The Tightrope

You might not realize it, but in online business — you’re walking on a tightrope.

Once you see it… the next revelation comes quickly, “Oh wait. I’ve been on this tiny piece of string this whole time.”

The tightrope I speak of, is your reputation + credibility as it relates to the money you make. And as I’ve pondered this tightrope, I’ve been able to look back and see that yes… it’s been the way this whole time.

$0-$100,000 – The balance of credibility

When you’re first growing a business, this range of income is all about building credibility. For many people in this phase of rope walking, the feeling of “What if no one hires me because I’m not as experienced as ________” plays over in your mind again and again.

Imposter syndrome rears its ugly head.

You’re trying to get testimonials and credentials that prove you’re worthy to be in and on the online business landscape.

Once you hit six figures in revenue, a new challenge emerges.

$100,000 – $1,000,000 – The balance of profitability

Here at this stage, you’re able to revel in your credibility as a six figure business owner, but God help you if they discover your profit margin is only 10%. All that credibility might vanish in an instant. The balance here is growing, leveraging your expertise, and holding onto your profit margin for dear life so you don’t become one of those 2 comma club winners who made a million but only kept a $1.00.

I’ve seen marketers get beaten to a pulp in this arena. Keyboard warriors taking to the streets to remind folks that many of these new 7 figure businesses have nearly zero profit.

If your profit margin is actually healthy, you might forget you’re on a tightrope. This is because you have the credentials of expertise through your financial arrival, and you have the profit margin to show it.

As you cross the million dollar mark, you might feel like you’ve made it. But that feeling only lasts a moment.

$1,000,000 – $2,000,000 – The balance of scalability

Arriving at $1M in sales means to some extent, you’ve made it. But scaling isn’t easy. It involves this messy thing called people. More people on your team. More customers. More opinions and potential to be disliked.

And yet, for most at this stage, they can manage it okay. It’s a big job to double a 7 figure business, and constantly juggling people, products, customers, and profit margin is tough, but in some ways – this is the sweet spot. 

As you start to leave the $2m spot, the awareness of the tightrope… returns.

$2,000,000 – $3,000,000 – The balance of likability

You may not realize it as its happening, but when you start to leave the $2m mark, you go from little tiny solopreneuring startup to a company. And companies aren’t typically well regarded in this society. There’s a lot of f*ck it to the man.

So you have a choice as a business owner. To leave the land of likability. To grow means to become more like a company… a sure sign that you’re about to go from down to Earth and likable, to corporate and cold. Mean. Detached.

The sheer volume of people you manage both internally and externally means that other people are representing you, speaking on your behalf, and you start to lose some control of your reputation. That loss of control means that people will misunderstand you.

The tightrope for the business owner this whole time…

You must make enough money to be credible. You must have healthy profit margins to show you can manage your funds, but not too healthy because then that means you’re a greedy owner who doesn’t treat their team well. If your profit margins are too low, you start to lose credibility. If you make enough money to show you’re an expert, don’t go too far in one direction or you’ll start to look too much like a corporation and get heat for that.

I’ve seen this happen to a lot of people (myself included). And in fact, I was at a mastermind with Ryan Deiss and he said that many entrepreneurs – when they hit $3M, they sabotage everything.

  • They burn out and shut things down.
  • They close down their groups and programs.
  • They archive their Facebook groups.
  • They fire their staff.

They start over, trying to recreate the more “stable likable” feeling that the rise to $1M gave them. Many online businesses build, burn out, repeat this cycle over and over again.

Think about how many experts you followed who maybe hit $3-$4m a year and then stopped everything. Vanished and returned later with a new idea or a whole new model. There are a lot. I can think of at least 5 without much trouble.

Fewer stay the course because either they don’t realize what’s happening, or they made such a big jump so fast they ended up in another category without realizing how fast they were going to end up there.

The next jump… from $3M to $10M is the journey I’m on right now. I’ve heard it’s dark. I’ll let you know.

But it’s different for me, since it’s two companies  cumulating that amount. Not one. One company – Digital Insiders – is in the sweet spot. One company Funnel Gorgeous, has left the station and is heading fast in the dark.

And together, they put me in this position where I’ve felt the balance of likability, scalability, profitability all at once.

I share this because whatever category you’re in right now, the truth is we’re all on this balancing act together. The feelings are the same –

  • Am I enough? Yes, you are.
  • Will I be accepted? No, probably not.
  • Will I be liked? No, not always.
  • Will this work? Maybe yes, maybe not. But you can always try again.
  • Will I be able to sustain it? Maybe yes, maybe not. But you can always try again.
  • What if I lose it? Then it wasn’t meant to be + you can build it again.
  • What if it doesn’t go as I planned? It won’t. But now that you know it won’t go according to plan, you can plan for that.