Your 3-Year Game Plan. Your Tree of Growth.
Last Update: Sep 26, 2023
Stepping into the world of digital entrepreneurship is akin to imbibing an invigorating blend—intense, exhilarating, and, at times, downright unforgiving. Yet the rewards of succeeding are unparalleled.
And the first essential step on this journey? Understanding market needs.
Everything you are building—the brainchild of countless hours of creativity and tenacity—should be aimed at satisfying an existing demand.
When you get rolling online, you are constantly going to seek feedback, reassess strategy, reiterate, and—if need be—pivot. This process is not only about creating a product; it's about designing an experience that gets people hooked on what you are doing.
This centers around THE experience. The experience you are creating on your website for end users, the relationships that you creating with your audience, and establishing your intial customer base.
Your brand in other words, is taking full shape within the 1st year of your business.
This is not the "leap to massive growth" year, this is the building blocks that ALLOW you to achieve massive success down the road. But it is critical that you put in the effort, and don't stop within this first year.
Trials and error make for reluctant companions in any new venture, but especially so in the digital sphere. But here's the thing—they're not just stumbling blocks but stepping stones too that lead you towards success. Embrace them. Learn from them. And then get back into the game with renewed vigor. They are REQUIRED in order to achieve success.
The first year you can be moving your business towards a "full time" state, but that isn't necessarily the focus. The focus is having your foundational knowledge, and the foundation of your brand in place. That is what puts you in position to succeed.
With your first year checked off, brace yourself for the upcoming leap—from refining and surviving, you're about to shift gears into scaling and thriving. Make no mistake though, challenges will persist, but the fruits at the end?
Worth every bump (or punch lol) on the journey. I promise you.
The Growth Spurt: Years 1-3.
Tuning into the rhythm of success—it indeed has its own rhythm—heralds the onset of a distinct stage in your digital journey: the growth spurt. It flashes onto the scene much akin to a bolt of lightning—bright and intense. And within its dazzling display lie essential tasks that require laser-like focus.
The first of these tasks is ensuring that you've hit the not-so-elusive-if-you-know-where-to-look nail on the head: Product-Market Fit (PMF). Is your product completing a jigsaw loop in the market, fitting snugly within consumer needs and wants to form a complete, complementary picture? If it is, SLOW CLAP—you've stridden into monumental success.
But don’t stop just yet.
Now, your focus must SHIFT towards scaling. Establishing presence and reaping the rewards is one thing, but can your business survive the test of exponential growth? This will form your online evolution. Your ability to take things that you are already doing, and being able to work at scale.
And hand-in-hand with scaling is the optimization of operations. As you grow, there becomes inefficiencies (we know first hand), and you have to be ruthless in optimizing—SLIMMING, REFINING, POLISHING—to ensure a steady climb in your business.
Coming with this, is likely building out a team of competent and passionate helpers. This could be freelancers, personal assistants or full-time employees. Your team is your strength, your spine, the roar to your engine.
Remember that your growth stage is a journey of highs and lows, SWEET SPOTS and SOUR NOTATIONS. Some days you will want to throw in the towel, others you will feel like you are on a huge roll. That is business, in a nutshell and even being 21 years in, that is still the case to this day.
Brace yourself for the ride...and TRUST THE PROCESS.
The Maturity Phase: Year 3 and Beyond.
So you've maneuvered the maze of early-stage growth. You've built competent teams, optimized operations, and scaled your business. Now, it's time to step foot into the maturity phase.
By now, your audience and authority has grown significantly—not just a face in the crowd anymore, but a contender in your niche and the digital world. This IS NOT the stage to kick back and celebrate—there are always going to be battles to fight.
One prominent challenge is maintaining year-on-year growth. Remember, a smaller business may double in size, but it's harder for an already large business to do the same. Suddenly, percentage increases matter—a lot.
You can't just set any goal; you have to be SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Staying competitive while adapting to volume is the name of this tricky game.
And then there is diversification.
Diversification may seem risky, but it can serve as insurance in your business. Finding ways to explore new markets or tweaking your current approach can give you that ever-elusive edge...creating fresh revenue streams and reducing dependence on your few core initial ideas.
The maturity phase is a double-edged sword. It comes with its share of challenges, but conquer them, you will truly be a force within your niche/industry...and you have will have the skill set to replicate your success across many different business models.
The uphill struggle is worth it, the view from the perch of the mountain is a thing of beauty...but after a quick glance, you have to move forward as there are more mountains to climb. They never end, and that is part of the fun of it.
My Personal Missteps, to Success.
And there you have it---the road to digital success, traced through three distinct yet interconnected stages: the tender InitialStage, the transformational Growth Stage, the stabilizing Maturity Stage.
But to give you some perspective, I turn to a real-world success story---mine.
In the online world, businesses are born in clusters, disappearing in droves before their 1st birthday. Yet, there I was---incubating my business, learning by tripping, fumbling to eventually set a very strong foothold. The first year was indeed frantic... fraught with bout after bout of frustration and failure. But when you look beyond all of this "drama"it's the testing ground for tenacity and creativity.
The transition from year one to the next two...
It was a fusion of steady growth in revenue, rise in traffic and buyers, the delicate interplay of sensibly scaling based on doing more of what I already knew was working. This is what I call "getting the formula for success down". I was no longer merely surviving, I was beginning to soar.
Beyond year three? It brought the calm, and the confidence. Growth continued, now with the additional dash of diversification dynamism and a fortified market stronghold.
This is also when I connected with Carson, and we started Wealthy Affiliate (back in 2005). I was still learning lots, but I had confidence knowing that if everything was somehow taken away (which is always a fear), I could rebuild and probably rebuild better.
And now fast forward 21 years later.
I know more than ever, but still feel like there days where I know very little (comapred to what there is to know). That is OK, and that is what makes this business so exciting. There is always going to be opportunity to evolve, grow, and get better.
No journey succumbs to stagnation, so don't let yours. It evolves, it learns, it grows with every misstep, every triumph. Each stage of the journey has its unique charm and challenge. Embrace it. Fail, fall, and learn. Newfound and greater success is always around the corner.
And remember, every journey is different. Yours will be different from mine, yours will operate on your own timeline, but at the end of the day being conscious of the journey itself is going to lead you to future growth and success.
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