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How to Scale An Online Business Selling What You Know

So, you’ve got things running in your online business, and you think you’re ready to up your game. This is the time you’re thinking about creating a scaled product for your knowledge brand. In this post, you’ll learn what objectives and milestones you should focus on during this phase.

We call this the Scientist Phase, which is the fourth stage in the seven phases of building an online business.  

And you reach this point when you’ve already signed up 1,000 people on your email list. It’s a sign that you have enough of an audience who can tell you what product they want from you and that they’re willing to pay for it.

Want to dive a little deeper into the subject? Listen to Bobby discuss the concepts in this post in Episode 280 on the Certified BADA$$ Online Marketing Podcast™!

The following post was taken from the transcript of Episode 280 of the Certified BADA$$ Online Marketing Podcast™.

What Is The Scientist Phase?

Two scientists with exaggerated facial expressions appear to be experimenting with knobs and devices

A lot of people would consider the Scientist Phase as the fun part of building a knowledge brand, the type of business that you build around your knowledge and expertise.

It’s the part where you get to do a lot more interesting work for your business. We call it the Scientist phase because it involves quite a bit of experimentation.

You’re approaching your online business like a scientist. You have a hypothesis and you try things out, you test, you learn, and you iterate.

The problem that you’re trying to solve in this phase of building your knowledge brand is how to create a scalable offer.

But Wait, What Does Scaling Mean?

Man with eyes looking upwards and lips pursed together with expression of wonder and questioning.

Scaling normally means that you’re able to increase your revenue faster than expenses go up.

Some people would say that scaling is when you raise revenue without expenses going up at all, but I don’t think that’s an accurate representation.

As you increase your revenue, you’ll always have increased costs.

The key is the delta. The difference between your revenue and your costs as an entire business grows as you scale and grow significantly.

So that’s the definition of scaling.

The Agency Model of Scaling a Knowledge Business

The agency model is one of the most traditional ways that people who sell services based on knowledge and expertise have grown their business.

Law firms, account firms, consulting firms—all those professional firms use the agency model.

This model is when you, as the person at the top, hire a team and get them to do the work so that you’re no longer the only one to do it.

It’s one of the simplest ways to grow your business. You get a bit of leverage in a service business by outsourcing or hiring people and delegating the more routine tasks to them.

You’re paying your team and taking a portion of what your customers are paying for their services.

In this phase, if you follow the agency model, you don’t come up with a new offer. What happens is that you modify your existing offer in a way that people can still get the same results without you having to spend all your time on it.

You create the systems and document what you do, and make it something that can be replicated. You create a model that other people could execute.

The Productized Model of Scaling a Knowledge Brand

The agency model is probably not how you anticipate scaling. Most people in the online knowledge business space are looking to build a scaled offer that’s more productized.

What the heck does that mean?

It means that it’s not simply about doing service. It’s about creating a course, a membership, or a group coaching program.

It means that you’re moving away from one-to-one and creating a one-to-many offer.

That’s the classic work that you’ll do in the Scientist phase.

FAIR WARNING: This isn’t an easy process.

As much as people want to make it seem like it’s easy to create a course, a membership, or a coaching program… it’s actually not.

Finding a way to take what you’re able to do and the results you’re able to get people when you work directly with them one-on-one… and creating a productized version that will get even half of the people the same results is hard.

You don’t just come up with a process that you teach a few people working for you. Instead, you come up with a process that your customers can implement themselves or with your help in a group setting.

A lot of people get stuck here, which brings us to the next point.

What Do You Need To Do In The Scientist Phase Of Building A Business?

Woman looking with one eye through a magnifying glass. Has facial expression of aha.

During the Scientist Phase, you’ve got to do the work to understand your audience more deeply.

  • What does your audience need?
  • What are the key components of their needs?
  • What are the things they don’t need?

Then, you put something out there and see how it works. You see how the market responds and you learn from it.

You’ll see whether you need to throw the scaled product idea out, pivot, or tweak it slightly.

  1. Figure Out the Product-Market Fit

You need to come up with a product that fits your market like a glove so that it’ll just start to go and sell itself. That’s the goal during the scientist phase.

