My Journey To A 7-Figure Year
Want to join a free community of marketing and creative agency owners that want to grow and scale? We do free training every week. http://altagency.com/group
Well, we did it. We crossed the 7-figure mark in a year.
Apparently, only 3-4% of small businesses ever do that so we're pretty pumped to finally get there ourselves but...I'll be real with you...it's been a journey.
So, I put together today's video breaking down how the journey looked.
I don't do this to brag in any way and honestly, I can see much clearer and bigger now.
But we came a long way.
We aren't one of those Facebook ads you see promising to get 7-figures in 8 months or any of that...cuz, honestly...it was hard.
And I break down our revenue from 2017 to now.
You'll see some ups...and sometimes we went backward.
Which I think is more likely the real story for the majority.
But, the reason I'm sharing this is because looking back we've done some things right and some things wrong.
Check out the video so you can avoid the mistakes and learn my 4 key takeaways.
Transcript / MP3
In this video, I want to share some key lessons and takeaways from our seven figure year. So this year we were able to generate seven figures in revenue and cash collected in our business. And I want to share some things that you can apply to your business if you are trying to hit that goal yourself. So let's dive right in. ...
So let's dive right in.
What's going on guys. Welcome back, Greg Hickman here with all firstname.lastname@example.org. And like I said, in this video, I want to share some lessons from us hitting seven figures, revenue and cash collected this year in our business. It's been a dramatic up and down journey for us over the last few years. Maybe it's been the same way for you. And I don't know, this is kind of a weird video to record, honestly, because I don't really like the people that like brag about how much money they make. And this is not a video to brag, but I feel like my story, my journey to getting to seven figures is probably a lot more like the reality of what a lot of people experience as a small business owner. Unlike some of these stories where it's like, Hey, we got to seven figures in 11 months.
I do think those things are possible. I do think it is maybe more likely now than ever. And the lessons that you can take from my mistakes and how long it took me to get. There could be applied to you to extremely shortened the time it takes you to get there. And that's really why I'm recording this video one, because I think it's easy to beat yourself up rather, when you see how fast other people are doing it, or things like that, and maybe seven figures in your goal, but whatever your goal is, I think this story will help share a little bit of things that you might be able to relate to and then apply to your business, to accelerate, to hit the goals that you have. So that's the place I'm coming from here. So I hope you find this useful. And if you do, and you are not yet a subscriber, please go ahead and click that subscribe button because we release a new video each and every week on Thursdays.
Now, before I jump in, we also have a free Facebook group. If you go to all agency.com forward slash group, you can answer a couple of questions and hop in. It's a free group. I do live training each and every week, and I share other content and great community of agency owners that are looking to grow and scale without working nights and weekends and not just getting paid for their labor, but getting paid for their thinking. So visit all agency.com for slash group. And, uh, hopefully we'll see you in the community there. So let's dive in quick backstory, cause I'm not going to take you all the way back. But in 2012, I launched a blog and I was doing stuff on the side. I had a full-time job. I broke out on my own in 2014, horrible year. Didn't figuring it all out, lived off some savings.
2015 is when I actually launched my agency in September of 2015. And it was some up and down. Um, we finished 2016 sort of strong, but I'm going to pick up from 2017 cause that's where things really started getting interesting. So here is what we got. If we look at the timetable, uh, we'll look at 17, 18, 19, and then it will say this is 20. So 17, 18, 1920. That's what we got. And if I can move this over for you, that will be good. I'm just going to draw my face a little bit. So, uh, in 2017 we did 400 and, and 34,000.
And then in 18 we grew and we did 523,000. Then in 19 we dropped, Ooh, that'll be a good story. We dropped to four 29,429 K. And then this year, uh, I'm recording this right before Christmas. We will finish which this year I'm at about a 1.2, probably closer to 1.3 million. Okay. Um, that's collected as well. So let me bring that down here so you can see, um, again, I somehow found a way to get off the screen. So I'm going to bring that over here so you guys can see, so that's really where we're at. So you've all seen the little, the little, uh, memes of like, this is what real entrepreneurship is like, and that's, you know, what it was like for us too. So this is the journey that we were on from 2017 to 2020. Now a couple of things here, uh, first in 2017, I'm going to look at 2017 first in 2017 in February in our agency, we were doing, um, about 35, uh, 40 K a month recurring.
