9 paths to a $1M business (choose the best one for you)

9 paths to a $1M business (choose the best one for you)

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9 paths to a $1M business (choose the best one for you)

Cracking the formula of how to grow a business is tough. You never know which lever will move your business and make it grow. Resources are limited and it is impossible to test all strategies.

I have dived into our database to compile 9 proven strategies (with 27 real-life examples) that helped founders build multi-million dollar businesses, so you can learn from their experiences and use them too:

#1. SEO

This may seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised to know how many people completely ignore SEO. Big mistake.

This platform 5x’d revenue thanks to SEO.

The key for this business was blog post consistency, as well as targeting achievable long-tail keywords.

Key learning: Start publishing content as soon as possible. Even if your first articles aren’t the best ones, you can always edit them in the future.

More examples:

#2. Earned media

When your business has the word D*** in its name, you know it’s time to get creative because advertising is not going to be an option.

However, the same reason that disqualifies the business for placing ads, makes it interesting for media outlets. Their bold business idea landed them over 30 appearances on tier 1 websites.

This prank business used media coverage to go from $25K to $125K per month.

The media is always hungry for content. Think if there’s something about your business that can be interesting to them: your product, your backstory, achievements, working with charities, etc.

More examples:

#3. Copywriting

Classic mistake: including too much jargon that makes no sense to the customers (because they don’t know what it is).

This business grew 160% by improving its messaging.

Now instead of talking about what they do, they focus on what they achieve.

Easy win.

More examples:

#4. TV

But, isn’t super hard and/or expensive to get on TV?

Not really! This founder actually contacted tv stations himself through their news tip line. News, magazines, shows,... they’re always hungry for stories. You just need to sell it to them properly.

This cleaning service grew during the pandemic thanks to TV appearances.

Don’t make them figure out what the angle is or how could they make it attractive. If you take work off their shoulders and make their lives easier, your chances of being on air will increase.

More examples:

#5. Say ‘no’

It may seem counterintuitive, but rejecting some opportunities allowed this founder to focus on what he does best and grow the core business.

This custom sneakers business reached $720K/year by rejecting projects.

The result? A 15% revenue increase and landing customers such as Red Bull, Netflix, Target, or Dr. Pepper.

More examples:

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#6. Email campaigns

Tired of a bad ROAS, they put their efforts into designing better email campaigns.

These shakes sales increased by 57% with a new email strategy.

Their secret? Segmenting like they never did before. They even shared a screenshot of how they structured one of their campaigns. Pure gold.

You can build any business just on email. Just remember to collect email addresses as soon as possible (offer something attractive in exchange). When everything falls apart, you can always rely on email.

More examples:

#7. TikTok

Even if it may feel a little intimidating at first and give you the feeling that all the content there is teens dancing and doing silly stuff, the truth is that there are brands that have jumped onto this platform, found their voice and achieved success.

These $1.5M/year musical greeting cards are thriving on TikTok.

Their second-ever video on the app took off like crazy with over 6 million views.

Additionally, TikTok virality usually spills over into Reddit and Instagram as well. The result? They had stocked about 7-9 weeks of inventory for Christmas and it sold out within 2 weeks before December started.

More examples:

#8. Create more products

As business expert Ryan Howard once said: “It’s 10 times more expensive to get a new customer than keeping an existing one”. So, if you’ve been able to build a loyal customer base that loves your products, you already did the hard part. Why not create more awesome products for them?

Increasing the average ticket or the lifetime value of a client can result in exponential business growth.

This $2.4M/year business grew 50% by launching more products.

With a big and loyal community established around careers in finance, it only made sense to create more products that increased members’ chances of getting better jobs.

By developing a series of courses and trainings they were able to skyrocket revenue.

More examples:

#9. Offer free stuff

It may seem a little contradictory, but giving away free stuff is a great way to grow your business.

The key: Don’t give away too much, and leave people hungry for more.

This strategy works because people are often reluctant to buy stuff from companies they don’t know, and by doing this you have an opportunity to start a relationship, show that you can provide value, and build trust.

This freelancer reached $120K/year by offering free webinars.

Through his webinars, newsletters, and youtube videos he connects with more people each day. Establishing himself as the go-to guy for SEO stuff.

Staying on the customers' top of mind is very important. So when they think about your industry, the name that automatically comes to mind is yours.

More examples:

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Quick hitters

(1) This social media agency grew to $1M/year. Wait, but can they really grow so much? By now, having a social media presence is a must for every company. Even if it’s just a basic profile on a couple of social networks.

Want more examples of businesses in social media that became huge? These guys make $3M/year making social ads easy for everyone, and this social media content planner generates $2.8M/year.

(2) This founder created a $100K/year permissions management SaaS. An early win was to create a Slack community to keep potential customers engaged. Then focused on product-led growth.

SaaS makes great businesses because of its great margins and easy distribution. If you’re working on your own SaaS, read how these founders achieved success: $12M/year with a property management SaaS, $6M/year time tracking software, and $1K/month without writing a single line of code.


Thanks for reading!

Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
Want to start your own business?

Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.

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meet the author
David Bustos

Hey there! 👋 I'm David, and if you ever got an email from Starter Story, I probably wrote it. With a background in working with startups and writing, being part of this team is kind of a perfect fit for me.