Shortly after breaking 6-figures with my agency in 2017 and multiple requests from friends within the community to spill the secrets, Ian (my business coach who helped me transition from freelancer to agency) and I co-created and pre-sold 10 beta spots into our accelerator program. This launch later turned out to be one of Thinkific’s most successful launches on their platform of 30,000+ courses.
Since then, we have helped our small but mighty customer-base transform their lives in profound ways, to the tune of more than $10M+ in revenue generated and many months of extra vacation days from their side-hustles and businesses, many of which they started from scratch.
As the founder of this company which started as a daydream, this experience has been as rewarding as it has been enlightening and it’s important that I share some of the most important lessons we learned as they have dictated the vision, mission and future of Different Hunger.
Lesson 1. Revenue is (for the most part) a vanity metric
While revenue is valuable for showing offer and/or market validation, it typically is used as a way to boost status and credibility, as I did above when I dropped that sweet $10M+ number!
On the surface level it seems to work, but beneath that, it is rather meaningless when it comes to determining the quality of both your business and your life. Let’s say you did $250K last year in revenue but had to spend $100K on advertising, another $100k on payroll and $50K on additional expenses and taxes. So if you grossed $250K and expensed $250K, clearly you aren’t profitable and the business isn’t healthy, hence why revenue is meaningless except to show initial traction and validation.
Now, I can relate because I am speaking from experience and have learned this the hard way! Since I started Different Hunger, we have booked over $500,000+ in revenue, but I was a first-time founder and have made just about every mistake in the book you can think of. If you have been following the journey, you already know this and hopefully have enjoyed my struggles over the past few years as an onlooker.
So while we have had consecutive 6+ figure years, some of those were far from healthy years as I struggled to retain profits as well as I could have which turned out to be a very expensive lesson for me to learn, but one that will benefit me forever as it did when I pivoted from design to marketing agency…
When we first started our lead generation agency, profitability was our main focus and on the $17,500 monthly revenue that we generated in the first 60 days here’s the crazy thing. We were more profitable than one of my business partner’s friends agencies who was running a $3M per year business! See the graphic below for a breakdown of exactly how this worked out.
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This taught me that revenue is almost never a great indicator of business health and because of that I now measure net cashflow on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. We will soon be implementing financial tracking system in order to help our premium members measure and optimize their net profit, a fair better metric for measuring business health.
Lesson 2. Business transformation begins and ends with personal transformation
After working with more than 50 students inside our accelerator, our success rate (students who generate a positive ROI during their enrollment) is 92.6% (I plan to break down why the success rate is so high in another post, comment below if you’re curious). Now to give you some context, each and every student is accessing the same material, the same systems and the same access to on-going support.
Put simply, those who do the work and continue to implement and iterate over weeks and months will get results (this is why we now include 15 & 365 day guarantees to reverse risk).
Near the beginning of 2018, we had two students start within a few months of each other, from roughly the same level (both earning about $3,000 per month and working a lot as a solo freelancer). The first student, Jon Maxim, implemented like crazy and went on to build a 7-figure agency within 2 years while having multiple, consecutive 6-figure months. The other student, initially implemented, then after things didn’t begin working immediately within the first few weeks, he started to doubt himself, the process and eventually gave up before a quarter of implementation.
After some deeper digging, I learned that the second student was struggling with insomnia, only sleeping a few hours per night and eating poorly as well. I felt terrible that I hadn’t been aware of this prior and with that learned an incredibly powerful lesson.
This experience taught me that if I truly wanted to transform the lives of our members, I could not limit our support to solely business tactics and strategies. I had to go deeper, otherwise the lack of personal transformation would eventually sabotage all the hard work they had been doing.
This is exactly why 90% of new years resolutions fail. Because conscious intention and effort accounts for 1 to 10% of our output in life. The majority of who we are as human beings is the result of our subconscious programming. Helping our members transform their unconscious beliefs, thoughts and actions was the unlock that we failed to provide when starting out.
Because of this we have recently setup an accountability partner program to help members build long-term habits in business and life.
Every member of the program has been tracking not only marketing and sales metrics (daily outbound messages, amount of time doing CRM task and # of calls booked) but also mindfulness metrics like minutes meditated, gratitude journaling and hours slept. The results have been pretty amazing as 100% of members have found it valuable, have a look at what they said below:
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Lesson 3. Slow and steady growth is the most sustainable
Certainly this lesson as a headline certainly would not outperform “Double your income in the next 30 days!”, however, that doesn’t make it any less true. Setting crystal clear expectations for your product is nearly as important as the materials inside.
While we are no stranger to seeing our members achieve insane results in very short amounts of time (like Tyler Murdock who added $6K MRR in the first 14 days or Leo Ahmad who grew his agency from $0 to $85K per month in a little over a year)) these cases are the exception, not the norm, so while these results are certainly achievable, it’s important we do not set these expectations for members. Attachment and expectation are the origin of suffering, after all.
More importantly, it’s essential that I serve our members by showing them the benefits of slow, steady, compounding growth. I have seen far too many entrepreneurs and creatives accelerate far too quickly only to burn out followed by several months rebuilding their foundations.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – #Confucius via @differenthunger’s latest article: http://differenthunger.com/3-transformative-accelerator-lessons
I hope you found this breakdown valuable. What did you think of these lessons? Agree or disagree? Sound off in the comments.
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