The six- or seven-figure launch’ is the white whale of online entrepreneurship. Big money launches mean you’re successful. They mean all the hard work you’ve put in and all the mistakes you’ve made have finally become worthwhile because people are listening, watching, and buying from you. A lot.
But, just how deep does that white whale swim in the digital business world?
To give you some perspective, “six-figure” and “seven-figure” are now such popular marketing terms, Facebook has banned brands from using them in their ads, along with phrases like “million-dollar.”
Teaching people how to launch is also now an industry in itself. Entrepreneurs everywhere are plowing through ebooks, courses, and coaching sessions, all promising those rows of fat zeroes at the end of a the long launch road.
But what does it really take to create a six-figure launch?
First, it takes time. Real time. Usually, several years to build up the following to do so consistently.
Secondly: Being able to answer this question is part of why I really, really love my job.
One of the best things about being a subcontractor in the world of digital business is getting to pinch hit for a company during their busiest, most critical seasons.
Over the past five years, I’ve stepped up to bat for almost 200 brands and countless launches. While it’s been an incredible way to learn about sales, marketing, and branding, the greatest gift has been the chance to spot patterns in the highest stake moments of online entrepreneurship.
Crafting sales pages, email sequences, ads, and scripts for webinars and promotional videos puts me at the helm of a brand’s content strategy. I get to jump headfirst into the middle of an already well-oiled machine, and find ways to sell the hell out of whatever they’re offering.
While the majority of the launches I collaborate on do well, there are certain brands that rake in major paydays nearly every round (we’re talking $800k-plus). The craziest part? That huge sum is rarely a fluke. Once it happens the first time, it’ll usually keep happening, over and over.
So, how do those $800k-plus people catch the whale? What’s so different about the approach that uber-successful online business owners take to launching and selling their ideas?
Turns out, it’s less about formulas and more about philosophy.
Almost every high-level entrepreneur I’ve met has key beliefs and personality traits in common that help them build strong teams of the best in the business, master their systems, and hit or surpass their goals, every time.
1. Big players are never shy about paying their right people
With the exception of those talented experts who are severely undercharging (and if that’s you, please, please, please raise your rates), “You get what you pay for” is a painfully accurate summation of outsourcing.
Sure, you might think you’ve found a bargain on that $200 sales page, but the few hundred dollars you’re saving now may lead to unfathomable amounts of stress on your end, from missed deadlines and poorly-performing work, to the people you hire completely disappearing.
You can’t cheap out on great work done right the first time, on time. Big players understand this, and the value of having an expert help them with the work they can’t do themselves, or don’t have time to do. They’re never shy about hiring a specialist, or a designer, developer, copywriter, etc. and they rarely express sticker shock when they find the right person.
This is a two-way power move:
- It shows the people they hire that they (the client/brand) understand how valuable the subcontractor’s work is, and are willing to pay for it. That’s one of the highest levels of respect you can demonstrate in entrepreneurship, and gets things off on the right foot
- It puts the client on the fast track to a killer campaign, with an A-team of the best experts in the business behind them.
2. Their teams are rock solid, and consistent
Freelance life means working with crazy talented people across the country, and across the planet. While every professional should be able to step onto a team and be ready to rock n’ roll, there’s a beautiful rhythm you fall into when you’ve done 3, 4, or 10 launches with the same squad.Consistently working together creates an understanding between everyone from the VA to the design lead. You learn each other’s style as a group as well as habits and delivery patterns, which makes it a lot easier to get great work done in record time.
Onboarding processes are also essential to creating an unshakeable team foundation.On a few of my favorite teams, every time a fresh face arrives they receive a series of documents to review, including a one-pager about the company’s vision and mission, any relevant brand statements, and a ‘How-to’ guide, usually created by the newbie’s superior, or predecessor.These onboarding systems help any new member gain a complete understand about how and why that team does things a certain way, so they can hit the ground running.
With the exception of those talented experts who are severely undercharging (and if that’s you, please, please, please raise your rates), ‘you get what you pay for’ is a painfully accurate summation of outsourcing.
3. Their project management habits are immaculate
A sign of a good team destined for greatness? A great project manager leading the pack.