And we had been doing some one-off projects that range anywhere from five to 15 K. So we'd have months where we'd spike up to like 55, 60 K in revenue. Uh, but we'd also, uh, kind of stay consistent around, uh, that like 20 to 35 K um, give or take the month. So it was definitely up and down, but it was a recurring. Some of the revenue is recurring, but we weren't really profitable and we didn't really enjoy our life. I've done other episodes about this, but the key I'm mentioning here is that in February of 2017, we launched our first high ticket coaching consulting program. And, um, in that year, by the end of the year, so February, 2017, we launched the first cohort. And then we in December hit our first month of six figure sales, selling that program specifically. So you can generate up to six figures. You can do it really quickly. There were months where we weren't doing it. We moved a little bit slower because we were also managing a book of business. So it was a little bit of a balancing act, as we were trying to figure it out while still being able to pay the bills. Maybe you can relate to that. So we finished 2017 strong. We invested in some mentors that were helping us invest in some other mentorship in 2018 as well in early 2018. If we jumped back to this, uh, this chart,
Now we're at 2018
In 2018. If you guys remember, um, Cambridge Analytica happened. So we were off to a good start. Um, and Cambridge Analytica kind of changed the way that Facebook was working. So it was a combination between Cambridge Analytica and we decided that we had, at that time, a front end program, which was called foundations and a back end program that at the time was called leverage. So it was a 90 day and a 12 month. We decided to merge the two and start selling them. And a whole plethora of things went wrong. We obviously grew in revenue because of our focus, but we weren't able to dramatically grow because of that now. So you saw us go from 434 into finishing 2018, about five 23. Then there's the plummet in four 29 to four 29 in 2019. So in this area right here, like kind of in between 18 and making our way to 19, we went really upside down on our ad spend and we needed to stop spending money on ads and pay off some debt that we got ourselves into, but stupid mistakes, stupid mistakes and things that could have been course corrected for sure.
But, you know, we all make mistakes. We all get in our own way and that happened. So for basically all of 2019, we were just kind of grinding and hustling, trying to make enough money to pay off debt and not really spend any money on ads. We started spending some money on ads. Again, the late end of 2019, maybe December. I don't even think we did much in November. So we just started spending, trying to pick ourselves back up, um, get some momentum, build our audience faster by using paid media, Facebook ads. And the key differentiator here is when we went into
2020, we said, look, we have
Something that's working this 90 day front-end program called foundations is our bread and butter. Let's double down, let's rebuild that thing from scratch. Let's market the heck out of it and go all in on just that, which we essentially had been focused on that, but we, you know, shiny objects here and there and new strategies, new tactics trying to do too much. We kind of tripped over ourselves a few times. And so this year we rebuilt the program from the ground up. We actually rebranded to all agency because we were formerly another name.
And we built all of The refined and tweaked small iterations of the program and the systems to market sell and deliver it to the point where we went from three people. So we started 2020 with a team of three. And we're now at nine, you can't see that Drawing into the air, a team of nine. And that is about To grow to 10 and 11 here really, really soon. So we learned a lot from this and that's really what I want to take away. Now, a couple of key things that are important for context is our agency was building sales funnels and doing marketing automation for online course creators. And during this transition, we started working with service providers and agency owners because that's what I am. That's the story in my journey from eight behind, you know, a bunch of big names working at a big brand agencies, serving big brands like Pepsi and Unilever, and then going client side, a company called Kybella, which is a large retailer building out a team there. So I came from the agency world and I knew that I didn't want to build the traditional agency. And I knew that I had learned a lot and we got wanting to get paid for our thinking.
And that's really what all agency has become a training and consulting business, helping other agencies, unpackage their, unpack, their experience, their knowledge and their skills to get paid for their thinking, not just their labor and have multiple revenue streams. So you have your core service, you have training workshops and you could have other kinds of DIY things long-term if you need it. And so now we help agencies and service providers, freelancers launch this new revenue stream. And in Academy, our backend program helped them replace their service revenue with that. This is not a pitch for the programs. I'm just trying to give you the context because this year we went all in on like let's master getting people in and through foundations. And we worked with about 124 people through foundations at the time of 126 at the time of recording this. And then we have our backend program where we've had people in a year long program.
So between those two offers alone, we were, uh, were able to finish this year with collecting over a million dollars in cash collected. So a little bit over that in revenue generated and with a team of nine people. So a few things here that I want to share with you that I think are really important that you can apply to your business. So if you're an agency owner and you are tired of being the labor and all of that stuff, a couple of things that I think really made the difference for us to make this pivot from labor, into getting paid for thinking. And then also, you know, we went, like I said, we went from 429,000 in 2019 to 1.3 million. That's more than doubling the business in 12 months. And honestly it has a lot to do with focus. So focus if we capitalized and tried to capitalize on all the opportunities that came our way, we would have been distracted, we would have not hit the goal and our commitment to only selling our two programs.
