar milestone.  But then things stop working. Growth slows. Employee problems arise. Grumbling on the team gets louder. Customers are complaining. And the business owner is frustrated.

There are, indeed, seven deadly sins of seven-figure businesses, and I’ll address those tomorrow. But most of them stem from the business owner not understanding this one powerful principle: Success beyond a million dollars per year in annual sales requires the business owner to become a people leader. Sales and marketing skills are still necessary, but they’re no longer sufficient.

This truth scares many entrepreneurs from ever trying to reach seven figures. “I don’t want the people problems,” “I’ll just stay small and earn a nice income,” and “I’ve learned I’m not cut out to be the boss of a bunch of people.” To me, that’s said because it limits what’s possible.

But here’s the good news: Every entrepreneur can lead people. It’s not an innate skill that can’t be learned. It’s not something you can only learn in business school. And it’s not a personality trait that some people developed in high school while others did not. But, I’ll tell you what people leadership is: it’s a “math block” for some entrepreneurs. Don’t be that entrepreneur. If you love your business and want to grow it past $1 million, recognize that you must lead people. And know that you can absolutely do it—in your own way!

SBS Idea of the Day: Resolve to learn the skills of people leadership just like you learned the skills of sales and marketing. If you have 10-plus employees, you are a people leader. Own it.  

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