How to Grow Your Business to $1 Million — and Beyond

How to Grow Your Business to $1 Million — and Beyond

There’s a TON of information on the web about starting a business.

That’s the easiest part.

What about AFTER you get started?

Growing a business is the real challenge of entrepreneurship.

There are so many things that can go wrong, missteps you can take, and problems you can run into trying to grow a business:

Thousands of companies are started every single day. But just 0.4% of companies grow $10 million in revenue — and only 2,500 businesses have revenues of $500+ million.

What makes a business grow so successfully?

Today, I want to share how to grow your company to $1 million (and beyond).

Check out the 3 biggest ways I grew AppSumo + Sumo to $1+ million — and how you can grow your business, too.

1. Tracking the right metrics

Without goals, you’re flying by the seat of your pants and hoping everything falls into place.

Most people have heard about setting goals. But what you don’t see discussed is how to TRACK goals correctly.

At Sumo, our company dashboard used to be confusing AF. It was like a three-headed dog.

We were all over the place and tracking too many things. So we simplified it.

During my time with Facebook (before I got canned), Mark Zuckerberg taught me the the importance of selecting ONE clear goal at a time.

Inspired by Zuck, I taught the team to focus on only one goal per year. Here are our goals for the past three years:

  • 2014 - 1 billion visitors across Sumo
  • 2015 - $1 million ARR (annual recurring revenue)
  • 2016 - $5 million ARR

To break our ARR down into more easily understood numbers, our team dashboard focuses on just one number: Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR).

I could ask anyone on the Sumo team — whether they work in marketing, support, or customer success — and they could correctly tell me the goal.

Here’s a simple test for you: Next time you talk to a member of your team, ask if they know your company’s #1 goal. If they can’t tell you instantly, it’s not clear enough.

Here’s how it should work:

  1. Goal: Your high-level vision, e.g. $10 million MRR
  2. Company: Make your goal clear across the whole company and show how the goal benefit the company
  3. Teams: Ensure every team knows EXACTLY how they impact the goal
  4. Individuals: What can every team member do daily to move towards the goal? Everyone in the team should know their tasks

At every step you need CLARITY.

Every single action taken by every team member should be focused on moving the needle towards your #1 goal.

BONUS: 6 steps to create an epic marketing plan for massive growth

Our team at OkDork — The Dork Squad — emphasizes focus too.

Our #1 goal is to grow the podcast to 100,000 downloads per episode. Everything we do is centered around ONE big question: "How does this help us get 100k downloads?"

To help keep track of our experiments and stay focused, we use a proactive dashboard.

Every team member has weekly responsibilities centered around the podcast. Using the proactive dashboard, we can measure if we're on track.

2. Only schedule IMPORTANT Meetings

When I worked at Intel, I’d spend literally 80% of my time in meetings.

I HATED it.

Most meetings are total 💩. There’s a whole lot of talking about the same thing 72,232 times… and then 1-2 minutes of actual discussion.

At Sumo, I encourage the team to ONLY have important meetings. That means:

  • Weekly all hands meetings with everyone on the Sumo team
  • Monthly board meetings — with Andrew Chen and others
  • Meetings we absolutely only need to have

To avoid wasting time, every meeting should have a clear agenda. Agendas help streamline your conversation.

With our monthly board meetings we use the following agenda:

  1. Open meetings with a personal check-in:
    • “What band were you a fan of as a kid... and you're embarrassed about now?”
    • “What’s one thing you never used to like but enjoy now?”
    • “What was the first concert you ever attended?”
  2. How are we doing vs. our target goal?
  3. What did we say we were going to do since last check-in and how did it go?
  4. What are we doing next?
  5. Does anyone need help to complete their action items?

Your meetings should evolve alongside your company.

For example, our all-hands meeting looks completely different today than it did a year ago. And we'll continue to refine it based on team feedback, results, and growth.

3. Hire a dream team (and keep them happy)

Your team is the most important part of your business.

EVERYONE knows this... but we still act like lovestruck teenagers and date the first person who gives us any attention.

This IS NOT the way to grow an All-Star team.

If you want the best, get off your ass and go get your sidekicks. Don’t just settle for the first person who lays eyes on you.

My best advice to find who you want to hire is start with a dream list.

Write down the 10 best people you could possibly hire right now and make those people your priority.

Struggling to think of 10 awesome people? Ask your most impressive friends, colleagues, or partners who they’d recommended.

Once you have your target list of 10 potential hires, connect with 2-3 per week (block time in your calendar to do this).

