10 Year Plan for Authentic Business

Creating true freedom by fulfilling your calling.

Read the current version of this blog post here:

If you would love a business that expresses your soul, that feels like you’re fulfilling your calling or work mission, then consider this plan. It’s the same plan I’m following to build my authentic business.

  • By year 2: Part-time income, doing your authentic service.
  • By year 4: Full-time income, with 1–1 and group offerings.
  • By year 10: Full & meaningful recurring income, allowing for semi-retirement, while being one of the best in your field.

Also, it doesn’t have to take 10 years. You might be able to speed everything up, maybe as much as 4x, taking you only 2.5 years to reach semi-retirement, 1 year to reach full-time income, and half-year to reach part-time income. It is up to your quantity and quality of focus, and your speed of implementation.

10 years, however, allows a spacious and realistic way for most people to realize this dream. You can do this even if you currently have a full-time income, or are busy caring for young children or aging parents.

Year 1: Authentic Content Marketing

To begin, focus your efforts on building an audience of kindred spirits, people who naturally love your authentic content and style.

  • Share your passions, your learnings, explore your “voice” through a blog, video channel, or podcast, i.e. create content.
  • Find a rhythm that works for you to do consistent content. Carve out a schedule of content-creation that doesn’t interfere with you being fully present with your other responsibilities in work or life.
  • Allow yourself to be authentic in your content, not trying to copy anyone, but doing it in a style that feels true to you. This is how your true fans will find you.
  • Notice what you post that is especially interesting for your audience, and try to create more content like that.
  • For a comprehensive plan, read my book Authentic Content Marketing or take my online course on the same subject.
  • To build an audience much faster, learn how to use Facebook Ads to spread your content to people who would likely love your message and style. You might be interested in my course on Authentic Facebook Marketing.

Year 2: One-to-One Services

While continuing your rhythm of authentic content marketing, now also make yourself available to your audience for 1–1 services, such as coaching, counseling, consulting, healing, mentoring, or being a freelancer.

Providing services is the quickest way to start creating a meaningful income.


  • Make it easier for clients to schedule or re-schedule with you by using software such as AcuityScheduling. This also allows you to automate reminder emails (or text messages) to them.
  • Start collecting client case studies. Having the mindset of creating real transformation, or concrete results, for clients will speed up your learning and get you more referrals.

Additional Reading:

Year 3: Group Program (maybe also a Book)

By this point, you’ll have created at least a part-time income, which means you may be able to quit your job, or switch to a part-time position, or if you’re a caretaker, you can now hire some help for your children or aging parents, and allow you to spend more time on your business.

In this year, create a group offering based on your 1–1 services. For example, instead of 1–1 coaching, you can offer a group coaching program: a group call every week with a limited number of clients, along with an ongoing private Facebook group for them to support each other and for you to answer questions.

To see an example of how I structure this: my group coaching program and orientation page.

A group program is great for your 1–1 clients who enjoy your work but are ready to move onto a lesser investment way of working with you. It’s also great for your audience members who aren’t yet ready for your 1–1 work.

Once your group program is formed, you might want to reduce your 1–1 client load, so that you have more time for the group program.

At this point, you’ve created lots of content, so you might also want to put together your first book. This is how I’ve been able to — within the past 12 months — write two books (Authentic Content Marketing and Joyful Productivity).

I simply organized my best posts — that I’ve already written — into themes, which are the books.

Now that you’ve been engaging with your fans for a few years, notice who shares your content forward and who signs up for your services and programs. You are starting to understand who your true fans are.

Going forward, focus on making your content and offerings for your true fans, and more of them will find you.

Year 4: Online Courses

During this year, get up and running with your own online courses, which will be the foundation of your semi-retirement.

For years, you’ve learned deeply and widely in your field — by creating content, doing 1–1 services, and offering group programs. You have case studies that demonstrate that your modality / process / framework indeed works for your ideal clients.

Now, put your knowledge and case studies into online courses so that you can scale the reach of your business, helping more people and creating more income and schedule flexibility for you.

