A guest post by Elaine Pofeldt, author of The Million-Dollar One-Person Business.

Not long ago, on a radio interview about my book The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business, the host surprised me by asking a question along the lines of, “Isn’t it just the owners’ personalities that get them to $1 million in revenue? Aren’t they just different type of people from everyone else?”

Having interviewed entrepreneurs in more than 30 nonemployer businesses who broke $1 million in revenue or got very close to it for the book, I told her the answer is “No.” There is no “million-dollar personality” that these entrepreneurs have and others lack.

For one thing, these folks were all over the map demographically. They ranged from millennials to people in their fifties. They were also people with very varied personal interests, from nutrition to real estate.  

What they did have in common, in many cases, was more of an attitude. They were more willing to invest the attention and resources growing their businesses than many owners I meet. If you’d like to follow their lead, here are some ideas.

Embrace a “growth” mindset.

In her book Mindset, Carol Dweck looks at two mindsets and how they factor into success. Those who have the “growth” mindset believe they can build on qualities like intelligence and talent. Those with the “fixed” mindset think talent in itself creates success, regardless of effort.

The owners of million-dollar, nonemployer businesses I interviewed for the book and in other journalism work all seemed to share the growth mindset. Although all of them were very smart business owners, they didn’t behave as if their success was a given. They continually looked for ways to develop their talents and abilities.

Selena Soo, 35, whom I recently interviewed for Forbes, is a good example. She runs S2 Groupe, a profitable marketing and publicity consultancy in New York City. Soo brings in most of her revenue through online courses, such as one called Impacting Millions that last year brought in close to $1 million in revenue. Her business, founded in 2012, brings in $1.6 million in revenue overall, and for most of the time she has run it, has not had any W-2 employees. She hired a senior project manager in June 2017.

So why is Soo so different from the many entrepreneurs who struggle to hit six-figure revenue and beyond? One reason may be that she believes in personal development—something that many entrepreneurs view as a luxury they don’t have time for.

Soo made a big investment in joining a Mastermind Group run by Monica Shah, a business coach for coaches, creative professionals and entrepreneurs. That led her to create a course called Elevate Your Brand that at the time, enabled her to double her revenue. She also participated in a course by financial guru Ramit Sethi called Zero to Launch, where she learned how do effective market research, among other things. That course ultimately led to her development of a course called Get Known, Get Clients, from which she made $150,000 by charging 50 students $3,000. By investing in her own development, Soo was able to generate a lot more revenue.

Mastermind Groups and courses can get pricey, but you don’t have to spend a fortune on taking classes and joining groups. Finding a good Meetup group in your area filled with serious entrepreneurs can serve the same purpose.

Put the right systems in place.

Automation is not a new idea. It’s in the headlines every day. But even though many entrepreneurs know they should be using it to make processes like keeping in touch with customers more efficient, there’s a knowing-doing gap. A surprising number of the small business owners I interview still do things like keeping their books on Excel spreadsheets or answer every customer email manually, instead of setting up automated messages for certain scenarios.

The folks who run million-dollar, one-person businesses take the time to actually put the automation in place. They don’t just know they should use online accounting software. They block out time to get set up in QuickBooks, Freshbooks, Xero or one of the other major systems out there, or they pay their accountant to set them up. They don’t just know they should automate their email responses—they schedule time to get their CRM system set up to do that—and learn how to use it.

If you’ve been putting off automating manual tasks in your business that suck up a lot of time, start scheduling some setup time into your calendar. In many cases, once you get set up, you’ll seldom have to think about your systems again. If you invest just 15 hours this year in getting inexpensive systems set up to automate things like appointment scheduling, phone responses, email responses and accounting functions, you’ll be amazed at how much more mental space you have to work on big-picture activities, like strategy.

Take time to find great contractors.

One of the top questions I’ve gotten from readers of my book at live events is how to find reliable freelancers and contractors. Many people have been burned by hiring someone irresponsible or who doesn’t really know how to do the work—and give up on the idea of bringing in help at all.

Big mistakes. Entrepreneurs in million-dollar, one-person businesses generally put in the time to find great people to help them—and are willing to look for talent in conventional places. Dan Faggella, who ran Science of Skill, a martial arts hub, and later sold it for more than $1 million, found one of his contractors, who handled his copywriting and other tasks, in a martial arts class he taught. Riley Lyon, whom I recently interviewed for Crain’s New York Business, built an commerce store in Brooklyn, N.Y., called Ditec Solutions that grossed $3.5 million last year selling 3D printing pens and coolers for outdoorsmen, tapping freelance help from a site called hiremymom.com.

As these entrepreneurs realized, it might take some time to find the right people, but once they did, it would be much easier to scale revenue in their businesses. And that’s exactly what they did.

By patiently finding the support systems they needed to grow, they expanded what it’s possible to achieve in a one-person business. I’m confident that whatever unique personality you have, you can do the same if you follow their lead.

Author Bio

Elaine Pofeldt is an independent journalist who specializes in small business, entrepreneurship and careers. Her work has appeared in FORTUNEMoneyCNBCInc., Forbes, Crain’s New York Business and many other business publications and she is a contributor to the Economist Intelligence Unit. She is the author of The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business, a look at how entrepreneurs are hitting seven-figure revenue in businesses where they are the only employees, tapping automation and other technology to scale their efforts (Random House, 2018).

As a senior editor at FORTUNE Small Business, where she worked for eight years, Elaine was twice nominated for the National Magazine Award for her features and ran the magazine’s annual business plan completion. During her time at FSB, she ran the magazine’s website, fsb.com, for four years, building its traffic from two to five million page views a month.