You can...

  1. Record a unique video (using a tool like Loom) telling them about your company
  2. Send them tacos through Seamless 🌮
  3. Email them to meet up for a 20-minute coffee

Or, something crazy like what Charlie did to get my attention.

If you're sending an email to meet for coffee, here's an exact email script you can use:

Subject line: We should be friends 🙂

Hi Tom,

Big fan of your work. Been following you since the days of acme.com.

My favorite thing you've done is your blog post on Google Analytics attribution. Epic lessons (using time decay thanks to your tips).

I'm looking for someone to help me with marketing and it seems like we could be a good fit for each other.

Interested?

Let me know and I'll send over more details.

Noah

Once you start hiring all-star people, it's your responsibility to KEEP the team together.

Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of putting all this effort into hiring someone... and then doing a terrible job of treating team members like the all-stars they are.

Big problem.

Great people will always get attention and offers to move to new companies. High turnover = wasted time.

Keeping A+ players happy doesn’t always come down to only money either: Most people want to be recognized and appreciated, and they want to upgrade their skills.

Sometimes, a thoughtful gift, or an opportunity to learn and progress can help as much as a pay increase.

Treat people epicly and your business will reap the rewards. (Click to Tweet in a new tab.)

If you’re looking to grow your current business to $1 million and more, listen to the 12-minute podcast below.

And remember, if you want to grow a business...

  • You’ll ALWAYS need a clear, definitive goal that everyone on your team can measure
  • You’ll ALWAYS need to be productive with your time — aka cut fluff meetings from your schedule
  • You’ll ALWAYS need an All-Star supporting cast around you

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10 responses to “How to Grow Your Business to $1 Million — and Beyond”

Meg
November 7, 2017 at 8:17 am

Yeah! This is fuc*\ing awesome and I love me some tacos so it’s a double win. Is there a download of your better goal tracking excel template or did I miss it? Thanks again for your content - super relevant!

Reply
John
July 24, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Love your podcast. Wish you would include videos.

I feel I connect better that way. Transcripts would be cool too!

Reply
Noah Kagan
July 24, 2017 at 4:15 pm

Pay me $50 and we'll get them made... and then no one including you will read them 🙂

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Ben Marianovits
July 28, 2017 at 10:33 pm

I'll read them!!!!!....Psych! ???

I loved your series with Ryan Holiday! The man is 2 legit 2 quit! Love his stuff.

Also super stoked to see you connected with Aubrey Marcus! Pro-moves, Noah!

Again, you're appearance on Tim Tim's podcast was pretty tight! I definitely appreciate your willingness to put out content that shows your mentality and train of thought. I personally always appreciate hearing the internal dialogue from a thought leader.

Hopefully, not too much but simply the RIGHT amount of smoke ???

Have a great ?
Ben

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Jenifer
July 22, 2017 at 8:43 pm

Great actionable tips! Especially enjoyed the book recommendations!

Reply
Neima
July 20, 2017 at 6:41 am

I really like #1 - having 1 clear goal per year. I've heard/read lots of advice about having a clear strategy, not allowing yourself to be sidetracked by opportunities that are outside of the current scope, etc. But this is a different take, really cutting down to the essence. Thanks!

Reply
Mark Kendrick of Bespoke Driver Training
July 19, 2017 at 6:22 pm

Insightful, short and sweet podcast, Noah. I suspect my business hasn't yet realised its full potential because I haven't been tracking and acting on key metrics, including the "proactive" ones. I am now!

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Lori Ferguson
July 19, 2017 at 9:28 am

Great podcast - quick and simple! I've been sharing with our son who's growing his biz and is searching for the "next step" info. He's deep into the motivating employees stuff and finding the right hires. (Much less fun for him than growing the business.)

PS - I've been saying to everyone, "Be nice to your children, 'cause someday you may work for them!" 😉

PPS - favorite vacation spot? Bruce Penninsula in Ontario, Canada-- we've been traveling with our RV full time for awhile and though we love TX and many other spots in North America, the summer by northern Canada's Georgian Bay is still my favorite.

Reply
Ernie Delgado
July 19, 2017 at 12:46 am

Sweet advice. Keep it coming. Language and all!

Reply
Not_A_Prude_Just_Don't_Like_It
July 18, 2017 at 10:25 am

Noah, loved your thoughts and video!

Call me old school, though, . . . why does everyone feel they must use swear words all the time??? Just wishing the language was G-rated 😉

Reply