7 Entrepreneurial Lessons From My 7-Figure Mentor

Michael Leonard
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I’m obsessed with speeding up the learning curve in anything I do.

Since becoming an overnight entrepreneur and quitting my job in 2017, I’ve spent a lot of money on coaching and online courses. I’d estimate it’s close to $50,000 at this point.

All with one goal — to build an epic online business that inspires the world and allows me to never go back to a 9–5.

Some of these programs were awesome, while others were a huge waste of money. But of all the programs I’ve invested in, working with James Wedmore has been the absolute best experience.

Not only has there been nearly instant ROI, his program — Business By Design — has transformed all areas of my life.

If you don’t know James Wedmore, here’s a quick overview:

  • An online entrepreneur for 12 years and has generated $40,000,000 in revenue
  • Host of Mind Your Business Podcast: Over 7 million downloads, 300+ episodes sharing
  • Helps struggling course creators and membership site owners become digital CEOs with his program, Business by Design

Success is an Inside Game

Prior to working with James, I was all about the hustle. I had thought success was all about working harder and longer than anyone else. But I tried this for a few years and found out it wasn’t the answer.

In fact, I ended up depressed, racking up credit card debt, and had no work-life balance at all. It wasn’t until I started working with Jim Fortin and James Wedmore that I realized success is an inside game. When I first heard James say, “Your business is a direct reflection of you,” it hit home.

My business was just that — my life was a mess and my business matched it perfectly.

You Can’t Do It Alone

For the longest time, I just wanted to go the solopreneur route and do it all myself. I did this for two years with minimal success. While my zone of genius was writing and podcasting, I was spending so much time on video editing, social media, and other small tasks that I shouldn’t have been doing.

James made me realize the importance of hiring a team to make your business goals come to life. As he said,

“The reason you can’t afford to outsource is because your haven’t been outsourcing.”

That quote hit me hard but it was true. My hourly rate for writing was between $100 to $150 at the time and I was still doing $10 an hour tasks in my business. It wasn’t until I hired a part-time VA and podcast editor that I saw a huge shift.

And after eight months, she was promoted to my project manager and I hired an editor as well. In less than a year I went from solopreneur to a team of four part-time team members.

While it’s scary to think you might not have the money yet to outsource, you’re wasting time which is much more important than money. Once I started growing my team, it freed up so much of my time to spend on my zone of genius and really start to grow the business.

Remember, you can’t be good at everything. You’ll be amazed at how much even a part-time VA can help you get your precious time back and spend your time on the big parts of your business.

Nail Your Niche

Before working with James, I didn’t have a niche. People didn’t know if I was a blogger, podcaster, writer, or golfer. I was all over the place.

It wasn’t until I went through a 2-day, eight-hour training with James that I realized the importance of having a niche. Having a niche allows you to:

  • Become known as an expert
  • Create content all-around one subject
  • Get to know your ideal audience and help them with a specific problem

Instantly, I rebranded everything and established myself as a freelance writing coach. I had built a 6-figure writing business in less than two years working part-time and knew I could help others.

So I changed my blog to only include content about freelance writing. I niched down my podcast to make it all about helping writers start their business and share my experiences. I changed my guests on the podcast to only include writers and authors.

Within a few months, niching down worked wonders! I quadrupled my podcast downloads, started attracting writers into my offers and had more motivation than ever knowing I was finally helping people.

Niching down changed everything in my online business.

If you want to make it as an online entrepreneur, you have to niche down so you can become an expert. And don’t worry, you can always broaden out in the future.

Know Your Audience

Another reason that niching down is so important is that you can get to know your audience at a deep level. Prior to establishing myself as a top freelance writing coach, I had broad topics on my blog and podcast. I didn’t really know who my audience was which made it hard to create the right content.

Finally, once I niched down I started reaching out directly to my audience. I would hop on calls with subscribers and DM people on Instagram to learn more about them. I wanted to know where they were in life, what they wanted, their biggest struggles, etc.

Doing this helped out so much. Once I learned the common problems that people were struggling with, I started creating content specifically for those issues. Common ones included:

  • Picking a writing niche
  • Developing an entrepreneurial mindset
  • How to get your first freelance writing client
  • Overcoming imposter syndrome and getting started writing

So if you want to build a personal brand that really helps people, you need to get to know them as if they’re a family member.

