The Three Levels Of Being An Online Business Brand

three-levels-being-online-business-brand

In the online business space, there are a lot of big name brands. People everyone knows and whose names we frequently throw around as success stories and case studies.

When someone wants to start an online business, they often look to these big names as examples of what they want to build someday.

I want to have a blog, a podcast, a course, a membership community, a SAAS app, a fancy autoresponder sequence, speaking engagements and a bestselling book that teaches people something about having a business, chasing a passion, and have an awesomely awesome life of awesomeness.

We want that because that’s what the big names have. But those big names are often at level 3 of the game.

Like with anything in life, you can’t get to level 3 without first going through level 2 and you can’t get to level 2 without going through level 1.

Seems simple enough right?

Grant, what the crap are you talking about with these levels?

I’m glad you asked.

Level 1 in business requires that you get really good at something.

Level 2 is that you teach what you learned in level 1.

Level 3 allows you to move to other markets and niches.

Let me give you some examples to demonstrate this…

Pat Flynn

Pat’s brand teaches people how to build smart, passive income streams. But Pat didn’t come right out of the gate and start there. He started by creating and selling an ebook to teach people how to pass a random architectural exam (level 1).

As he continued to learn more about that and dial in how to best do it, it gave him the credibility and platform to teach it to others (level 2). Today he teaches on a variety of related subjects that have nothing to do with writing and selling an ebook (level 3), but because he went through the first two levels, he can do that.

Michael Hyatt

Michael has positioned himself as “Your Virtual Mentor.” It’s a great brand and one many people would love to do. Being a virtual mentor sounds cool. But long before he planted his stake in the ground for that, he taught people about publishing.

He was the CEO of Thomas Nelson publishing and was an expert in that space (level 1). It allowed him to then teach on that topic (level 2). After building that platform as a publishing expert, he’s been able to go more broad and teach people about goal-setting, platform-building, and writing a blog (level 3).

Amy Porterfield

Amy is known for Facebook marketing. It’s a hot topic that a lot of people are interested in, and Amy knows that world inside and out. Amy got really good at Facebook marketing (level 1) and then began teaching it to others through courses (level 2).

Today, in addition to Facebook marketing, she teaches people about list-building, sales funnelsk webinars and other online business topics (level 3). But that doesn’t happen unless she first starts with getting really good at Facebook marketing.

Let me give you one more example…

Tim Ferris

If you said you were at level 1 and wanted to build an audience around lifestyle design, health & fitness, and write a book about learning disguised as a cookbook, people would think you’re crazy. Tim started at level 1 by writing what he’s most commonly known for, The 4-Hour Work Week.

He not only lived that life but then taught it to others (level 2). Because of that audience and the credibility he built, he was then able to go into seemingly unrelated markets to write The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef (level 3).

Do you see what these (and many others online) have in common?

You have to start at level 1 and get really good at something. Then you can move to level 2 and teach others about what you’ve learned. Finally, as you build your audience, you can go broader with level 3.

So what does this mean for you?

1. You can’t skip levels. Let’s be honest…level 3 is pretty sexy. Being viewed as an online (or offline) business expert or guru seems pretty cool. Having lots of topics you can talk about that people look to you for is awesome. But there is no cheat code to skip to level 3. You have to start at level 1.

2. Pick ONE topic (or audience) for your level 1. You can’t start level 1 by trying to get good at a bunch of different topics. That doesn’t work. Pick ONE topic/niche/market you can dominate and then eventually you can move to other areas.

3. You can’t teach what you don’t know. I think it would be interesting to teach people about Facebook advertising. It seems to be a hot topic and a growing opportunity. But you know what I don’t know a ton about? Facebook advertising. So I can’t skip to level 2 and start teaching something I haven’t lived.

4. Start narrow and build broad. In the examples above, Pat, Michael, Amy, and Tim each teach a wide variety of different subjects and topics. But they didn’t start like that. They got really good at something narrow before moving to something more broad.

You can’t just skip levels by hopping in a magical green tube like this is Super Mario Brothers. It doesn’t work like that.

You want to get to the level that your mentors and heroes are at?

Be willing to put in the work they did that got them to where they are.

 

Image courtesy of: sunnyUK

15 replies
  1. Heath Padgett
    Heath Padgett says:

    Great post Grant. This is really good perspective. Also, I feel like something else that would be encouraging to know is just how long those people spent in the first level. For instance, Michael Hyatt spent years and years working his way up through Thomas Nelson. Most people want a short cut, but it’s sometimes helpful to know that things take time. Great post.

    Reply
  2. sibilant
    sibilant says:

    This is exactly what I needed today. For the past few days I’ve been stressing – “What if this one book doesn’t sell? Should I branch out?” But I know you are right. Stay on target!

    Reply
    • David Bressler
      David Bressler says:

      Depends on your book – but maybe you need to think about who needs your book and develop personas so that you can find them, then speak very directly to them.

      For example, I’ve written a book on investing. One persona I’ve developed is the “freelancer”. I speak at events attended by freelancers, I know where to find them (online), and have started to talk about my methodology in terms they refer to their own freelance practices (income streams and side projects).

      Good luck.

      David
      http://ElephantsPaycheck.com

      Reply
      • sibilant
        sibilant says:

        Hi David,

        Good points. My book is Project Management for Authors. So the audience is pretty obvious. 🙂 I am part of a writing community, so I am familiar with the struggles.

        Honestly, I think I’m just getting nervous about waiting for the income streams to start. But understanding that I’m at step 1 is helpful.

        Reply
        • David Bressler
          David Bressler says:

          There are lots of types of authors. Do non-fiction authors hang out with fiction authors? What about “blog authors” which probably hang in different places than “short story authors” who in turn are different places than romance authors. I think you can break it down further to find an audience even if your book speaks to them all.

          Good luck. It’s totally nerve-wracking.

          Reply
  3. Evan T. Cook
    Evan T. Cook says:

    Perfectly simple with great examples, Grant. Thanks.

    I think this is where a lot of us get tripped up. We think that becoming really good at something locks us into that forever when really it’s just the opposite. Getting really good at something shows you can get really good at something (to yourself and to others) so this actually opens up more opportunities to explore and try new things.

    So I have to ask. You’re really good at speaking (Level 1). You’re teaching it to others via Booked & Paid to Speak (Level 2 and a shoutout to your awesome program. Anyone reading this has to check it out.).

    That leaves us with Level 3. What’s in the pipeline for GB?

    Reply
  4. Danie Botha
    Danie Botha says:

    You reiterate with flair the importance of focus – pick one topic (or audience) and become a master/expert in it. Then, and only then take the next step to widen your scope. Ties in brilliantly with what they taught us this weekend at the Tribe conference in Nashville.
    Thanks, Grant!

    Reply
  5. Tommy O
    Tommy O says:

    Great post Grant! I’m trying to figure out my level one right now. I’ve got a lot of ideas bouncing around about what that should be, but do you have any tips or other articles on how to narrow down your level 1? Thanks!

    Reply

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