Making Millions Starts With Knowing This

In 2013, my company produced almost $7 million in annual revenue. That's almost $20,000 in sales each day. We had almost 40 employees and a highly motivated and engaged following of consumers.

But just two and half years prior, it was only an idea. I remember storming into the room of my good friend (and roommate at the time). I looked him in the eye, shared my idea, and he responded with, “I'm in!”

Looking back, I never realized how important his willingness to follow me really was. He was in his last year of college to become a civil engineer and had no previous plans to help a friend start a new business venture.

And of all the pivotal moments on our journey, I now understand his decision was the true catalyst for Sevenly's success. The video below will explain what I mean.

So if you're a lone nut (entrepreneur or dreamer), you need to remember a few important things:

1. Your first follower is incredibly important. You must nurture this person. Offer them good pay, or give them stock in the company, and give them public praise often. They must feel like a partner or an equal in a bigger mission, not just a follower of you.

2. Be Easy To Follow. Your vision must be clear, concise and not too outrageous. You must have integrity and not stretch the boundaries of team member's comfort zones. They are still learning if your vision is even worth their time.

3. Your first follower must show new followers how to follow. My COO (and roommate) did an incredible job of backing my vision. If he disagreed, he would speak up (privately) and more times than not, we would find a solution. But it was his public calmness in times of adversity that brought peace to the other team members.

Looking back, I wasn't the best lone nut. I missed a few of these lessons on the road. Luckily, my first follower was capable of pushing through without them. He was the true brave leader in my story.

Who's your first follower? Are you nurturing them, caring for them, and making them feel equal? Let me know in the comments below.

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20 Responses

  1. Dale, I just discovered your blog. Inspiring post. Does it matter what the “it” is to create your first follower?

      1. The initial dancer was in the groove to the band in the background. The first follower joined in the groove. A huge following joined the groove.

        Do you think the masses would have followed suit with the first guy if he was doing something insanely ridiculous, i.e. booing the band?

  2. Dale, this is both hilarious AND amazing! This is probably the most important lesson I have learned to date about starting a movement/business. I love this, and I love your blog, I continuously learn so much from your words of wisdom. Keep up the hard and incredible work!

  3. This was awesome. Congratulations on having a true friend, those are hard to com by. And these are some good lessons. Reminds me of a “kings right hand man” sort of scenario. Treat them well and they’ll always have your back.

  4. Dale, you are the second person I’ve heard of who started their “Dream into Career” business using their own name but adding a business partner. Do you recommend this when starting out?

  5. Dale – I’m in the beginning stages of starting my project, but need to continue to work full time until it’s successful enough to provide decent income. Aside from the friend you mentioned, how did you build your network of followers? How did you build your email list? How do you target the niche that is specific to each charity you partner with at Sevenly? I’m finding it challenging to make connections and to make enough time to get this off the ground, while continuing to work my day job.

    1. I think you might want to check out his Startup Camp coming up. I’m in a similar place as you, beginning a new project while I have a lot of other responsibilities and trying to figure out how answer a lot of the same questions you asked.

      1. David Ramos, I am looking into Startup Camp as well. Have you started the courses? If so, how did you like them? I’m excited to try it, but it is an expense I am carefully considering.

        1. No I haven’t started the courses yet either. It’s definitely an expense I will have to budget for in the new year but I hope to be able to sign up by mid-Spring 2015.

  6. Inspiring post Dale, I especially love the public praise part. It’s so vital to make your partner feel their importance of being part of the company.

  7. My first follower was my first customer. She purchased my product without any product reviews or testimonials posted and I was nobody. I would keep in touch with her and all my first 20 customers. I will give them a surprise gift for the New Year. Thanks for a great article as always.

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