What I’ll tell you, though, is that there’s no clear test that will tell you when you’ve got the perfect product-market fit.

But you can kinda feel it.

It works when you don’t have to work too hard to sell the product or use ultra-aggressive sales techniques to get people to buy from you.

What does that kind of offer look like?

It should be easy to sell AND it should be getting people results.

To find the right product, you need both. And you can do that by figuring out what it is specifically that your audience needs based on what stage they are in their journey.

Come up with your list of what you believe your audience needs (which is your hypothesis) and then you need to go and see what the market will tell you.

  1. Do a Qualitative Testing

This means talking to your audience. Get into calls with your audience and understand what they need, what they don’t need, their pain points, etc. Ask open-ended questions.

Remember that these calls aren’t about you telling them your ideas and getting validation.

Instead, you need to be open to what they’ve got to say, and by default, you should expect to be wrong with what you think they’re gonna say.

You need to have the conversations and listen carefully so that you’ll actually hear what they say.

When you’ve talked to your audience, you can come up with a solution. Then, you go back to them and share your ideas to get some feedback.

  1. Do Quantitative Testing

Beyond the qualitative ways to test your ideas, you should do quantitative testing too.

Now, don’t expect that you’re gonna create a product that’s perfect and polished from the outset.

One way to test your scaled product idea is through a beta launch.

You need to do an actual launch to your existing audience and make them pay.

That’s because people telling you what they want is different than people buying it. So, until someone has pulled out their credit card and bought the product, you don’t know for sure that it’s something that the market wants.

Now here’s an important note: you need to price your beta launch somewhere in the ballpark of how much you think its price would be, ultimately. Not 50% below that or a hugely discounted price.

For example, $20 for something doesn’t tell you that there’s a market that will pay $100 for that same product.

If you don’t make enough sales, you refund those people. Then you talk to your audience to figure out why they decided not to buy.

You’ll learn what about the offer that didn’t resonate. Is it the messaging, the offer itself, or something else?

Then, you go back to the drawing board, pivot, change, and iterate.

If you make enough sales, you’ll learn if it’s worth going out and creating the product.

So that’s the process that you’ll go through during the scientist phase.

The Biggest Milestone in the Scientist Phase of Building an Online Business

Man with hand gesture of "hang-ten" with pinky finger and thumb out. Facial expression with mouth open. Appears to imitate a rockstar.

How do you know you’ve got phase four all figured out?

It’s when you get to the point that your product seems to sell itself and you’re having consistent $10,000 months. It’s what we call the entrepreneurial minimum wage, and that’s your goal here.

It’s a sign that you’ve got the momentum.

It’s not guaranteed, but for the most part, if you can hit $10,000 months, you should be able to continue to grow your knowledge brand from there.

Assuming that your market is big enough and you can do all the other important things right, you can make your online business bigger and bigger.

It’s a very amorphous phase. Your focus is finding the right offer that can scale and work without you having to do everything in the business in a direct one-to-one relationship.

You don’t know that you have a good product until people are consistently paying you for it because that’s a sign that you’ve found the right thing.

But until you’ve gotten to that point, it’s going to be tough.

If it feels like it’s hard to sell your product over and over again, you’re not there yet even if you’re at $10,000 a month. You shouldn’t have to work that hard. You have to reach the point that it feels so easy.

The Bottom Line of How to Scale Your Online Business

Here’s the key lesson here: What you think is going to be the right product will almost certainly be wrong. The first product you launch will almost certainly be wrong. You’re going to have to iterate, make it better, change it, tweak it, do lots of different things to make it actually work.

You need to be willing to do that and to listen to your audience. When everything feels so easy, you know you’ve got the right product. So, you can exit to the next phase, where your focus will be the money and how to grow your revenue. That’s what we’re going to talk about next.

In the meantime, why don’t you join our totally free training program called BADA$$ Online Marketing University (BOMU)? If you’re an online business owner who’s trying to figure out and learn all the things when it comes to building and marketing your online business, BOMU is for you.

About Bobby Klinck

Harvard Lawyer and Online Entrepreneur

About Bobby Klinck