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How Difficult is Getting to $1M?

My coach was pretty shocked when I said, “I’m not sure I want to work that hard”.

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and 90% of the time it doesn’t feel like work at all. But when I stop and think about what it would take to reach my income goals and the goal of possibly selling my business, I really have to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask, “Why do I need or want that much?”

Every day I meet new speakers running thru my private coaching or classes who have pretty lofty financial goals. One of the first conversations we have is around focused hustle and what it takes to get to a seven-figure business.

By posting this in the summer, I hope I’ll give you some food for thought around your goals and aspirations and what it’s going to take to make them come to fruition.

Let’s run through a few questions that might allow you to see whether or not your goals are aligned with your desire and work ethic.

First, let’s see if you have cleared the space needed for your goals.

  1. Have you set aside the time to pursue this business?
  2. Have you put away enough cash to start or advance your business?
  3. Do you have the energy to launch or reinvent your business? A typical speaking business takes three years of consistent marketing and sales to see results. A reinvention takes less time, but still a lot of work.

If you can check these boxes above, let’s move on to step two.

Next, let’s identify your income goal:

Group AYou have a desire to earn $50-$150K. An income that is good by many people’s standards. (Average income in 2017 in Canada was $70K and average income in the US $50-$60K.)

What’s required to get there? Let’s say you want to get to six figures, $100,000. Your fee is $3,500 and you’ll need to do 29 speeches or 2.5 per month in order to get there.

The numbers: Perhaps it takes 40 connects (emails, phone calls, social connects) to equal one booking – that’s over 1000 connections and communications per year. (This is a really rough average since sometimes a google search pops up your name and it’s one contact and booked. Those, by the way, are gifts from heaven. But you likely put out a blog or a podcast or were active on social media for years to show up in the google search high enough to be found, so work is required even when it looks like a gift.)

Be Good Marketing: Another way to launch quickly is to be good enough from the platform, and in front of the right audiences to get two to three spin-offs from each presentation. Your job is going to be exponentially harder if this is not happening, so spending time, energy and money getting your message honed and your delivery epic is required.

Group BYour goal is to earn $150-$500K per year. Let’s choose the average of $325,000. Your plan might be to do 40 engagements at $7,500 per year. When you add product sales and other revenue streams, that puts you in a comfortable financial position.

At this level, there is likely more team involved, and you need a very healthy sales and marketing pipeline. You are likely writing every week and posting to your blog and various social outlets, perhaps you have a column in a well-known publication, you might even have a podcast.

All of the efforts in Group A are required here, but now we need more sophisticated systems and operations to ensure that the pipeline is staying full. It’s not uncommon to let the funnel dry up because you are out delivering keynotes or training. But, at this stage, it’s very important to keep the engine chugging along 24/7.

Group CYou want to move past $500 to $1M and beyond. Let’s say $1M is the goal. That means your fee is closer to $20,000 and you are sitting at 50 speeches per year. Now, I know you CAN do more than 50 in a year, but I believe that there’s a price to pay physically, mentally and with your home life if that happens. I heard recently that one of the top speaking superstars did 150 engagements at $30K per gig. Now, I don’t know this person directly, but I have to wonder if this takes a toll on his health and happiness at home. Is it worth it?

What’s required to get this machine running is some serious hustle, a marketing machine that never stops, a solid team who keeps everything running smoothly, excellent sales and closing ratios and possibly some partners or middlemen (i.e., speakers bureaus, corporate sponsors, etc.). This could also be more of a training operation where you’ve got people out delivering your content for you. You may have revenue streams outside of speaking like: products, webinars, consulting, coaching, membership clubs, courses, groups, live events, etc.

And if you get all of your intellectual property and sales funnels moved into systems, you may have a company that you can sell.

The stakes are higher at this level, the problems are attached to bigger price tags. The hustle required to pump out great content consistently can become a burden. But if you love sharing your ideas, are comfortable putting a strong team in place around you and are prepared to invest in order to get to this level, kudos! Go for it!


I love nothing more than sharing different ways of doing things.

Joe Calloway is well established in group C and guess what? He has no staff, he doesn’t schlep product, or sell back of room at gigs. Nor does he have six different income streams. He does only keynotes and a small amount of consulting. Book sales are in advance. Joe’s goal is to keep his business incredibly simple and invest wisely in other arenas, like real estate.

I interviewed David Avrin for our podcast called Sales Secrets for Booking More Business and he mentioned the strategy of keeping the fee reasonable ($10-$15K) in order to remain very busy. He has a strong team and several diverse revenue streams.

There is never only one way to do this business.

I hope I have laid out some ideas and some work requirements that will allow you to see where you might up your game or opt out. Remember, this is your business to run however you choose and based on what’s perfect for you!

Are your financial goals within your work ethic? If not, how are you fixing that?

See you soon, Wealthy Speakers!



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