You’ll now have several streams of income:

  • 1–1 services
  • Group programs
  • Online courses
  • Maybe also books

Year 5: Scaling with Ads & Automation

To some people this is where it “really” becomes a business.

Now that you have online courses (and maybe books), you can use Facebook Ads and Google Adwords to reach thousands (or millions) of additional ideal audience members.

I myself am in “year 5” right now. Though I’ve been in business since 2009, and full-time income since 2010, I decided to “start over” in 2014 with a much more authentic business model. I’m glad I did.

This 10-year plan has been forming in my mind since then, and now I see that I myself am taking the “year 5” action of scaling with ads and automation.

Currently, for every $100 I spend in Facebook Ads, I receive $200–400 of online course revenue, which means my return on investment is 100–300%. Far better than the stock market, and deeply meaningful: people are directly benefitting from my knowledge and work.

I’m working on creating a replicable, reliable process of investing money in one’s own paid ads, to receive an excellent financial return on one’s own courses, so that it could truly be the best financial investment one could make. It’s not only “making lots of money” but making truly good money — which arises from a deep sense of service to one’s ideal audience, having the income emerge from a direct connection to one’s meaningful work.

Year 6: Training Mentees

By this point, with hundreds (or thousands) of people taking your online courses, you’ll start getting a lot more requests for 1–1 services and your group program, than you have time for.

This is where it’s important to have mentees to take over some (or all) of your 1–1 services, and to help you facilitate your group programs.

Since you’ve now been serving clients 1–1 and in groups for years, you’ve had perhaps hundreds of clients by this point. Make a list of your most ideal clients. Find out which of those clients might be interested in doing the kind of work you’ve been doing.

Start a mentoring program with those individuals as your first mentees. You might even want to offer a certificate / certification by the end of it.

Refer your waiting list of 1–1 clients or group program members to your new mentees. True mentoring is where the mentee is doing the actual work, with consultations with you to learn from challenging client situations, and to keep improving their service.

Year 7: Hiring Your Assistant

By this point you have:

  • Group program
  • Online courses with hundreds (or thousands) of students
  • Mentoring program
  • Perhaps still some 1–1 clients
  • Perhaps some books

With more than enough income at this point to meet your needs, it’s time to focus on hiring and training an assistant to take over the administrative tasks, so that you can be freed up to do more of your highest-level work, making the best use of your time for your calling.

(You may already have hired by this point, but this year’s focus is to create a working relationship with your assistant or team that really allows you freedom from the admin tasks.)

One of the best places to recruit a great assistant is your own audience of true fans. They know your work, and they love your style. There are undoubtedly some in your audience who would love to work for you.

Year 8: Larger Joint Ventures

Now that you have a sizeable audience from all your efforts of consistent content over the years, and the scaling of your courses with ads, you can now collaborate with the bigger players in your industry.

The cross-pollination will further grow the creativity of your business, and scale your reach to more ideal audiences than only ads can reach.

If you have any questions about this, let me know, as I’ve already been doing JV’s (joint ventures) for years.

Year 9: Systems Documentation

You’re getting ready for the freedom of semi-retirement.

This is the year to focus on making sure that everything done by your assistant(s) is documented in an organized and easy-to-consume way.

Your assistant(s) can create the training videos, written guides, and FAQ’s, so that if they need to move onto other jobs, a new assistant can get up and running quickly, thanks to the step-by-step documentation.

Year 10: Kaizen Forever

Congratulations — you have reached the freedom of semi-retirement!

Why do I say “semi” instead of “full” retirement?

I believe, as Gandhi said, that the dream of “wealth without work” is one of the great ills of society. I don’t believe that full passive income has integrity. There are still so many people struggling, that your business can continually innovate and help more effectively.

Plus, it’s much better for your physical and mental well-being to keep working, in the spirit of true service to your clients, customers, mentees, and your calling.

Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “continuous improvement”.

I call it Kaizen Forever because your business can always be improved in its effectiveness of serving its customers, and always deepening the fulfillment of your mission.

If you have questions about any of the above, feel free to ask me. You can highlight any word or phrase above and add a comment.
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