7 steps I followed to build a multimillion-dollar empire

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A high-school friend wanted to know how I built a multimillion-dollar company. I thought about answering her privately, but since I've been blessed to share my message on a larger scale, I figure that maybe readers might want to see the seven steps to build a multimillion-dollar empire:


Find your gift.

When you start out, you must realize that you have raw talents, skills, and abilities. Sometimes you'll have to go out of your way to find them for yourself. No one will find your gifts for you. You have to search for them on your own. Once you do, make a special effort to do what you do best, whether it's dancing, drawing, or driving.

As a teenager, I would write poems to impress the girls I liked. One of these girls loved it so much that she continued to talk with me. I decided to write her more poems. Because she helped me exercise my gift of expressing my words through poetry, I made her my wife. Soon enough, she encouraged me to use my words and tell my story.

Tell your story.

No one has the same exact story as you do! It doesn't matter what profession you're in — you must still learn to tell your story. When I started to tell my story, it taught me a lot about myself. It also led me to better opportunities because it improved my communication skills. What's your story? When are you going to share it?

Most people should take the time to think about their story. Your story is important because it tells the world where you've been, who you are, and where you're about to go. Truthfully, everyone wants to know your story. Do yourself a favor and write your life story out in 5-10 pages. Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be perfect. Who knows? Maybe it might turn into a book!

Make a product.

As I learned to tell my story, I decided to write a book about it. However, I didn't just want the book to be about me, but about what others can do to take charge of their lives. My burning desire led me to quit MBA school at Penn State University and write my first book, "You Are the Boss!" in less than 10 days. That same year, I started my business and sold thousands of copies.

If you want to build a multimillion-dollar business, you need a product to sell and a story to tell. When you look at the biggest brands out there, they share a story along with their products and services. Thankfully, it doesn't cost that much to make a product that fits the needs of the people you're trying to serve. What kind of product can you make within the next few months?

Expand.

As I endeavored to make a difference with my book, I knew I needed to expand. Because I wanted to build an empire, I launched Dignify Designs, which helped me to consult with entrepreneurs on how they can brand, promote, and market their businesses. Fortunately, I found that my expansion was totally compatible with what I was already doing.

As I began to serve my clients successfully, my business grew immeasurably. Now, I had different sources of income and new ways to serve people. Along the way, I found new ways to improve my business, even in the smallest ways. All I did was ask the greatest question in the world: "How can I deliver more value to more people in less time?"

Build systems.

As your business expands, you'll need to create systems that support you. Systems that work in your favor will keep your empire from overwhelming you. The right system allows you to protect your most valuable asset: your time. Instead of rushing into false pressures, non-emergencies, and menial tasks, your systems will help you organize and prioritize your tasks.

I have amazing systems that track my success. I know exactly what I'm doing and how much impact each task produces. You won't find me working on a $5 activity, like deleting emails, when I could be doing a $50,000 activity, like answering my clients, prospects, and fans (in that order). Automation and systematizing your business will help you create an empire.

Hire.

Once your systems have gone beyond your own capabilities, it's time to hire people to help you. For some strange reason, many aspiring entrepreneurs want to call themselves the CEO of the company and assign positions to people who shouldn't even be in their business in the first place. Hiring and training people is a serious duty because of all the responsibilities it entails.

In my business, I've been able to multiply my income because of those who I've hired: graphic designers, editors, social media and website managers, lawyers, personal assistants, and other specialists. Whether my hired help are virtual or face-to-face, I let them do what they do best as I take care of what I do best: producing content.

Mass produce.

Once you get a good grip on serving your market, you're going to want to scale and leverage your business. To build a multi-million dollar empire, you'll need to produce on a massive level. However, the only way you can cater to the masses is by using your feedback to reach a bigger audience. You should be able to get this feedback from those you've already served.

When you build your competence, your confidence grows. Personally, I feel more confident after each video, article, and speech I produce. Eventually, the marketplace showed me how to engineer bigger and better products and services to reach more people. When you serve hundreds of people, thousands will show up. If you take care of thousands, millions will come. Try it!

Success begets success. If you start where you are and absorb the opportunities around you, you'll be able to drink the joys of life. You have to take what you get in life to get what you want out of life. Building a multi-million dollar empire is about learning how to serve people on a small level, then taking it to the highest level.

Related: 10 smart ways to invest your money to become a millionaire

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7 steps I followed to build a multimillion-dollar empire

Include taxes in your tally. 