Everything was driven towards getting people to get into foundations and then help those people upgrade into Academy. That's all we did. If anything was presented to us, that was not that we said, no, we probably left money on the table. For sure. That would have been cool or introduce us to potentially some opportunities. But we knew because of the past experience that it had those ups and downs, that that's what we did before. So we said, no, we're going to go all in on focusing on just these things and mastering that so that we can remove people from the right places. So this year, you know, I was originally the person selling the program. So having all the sales calls, when that happened to the point where I was on 20 calls a week, that was tiresome along with having to do everything else in the business.
So we built a sales team. Now we have two closers, a kind of a setter, if you will, a sales coordinator and a sales admin. And these people have helped take that off my plate so that when I'm on vacation or when I'm in meetings or when I'm with our clients, which is where I love spending my time that we can still be making money. So focus, the next thing is building a team and getting help. So look, um, I know it kind of is over those words there, but a team and getting help, the faster you can remove yourself from the time consuming things in your business, the faster you can be able to grow, and you need to understand what your time is worth, and then what areas to delegate first. And sometimes what I learned is that the things that I would love to offload are the things that I actually need to be doing a little bit longer and earn the right to offload them so that it'd be easier to bring on a more, uh, talented person that can take it off my plate time and time again, I see agency owners bring on experts or consultants or salespeople, kind of hoping that they're going to take everything over and do all of the hard work when you really haven't set them up for success and that's on you.
And I did the same thing. And so I built out all the systems so that I could start plugging salespeople in. I found a recruitment service and we brought in a sales team and I was able to coach and train them to replace me as a salesperson on the fulfillment side, I was able to get help and build out our coaching team. So Greg, wasn't the only one coaching. So as a systematic approach, and these are the things that we teach in our programs and foundations and Academy, so that you can not be the bottleneck in your business. And not only does your, what will your business grow and thrive when you're on vacation or things like that. You're just not going to be the bottleneck. And I'm telling you it will take work and it will take time. This is not a simple thing.
You can obviously see that in our journey. There's definitely ways to mess this up, even with mentorship. So time and time again, when I look back at where things went wrong, it was because we took our eye off of the main goal and we tried to bend our services or our offering to what a particular client wanted when we were a little bit more desperate. And that started to spread us thin in 2020, we did not do that. We doubled down and went all in on what we knew was working, which was our foundations program. I said help, but to specifically call that out mentorship guys, if you're not working with mentors, people that have been there before you to get feedback and insight from, and also to put yourself in a community of other people that are going through a similar journey, then you're missing out on a huge shortcut right now, just because you paid for a coach or you paid for mentorship, or are you paid for a course?
Doesn't mean you're automatically going to have the results. You have to do the work. You have to ask the right questions and you have to stay focused. That's one of the challenges that I experienced early on when I brought on, when I hired coaches and went through programs, myself is you see a lot of cool things happening and you try to implement it all at once because you don't have the discipline to focus on only the pieces that you need. And if you focus on only the pieces that you need, yes, you might say to yourself, man, I didn't use everything that that program offered, but you use the right things that allowed you to get to hit the result, which leads me to the last, uh, kind of key takeaway, which is consistency. One of the main things that I learned this year is that it's less about a shiny tactic or one big win.
And it's more about doing the little things a little bit better consistently. So it's not necessarily about like email doesn't work. Well, why don't you get better at email marketing? It's not about Facebook ads. Don't work. Get a little bit better at Facebook ads, webinars, don't work. Just get a little bit better at webinars and make your webinar work. All of the tactics actually can work for you. It's likely that you didn't execute it properly or long enough or well enough in order to receive that result. Hopefully these kinds of key takeaways find you well, big learning lessons for us, more content on this journey and the lessons we've learned coming in next week's video. I'm actually going to share the 10 lessons from the entire year that I shared with our team in our annual planning meeting as just kind of a little, Hey, here's what I shared with our team.
I want to share it with you. Hopefully you can extract some of these lessons, rewire your brain for that focus, the willingness to ask for help and get help where you need it, willingness and confidence that you can invest in a coach and a mentor and get results faster. And also to stay focused on, you know, the little things, the consistent little tiny tactics strategies we call it. The un-sexy work. You got to do the unsexy work in your business sometimes to get to the point where you've earned the right to offload it to somebody else, guys, again, for us up and down journey, hopefully this resonates with you again, this was in no way meant to brag. I think we're far off from where I want to be. My eyes have been opened to the potential now that we've gotten here and I'm super stoked for 2021. If you want some clarity, you've been stuck at that 25 35 K a month, Mark, and you want to break through, you want to escape from selling just your time and labor, then join us in our free Facebook group. Again, there's a link in the comment section below all agency.com forward slash group. And we do live trainings like this all the time. So hope to see you in there and help you Uplevel your thinking, Uplevel, your systems and your business model agency model to hit the goals that you have for 2020. Take It easy. Peace