Tired of Entrepreneurs Talking About 6- and 7-figures?

6- and 7-figure launches, years, and entrepreneurs have been getting a lot of flack lately. And if I’m honest, I’ve joined in on poo-poo’ing too. It’s extremely popular these days to shame entrepreneurs who share their revenue stories to get new clients.

It feels like cheap marketing. Make more money by teaching other people to make money. I hear you. I have some very personal reasons I agree with you.

In my first business, I reached 6-figures in revenue pretty quickly, even being 18-years-old and completely naive. I was a portrait and wedding photographer. At my peak, I photographed 90 high school seniors and 30 weddings in one year. My pricing strategy was: Get too busy? Raise my prices. Too busy again? Raise the prices again. And repeat.

So, money was flowing in.

… And flowing out. I had expensive software to manage all of my clients. I traveled to second-shoot gorgeous expensive weddings in Chicago and Detroit (for the “experience,” but not a big paycheck.) A photographer mentor of mine only wore Citizens for Humanity designer jeans, so I spent $400 at Nordstrom one weekend. I bought lenses, backdrops, props, and marketing materials rabidly.

Making money was easy for me.

And, so was spending it.

So that 120K in revenue? It amounted to less than 20K in income on my taxes. At the time, I was also paying for my college tuition, apartment, expensive jeans, and food all on my own. (You know, adult stuff.) So after a few years of lots of money coming in and even more money going out, it amounted to some nasty credit card debt and student loans.

That is the reality of business. Revenue doesn’t equal profit.

History echoed that lesson again for me more recently. I worked with an entrepreneur who brags about the 7-figures they made in a short amount of time. I got another first-hand experience of the reality of revenue vs profit through them. I’m still working on getting paid for the work I did. And it was a LOT of work. I’m downplaying the emotional and financial impact of that whole experience for this particular article, but know this: I have bitched many o’ times about how inauthentic it is that this particular entrepreneur uses their revenue as a sales tactic or a “proof point” of how good they are at business.

Again, revenue doesn’t equal profit.

And “promised” money isn’t the same as money in the bank. Contracts and payment plans can and do fall apart.

So, when I see people sportin’ their 6 or 7-figure status like a medal, I have as much reason as anyone to roll my eyes and throw some shade their way.

It’s the worst kind of medal. It’s a “badge of honor” that might not mean anything. At least, it probably doesn’t mean what we think it does. It might mean that the person is scraping by on less than minimum wage. It might mean that they aren’t paying the people that helped them build their business to that level.

But let’s flip the script.

I want you to KEEP sharing those 6 and 7-figure stories. Here are four reasons why

  1. Revenue generation and money management are two completely different skills sets. Having one but not the other doesn’t completely negate the fact that you have the ability to sell and generate loads of money. Yes, ideally, I’d love to learn from someone who has the ability to both MAKE money and to KEEP it, but there is still a lot to learn about sales, lead generation, and conversions from someone who knows how to do it.
  2. Revenue is a metric. It’s up to you to place the context around it. As most people who have money will tell you, it’s not a direct measurement of success. It’s definitely not a measure of happiness. It is, however, an important business metric. We’re in business to make money, and you need revenue to get to profit.
  3. You are not responsible for other people’s money stories. Other people may be triggered or feel “less than” because their revenues don’t match up. But it’s not your responsibility to manage people’s reactions to your work and your messages. If sharing your numbers helps you attract more of the right clients that you can positively impact, more power to you.
  4. It shows us what is possible. If not for awesome online entrepreneurs like Pat Flynn, Melyssa Griffin and others who have openly shared their revenue numbers, I would have no idea that generating 30K, 60K, or 100K each and every month through an online business was even in the realm of possibility. Thanks to them, I can wrap my head around the type of platform, business structure, products, and marketing I would need to have to make those numbers happen for myself. (Or not, depending on what my goals are.)

So share those money stories.

Brag about your 100K launch. Do it with confidence and do it with integrity. I’m not ashamed to raise my hand and say, “Yes – teach me how to do that.”

But you can be sure I’ll be keeping your costs and time invested in mind while I listen.

So, which side do you stand on? Do you think people should use their revenue numbers as a marketing hook? Or do you think it’s wrong or sleazy?