The deeper you know your audience, the easier it is to create content and market it correctly so more people can interact with you and your brand!

Understanding the Transformation is in the Transaction

Most of us hate selling. The term “sales” might even make your skin crawl.

I grew up the same way, always hating to be sold. Eventually, I got into sales in my mid-20s and found a lot of success — but it was selling a product that wasn’t my own, as I was working at Yelp.

But when I quit my job, I attempted to sell my own products and courses. All of it was based on my own knowledge and experience.

Pretty quickly, I realized selling yourself is very different from selling other products or services. I had so much doubt, fear, and imposter syndrome that I barely sold any of my own stuff, because I was too scared to market it — until I started working with James.

His motto (and now mine) is this…

“The transformation is in the transaction.”

Meaning, people don’t really see much change with free content. Sure, they might use some free stuff but in general, people are much more committed to making a lasting change when they spend money and invest in themselves.

Create an Ascension Model

Prior to working with James, I had one online course and a bunch of free content on YouTube, my blog, and my podcast. I always thought that more free content was the solution, but eventually, I burnt out.

Creating content is one thing, but if you don’t have an end goal — it’s exhausting. James helped me realize the importance of both free and paid offers to attract people into my business. Now, everything I create (aside from stuff on Medium), is geared toward helping people start freelance writing:

Here’s how James breaks down the ascension model processThis will help you create the right content and take people through your entire business, usually starting with free content (like a podcast, YouTube channel, or blog). Then, work your way up.

Take More Time Off

Finally, I learned the importance of rest and taking more time off, which has been hard for me to do. Prior to working with James, rest really didn’t exist. I worked seven days a week and pretty much did everything myself.

But one day, he said:

“The rest is the work.” — James Wedmore

Sometimes you need to recharge your batteries so you can stay motivated. It’s really hard to do your best work if you’re constantly feeling tired, burnt out, and exhausted.

While most online gurus will tell you to work harder, James will tell you the exact opposite. Instead, only work in your zone of genius on stuff that excites you and hire out the rest.

Remember, entrepreneurship isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. If you go too hard for too long, you’ll end up quitting before things get good. Instead, schedule your rest, vacations, and self-care so you can show up as the best version of you inside your business.

To build your own business by design, make sure that you utilize these seven lessons to drastically speed up your entrepreneurial success.

If you’re struggling right now, just know that you can get through it. But it will likely take a different approach than doing the same thing that you’ve been doing.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • Work on yourself: If you want to become a successful entrepreneur, in the long run, work on yourself as much as you work on your business. Your business is a direct reflection of you!
  • Grow a team: You can’t build a million-dollar business if you spend all of your time on $10/hour tasks. There’s only so much time in the day and it’s up to you to protect your time and stay in your zone of genius. Start outsourcing work so you can stay focused and make the impact and income you want to make.
  • Nail your niche: People want to follow and work with experts — no one is good at everything. If you don’t niche down, you’ll likely never get the results you want. It’s up to you to find a niche and build a name for yourself. As you become more successful, you can always broaden out in the future.
  • Know your audience: Once you niche down, get to know your ideal audience as if you’re a family member! The more you know them, the better content you can create to help them get results in their life or business.
  • Reframe how you think about selling: Adopt the mantra, “The transformation is in the transaction.” The better you are at believing your stuff and knowing that people won’t get results unless they invest in your stuff, the more success you will have.
  • Create an ascension model: Have a suite of products at different price points all about the same offer. Remember, there are always going to be individuals who want the VIP experience while others might want the lowest one. Having several offers will help you attract more people into your business.
  • Take more time off: I know this sounds counterintuitive but it really works. When you take time off, you can recharge, look at your business from a 30,000-foot view, and get clear on what you need to do next.

As Tony Robbins said, “Success leaves clues.”

These clues from James Wedmore have helped me build a thriving online business and I wanted to share them with you.

In a post-pandemic era, there has never been a better time to build an online business and share your gifts with the world. Go out there and make it happen.

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My name is Michael Leonard and I am the creator of Inspire Your Success. I'm on a mission to help readers build online writing businesses and quit their jobs to live a life of freedom!

Scottsdale, AZ
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