How to Grow Your Small Business to $1 Million in Revenue

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When you started your business, did you dream of one day making $1 million in revenue? While 95% of all small businesses in the U.S. will never reach this artificial symbol for success, in order to get there, you and your business will need to change. Your business will evolve over time as you get closer to that number. I interviewed several business owners who have made $1 million or more in revenue, if you want to do it too, I’ve got incredible insights into how to get your small business to one million in revenue. Here are the top tips.

Build The Brand

Lisa Chu, owner of Black N Bianco clothing retailer, said she put in many years of hard work trying to build credibility for her brand. She provided excellent products and customer service, which eventually created more brand awareness purely through word of mouth. “Being a small business that had a personal connection with my target audience was the catalyst to my success.”

Focus on Lead Generation

Rahul Alim, President of Custom Creatives, a digital marketing agency, said his team spent a lot of time focusing lead generation and attracting new customers. They also developed solutions to grow their clients’ businesses. They also expanded their offerings to encourage clients to spend more with them.

Make Sure Your Business Can Run Without You

Blair Critch, Le-Vel Brand Promoter, has more practical tips to grow your business. She said that in addition to making sure you love your business enough to work hard over time, you should also make yourself replicable. This doesn't mean you will be replaced; it just means that you've trained your people to ‘think as you do’ so they can function independently, leaving you more time to find creative ways to grow the business.”

Change Your Perception of Money vs. Time

Most small business owners go out of their way to save a buck, and that’s understandable when budgets are tight. But as you grow, Marcio Souza, CEO and Co-Founder of Clutch Prep, said that how much energy you put into saving money will change. “One way in which we have had to adapt continuously, as we grow, has been with regards to calibrating how we value cash vs. time: whereas in the early days it made sense to spend days to save a few hundred dollars, now that we have more revenue, it's often wise to ‘pay’ more to save staff time to move faster.”

Expand Your Team Early

Changes in how you operate your business don’t just start at the $1 million threshold. Jeff O’Hara, President of AlliedPRA New Orleans, said that it’s easy to find yourself stuck at a certain revenue level unless you invest outside of your comfort zone. “Bring on new sales people and team leadership before the revenues justify the expense, that’s what we did. In other cases, in means investing in new products or inventory, or upgrading technology. It’s scary, and it happens before you get to $1M, happens again before you get to $3M, and on and on as the business grows.”

Focus on Profit

It wouldn’t be the SmallBizLady, if I didn’t add my own advice on getting to one million in revenue. Dig deeper into your niche. Figure out how to become the #1 resource for what you sell. Stay focused on increasing the profitability of your company. It’s not just about your revenues, you also need to build processes and systems that will allow you to sell your business one day, if you want too.

Is Hitting $1 Million Even a Big Deal?

Yes, for some. It does signify that a business has a sustainable business model, but it can be a false sense of success. Back in 2007 when I was writing my first book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, I almost didn't finish writing the book because I didn’t think I was successful “enough”. Make sure you define for yourself what success looks like for you and your business. At the end of the day, it’s not what your make, it’s about how much you keep.

If you’re on the road to grossing $1 million in revenue, that’s awesome. And when you get there, pat yourself on the back, you should be proud of yourself and your company. Just don’t discount all your other progress along the way.