As an entrepreneur, there’s no feeling quite like realizing that after years of hard work, your business can stand on its own two feet. All the brainstorming, market research, and late nights came together just as you hoped, and you’re finally making money doing what you love.
But as you come down from that rush, it can be hard to know what to do next. You are probably asking yourself, “What’s next?” If so, you’re entering a new phase in your entrepreneurial journey, and it’s not as sexy or fast-paced as the others. It’s called the growth phase, and it’s something you’ll have to continually work toward for the life of your company.
The growth phase of business isn’t just about growing your business; it’s also about growing your passion so your business will stay meaningful and fulfilling instead of becoming just another paycheck.
Here’s how to approach growth in a way that’s brand-focused, sustainable, and rewarding.
Grow Your Tribe
To build influence, you have to grow your audience — or your tribe. Your tribe is a valuable asset to your business because these people won’t stop at buying your product; they’ll also act as brand advocates by sharing, “liking,” and retweeting your content on social media, joining your email list, and spreading the word to their friends and family.
To grow your tribe, you have to understand what I like to call your customer avatar. This means creating a complete picture of what makes your customers tick. Where do they live? What do they drive?
What are their interests? When you understand every little detail about your customers, you can present your message in places they’re already looking to build brand awareness. There are three ways to accomplish this:
Hosting a podcast is a great way to connect with your ideal customers because there are hundreds of millions of people on iTunes who have yet to hear your message. If you launch your podcast successfully, you have a chance of getting featured in the “New & Noteworthy” section, which creates terrific visibility. By providing your audience with free, valuable content, it encourages them to follow you and become more engaged.
Another great marketing tactic for building your tribe is Facebook advertising. Facebook allows you to target your ideal customers on a limited budget, and suddenly your audience feels as though they see you everywhere. This creates the perception that you’re an expert and you’re good at what you do.
Once you’ve captured the interest of your target audience, focus on growing your email list. It’s one of the most effective and affordable ways to follow up with people, nurture leads, and monetize that valuable content you’ve been sharing through your podcast and other channels.
Integrate Your Passions
Your business is obviously a passion, but it’s also a great jumping-off point to align other interests. There are endless opportunities to do this, and social good is just one.
After a trip to Guatemala, I realized I had a passion for giving children access to quality education. I then integrated this passion into my overall brand story by launching a fundraiser called the “Life On Fire Virtual Summit.” It features 27 influential entrepreneurs from around the world, and all proceeds go to Pencils of Promise to help build schools.
Nick Unsworth, Founder and CEO of Life On Fire; Source: Courtesy Photo
If you want to connect your business with a charity, make sure it resonates with your core values. If your interest isn’t authentic, it’s going to be obvious. And don’t be afraid to get creative with your cause! For example, in 2013 I rented out a bar in San Diego and held a fundraiser for local foster children. I charged a $50 cover and raised more than $7,000 to buy Kindles for the children. When you let yourself have a little fun, you can expand your network, do some good, and enjoy yourself along the way.
Let Purpose Guide You
While many entrepreneurs start off with the goal to make a lot of money, money will never create true happiness and fulfillment in your life. Once you buy the house and the nice car, you’ll quickly realize you need something more to stay passionate as your business grows.
It’s important to remember why you started your business in the first place. When things get overwhelming think back to your original vision and use it as your North Star. Think about how you want to be remembered. Do you want to be remembered as someone who just made a lot of money or as someone who made a real difference in the world?
The growth phase can be intimidating for any entrepreneur, but if you commit to your customers, integrate your passions into your business, and allow your original vision to guide your journey, the money will follow. If you truly believe in your company’s purpose and potential, you’ll be rewarded with profits and true satisfaction.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Nick Unsworth is the Founder and CEO of Life On Fire, a business coaching company that helps entrepreneurs and business leaders become the rock stars they are meant to be. Nick has been an entrepreneur for 11 years and was inspired to live his best life after watching those close to him struggle for money throughout his childhood. Nick has worked in several industries and bounced back from many setbacks, which inspired him to help other entrepreneurs make every day a journey worth living. Connect with @NickUnsworth on Twitter.
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