Withdrawing money from retirement accounts is, of course, not a free ride, so $1 million gross is not $1 million net. “If the $1 million were in a traditional 401(k) or IRA, all withdrawals would be taxable,” says Christine Pavel, vice president of wealth management at GCG Financial in Deerfield, Illinois. “You also have to consider how much the investor will withdrawal from the portfolio, and for how long.” Assuming 3 percent inflation, looking forward 30 years and accounting for retirement account taxes, “An investor would be lucky to be able to withdraw $20,000 or less from the account for 30 years,” she says. 

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Compounding counts. 

If you're in your 20s and start investing now, you’re in luck, says Joe Jennings, wealth director for PNC Wealth Management in Baltimore. “Due to the power of compounding, the first dollar saved is the most important, as it has the most growth potential over time,” he says. As an example, Jennings compares $10,000 saved at age 25 versus age 60. “The 25-year-old has 40 years of growth potential at the average retirement age of 65, whereas $10,000 saved at age 60 only has five years of growth potential,” he says.

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Consider annuities as a building block. 

Annuities, which people purchase to get an expected payout once they reach maturity – usually at or after retirement age – also have a rough reputation, particularly indexed annuities. But last year’s Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract regulation by the IRS set guidelines for investors to create their own pensions. “You can invest and put money in a retirement account, and with annuity guarantees that you will never outlive your money,” says Stan “The Annuity Man” Haithcock, an annuities expert and author of the book, "The Annuity Stanifesto," based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

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Safety first. 

It may seem sexier to get in on the latest initial public offering or that new stock your Uncle Mortimer promises will take off. But that’s no way to build a nest egg through the years, says Jim Merklinghaus, founder and president of JBM Financial in Rutherford, New Jersey. “My philosophy has been a conservative approach to retirement, investing consistently over a 30-year period of time. If your principal is 100 percent safe, you have already accounted for 12 years of a normal 30-year retirement. The plan that avoids the loss of principal far exceeds the joy of temporary returns,” he says.

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Diversify between companies large and small. 

Risk tolerance and portfolio mix are major factors in getting to $1 million, and they’ll differ depending on the investor. But if there’s one universal that applies, ”The portfolio should be diversified among large- and small-company stocks, domestically as well as in established foreign countries and emerging markets,” says Kenneth Moraif, senior advisor at Money Matters in Plano, Texas. “The appropriate allocation in each of these asset classes will be determined by the investor’s time horizon, their current assets, age and tax bracket.” 

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Use that 401(k) all the way. 

Since retirement is the major savings goal with most nest eggs, make sure you maximize your retirement savings, says Andy Saeger, vice president and senior financial consultant at Charles Schwab in Naperville, Illinois. “Max out your 401(k) or other employer retirement plan, especially if you receive matching contributions. If you're age 50 or older, make catch-up contributions. If you can afford to save more, you may be eligible to open and contribute to an IRA, where your money can grow tax-deferred or tax-free until retirement,” Saeger says.

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Thou shalt pay thyself first

What used to be simple, sound advice is more of a commandment when $1 million or more is the goal. “If you make the financial plan first and then build your life around it, the outcomes are typically very positive,” says Mike Chadwick, CEO of Chadwick Financial Advisors in Unionville, Connecticut. “Most people do the opposite: They set up their life and then try to save after the fact, when it’s painful to do so. When something is paid off, save the extra money and you won’t feel the pain. And when you get raises, save the money until you’re on target.”

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Avoid the temptation to spend first. 

Most investors, especially in their younger years, think they can easily make up for copious spending and shopping. “This is certainly possible, but will require a potentially difficult, if not impossible, return on the investment or a significant increase in savings,” says Bellaria Jimenez, managing partner with MetLife Premier Client Group, based in Cranford, New Jersey. ”Investors must ignore temptations to spend and instead save.”

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Patience, patience, patience. 

Just as it takes years to get to retirement age, you’ll want to stick it out, as some investments hit expected bumps. “Over a typical working career, an investor can expect to experience at least eight to 12 poor market years,” says Jakob Loescher, a financial advisor with Savant Capital Management and based in Rockford, Illinois. “During these years, it’s important that the individual remain patient and not make any large market-timing mistakes.”

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And finally, answer the $2.3 million question. 

That’s how much money you’d need in 2045 to have the same purchasing power as $1 million today, assuming a 3 percent annual inflation figure. So how do you get to $2.3 million? “Assuming a starting account value of $50,000 and an 8 percent return on assets, an investor would need to deposit $13,500 at the beginning of each year over the next 30 years to achieve that result,” says Andrew Gluck, managing director of wealth management at GCG Financial.

(Photo: Getty)

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