Grow Your Business: How I Went from $0 – $16M+ in 5 Years

Growing a business is far from “easy,” but it is still possible with the right systems and knowledge in place.

I started college with intentions of graduating with a degree in business…but dropped out after I quickly realized that those professors had never actually run a business.

So instead of college, I started reading books and learning from people who had done what I wanted to do.

And now I want to give back in that same way by breaking down my methods for growing Self-Publishing School from $0 to over $16 Million in only 5 years.

grow your business

Here are the steps to grow your business:

  1. Know your promise and audience
  2. Create a product or service that’s the best
  3. Write a book
  4. Generate high-quality leads
  5. Invest in learning
  6. Put the right people in the right roles
  7. Charge what it’s worth
  8. Offer low-ticket products
  9. Build partnerships
  10. Work on your referral game
  11. Speak at stages
  12. Listen to your customers
  13. Bloom where you’re planted

The ONLY 3 Ways to Grow a Business

Before we get into the specific action-items from this, I want to touch on the only three ways you can really grow a business in terms of the revenue-generating portion.

#1 – Get more customers

#2 – Increase the average order value

#3 – Increase purchase frequency

While these are the three main ways you will increase revenue to grow your business, I’m touching on the actionable steps you can take in order to accomplish these.

#1 – Know your promise & audience

This is a really basic business concept. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, how can you possibly market to them effectively?

Before you can really start crafting messaging or even content to cater to your target market, you have to know a ton about them and even create an “avatar profile” for them.

Answer these questions about your target audience:

This is a great place to start and from there, you can craft your winning message to fit this exact avatar, which increases conversion down the road because you’re speaking “directly to them.”

#2 – Create a product or service that’s the best

We have a core value here at SPS of Best is the Standard and that should actually be the standard for every business owner.

And it’s not just creating the best product or service for your niche, it’s creating one that fulfills the deepest needs of your target audience.

But remember that you don’t have to have a perfect product in order to launch it.

Done is better than perfect.

Here at SPS, we actually do internal launches of new products to our list and existing students at a discounted rate. This allows them to act as beta testers so we can find areas of improvement before launching to the public.

how to write a book quote

#3 – Write a book

“I bet you say that to everyone,” is probably what you want to tell me.

As someone who makes a living from other people writing books, it makes sense for you to question this advice but let me tell you this:

Without publishing my books, I wouldn’t have been able to grow Self-Publishing School to what it is today.

And this is largely due to my books serving as yet another customer acquisition channel.

We actually use my bestselling book Published. as a lead generation tool in order to pull in leads—and those who have read this book are actually much better qualified to convert and become students.

You can get a free copy of Published. right here if you’re looking to start this for yourself.

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#4 – Find a great way to generate leads

Generating leads, specifically high-quality leads, is one of the hard parts of growing a business. You have to get people to opt-in to what you’re offering.

We do a really good job at lead generation here at SPS, bringing in a couple thousand really great leads each week.

Think about these things when crafting your lead gen tool:

  • What’s the problem you’re trying to solve?
  • How BIG of a problem is it (it should be huge for them)?
  • What’s the result they’ll receive?
  • Make it easy for them to opt-in to, 3 clicks max (click to opt-in, fill in email and click to submit, get it as an instant download or deliver in an email)
  • Make it really high quality—this is really the “first impression” for what you have to offer, even more so than free content on your site

#5 – Invest in learning

I can’t tell you how much I’ve spent on learning in order to grow my business.

The number of books I’ve consumed alone is astonishing to most people and they likely will never read/listen to that many books in their lifetime. This is one of the biggest advantages I’ve given my company.

And books aren’t all, either. I’ve invested in other’s systems and products in order to grow Self-Publishing School to where it is today and always recommend other people do the same.

If you’re looking for a solid way to grow your business (that most people don’t even know about, much less are using), check out this training to get started.

#6 – Put the right people in the right roles

One of the things we do best at SPS is our hiring process. I talk about that a bit in this video here, but overall, we work really hard to make sure the right people with the right skills are in the right places, doing the right things.

Say that 5 times fast!

Here’s a quick overview of the necessary steps for hiring the right people:

  1. Create a job scorecard
  2. Source candidates
  3. Pick the best candidate
  4. Sell them on the position

Job Scorecard: This is basically an overview of the role of the job, like what the mission or purpose of the role is, the job title, the core competencies, and the most important part: the outcomes and results of the first 90 days with which KPIs will be measured.

Source Candidates: This can be one of the hardest parts, but what I really try to focus on is getting as many high-quality candidates as possible by leveraging my team and contacts to refer people along with personal reach-outs on LinkedIn, Facebook, and really anywhere I can. As a minimum, I like to have 100 candidates per position.