The absolute best teams I’ve worked on are always spearheaded by a project manager who’s basically a wizard. They’re capable of keeping innumerable items organized in their heads (and on their spreadsheets), and have an uncanny ability to remember every detail.
The best project managers create spacious-but-firm deadlines for every day leading up to the launch, which should be followed to a T. They use software like Asana and Trello to keep things smooth, but also make sure they follow up with their team to check that things are rolling out properly.
They also know how to adjust to the way certain members prefer to work, whether that means switching tech tools (for example, I love Trello, but Asana makes my head hurt) or feedback styles.
The final trait I’ve found in the creme de la creme of project managers? They’re remarkably available (within reason), and/or have a designated person to answer questions quickly, and leave no ball dropped. If they’re going on vacation, they have their assistant fill in, or make sure all i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed before they leave their laptop at home.
4. The leader’s eye is always on creating value (even with their free stuff)
The life of an entrepreneur and freelancer is littered with Facebook ads and emails about ‘free’ webinars, teleconferences, and summits. That’s because classes and trainings are an online business owner’s best bet of attracting new audience members, and helping old ones get excited and ready to buy what they’re offering.
Frustratingly enough, so few of these free classes and Q&A sessions deliver real, actionable value. Most of them are focused on the upsell of an actual paid product at the end of the call.
However, the most successful entrepreneurs avoid being guilty of that sin at all costs. Everything they offer their customers leading up to launch day is delivered at a high level of production, and is all about the actionable takeaway. This both demonstrates their value as an expert, and establishes real, authentic trust between themselves and their new and existing community of customers.
One particularly successful client I work with spent $50k on a course that was absolutely free to anyone who chose to sign up. Granted, it was sponsored, but think about that number for a second. That’s what dedication in action looks like.
And it was worth her while, too. She hit every goal that launch, and has kept up that pattern in recent years.
5. They’re open about the numbers
On my favorite teams, the first call of a launch cycle is always about the bigger picture. That means explaining the moving parts of the launch in detail and spelling out how much each product or offering will cost, and why it’s valuable.
The launch leader also shares how many people would have to purchase the offering to reach their ‘gotta have’ revenue goal, as well as a dream number to work towards. Discussing these totals gives the team a common goal to shoot for, as well as a reason to pay attention to numbers as they come in. Because when a team is paying attention to sign ups, bounce rates, and more, they can figure out what’s working and what’s not, and make small tweaks to step up engagement, and attract new readers and buyers into the fold.
6. They’re players as well as coaches
We’ve all heard the stories of hot-headed, stubborn CEOs who feel team members are dispensable and constantly fly off the hand at their poor overworked staff.
Personally? While I’ve spent (very) short amounts of time on teams like that, it’s the business owners who are in the trenches with their team, working through obstacles with them, and lending a hand to get it all done who get the best, most consistent results.
They don’t sweat the small stuff, they just handle it. Someone missed a deadline? OK, but they need it in the morning, and let them know if you have any questions. Tech snafu? They’re on the phone with support right now.
Their availability is unprecedented, and they don’t just rely on Slack or Trello to get in touch with their team. They’ll ask you to call them, email right back, or pick the phone right up and call you. This means the work that needs to be done gets done faster.
No egos get in the way, and no one is above anything on the team, which creates an unstoppable flow that nets unbelievable ROI.
Behind nearly every great launch is a great CEO who treats their team with respect
Great leaders don’t say ‘I did it.’ They say ‘We did it.’
Because millions of dollars in revenue and a huge online presence might attract people to your team, but if you don’t treat your contractor’s right, and give your hires every resource they need to do their best work? You’re going to flop eventually.
The best in the business don’t sit on high thrones of achievement and wave at their team from afar. They’re ready to find and stick with the right people, pay them what they’re worth, and get down and dirty with their goals, their ideas, and the whole process of their launch. And above all, they’re grateful for every minute.
So if you’re ready to launch, start by asking yourself: What kind of leader do you really want to be? For your team, your audience, and the rest of world?
Hillary Weiss is the chief copywriter, ghostwriter and mischief-maker over at hillaryweiss.com. Since 2011, she’s helped over 150 brands find their voice, and get seen and heard with content that truly speaks their language, and fits their phenomenal work. Because words that lift hearts, ignite minds, and get results can do more than just change your business—they can change the world, too.