Pick the best candidate: This is really subjective, obviously, but one thing to really look for are candidates who have a long history at certain organizations or look at whether or not they were pulled or pushed out, meaning were they headhunted and offered a new, better job or were they fired multiple times? I go into more detail about this in the video linked above you can check out.

Sell them on the position: Make sure it’s a step up from their current or past positions both in salary and work environment. What I’ve seen in hiring people where it would be considered a “step down” in salary is resentment later on, and a higher turnover rate. Really sell them on the benefits your company offers as well. At SPS, we’re completely remote, which saves a ton of money and time in commute and we offer twice-monthly house cleanings paid for by the company, among many other benefits.

It’s hard to cover a really great hiring process in order to effectively grow your business in a short section, so check out this more detailed video if you want to know more.

#7 – Charge what it’s worth

When I first got started with SPS, I had no idea what to charge. And because I was one of the first in my field, I didn’t have too many examples or competitors to base this off of.

In the video above, I talk a lot about pricing yourself effectively and fairly, but the bottom line is to charge what it’s worth, keeping things like time saved and other benefits at the forefront.

Don’t just hit up a competitor and price yourself accordingly but really think about the offer, your demographic, and how you can use those (along with a more detailed breakdown of what you can afford to charge to keep the business profitable) to determine a fair price point for your product or service.

#8 – Offer low-ticket products

One of the best things you can do to grow your business is increase the conversion of your core offer product/service and a solid way to do that is to offer a low-ticket product.

It might seem counterintuitive but what this does is moves the prospect from lead to customer, and this shift in relationships is crucial.

We do this at SPS by offering a free copy of Published. and all they have to do is pay shipping, along with our Book Outline Challenge, a low offer that helps prospects see how quickly we can help get them results.

#9 – Build partnerships

This is an area we’re really working to expand at Self-Publishing School for a number of reasons.

  1. It helps us reach new audiences
  2. We’re able to build connections for the future as well as the present
  3. We can leverage these partnerships to help our students succeed more
  4. Partnerships are another revenue-generating channel

We’ve worked out a ton of partnership deals that have won us revenue, stage slots (which we’ll get to below), and discounts/specials for our students.

All of that has aided in our business growth over the last two years, and it’s just the beginning.

#10 – Work on your referral game

Word of mouth is so powerful. People trust those close to them and by those people recommending you and your product, you’ll have customers closing at a much higher rate through referrals.

Here are a few ways you can build a referral system into your business:

  • Offer a discount for both the current customer and referral they help bring in
  • Ask your customers to refer someone via email or another form of communication (automate this shortly after they’ve had a “win” or success with your business)
  • Give your customers the very best and they’ll refer on their own
  • Develop a reward system for “top referrers”
  • Automate any and all of these processes the best you can

#11 – Speak at stages

It’s so surprising how many business owners don’t want to or don’t even think about speaking on stages to grow their business.

In 2018, stages were a million-dollar revenue channel for SPS.

By getting booked to speak on stages about the benefits of writing a book and why I believe everyone should write a book, we were able to close prospects at a much higher rate just by being in-person.

Not only that, but being on those stages places you as an authority, as well as allows you to develop new partnerships to grow your business in other ways as well.

#12 – Listen to your customers and the right KPIs

The information coming into your business is invaluable.

You need to know what people are saying, what issues they’re having, and you also have to be tracking the right KPIs if you really want your business to grow.

Your customers know what they want and they know when things aren’t working. Listening to them and what your KPIs are saying will give you exactly what you need to grow your business.

Check out the video above for which KPIs can drive real performance and growth in your company.

#13 – Bloom where you’re planted

I talk a lot about this often because really, it’s the best place to be, no matter what I’ve listed above.

The quick rundown of this idea is to do your very best no matter what! No matter where you are right now or where you want to go, doing your best no matter what the task at hand is the most important.

People always notice—people are always watching and you never know how that can impact you and your business in the future.

Another way of thinking about this is to remain humble. Never become spoiled or entitled no matter where you’re at.

Bloom where you’re planted and that can make the biggest difference in your business long-term.

Chandler Bolt

Chandler is the host of the Self Publishing School podcast & the author of 6 bestselling books including his most recent book titled “Published.”. He’s also the founder & CEO of Self-Publishing School, the #1 online resource for writing your first book. Self Publishing School made the INC 5000 in 2018 (#2,699) as one of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the US. Through his books, podcast, training videos, and Self-Publishing School, he’s helped thousands of people on their journey to writing their first book.

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