$689.25

That’s the amount of money I made from my business in January of 2015. This is money after expenses and overhead, but still…that’s barely enough money to cover rent in most major cities in the USA.

Flash-forward one year, to February of 2016. My company just cleared $30,000, and the trend seems to be increasing.

I don’t say this to brag. There are many more successful business people throughout the world who make a lot more money than I do.

I share this story to highlight the difference between then and now; between where I was and where I desperately wanted to be — from struggling to survive to now leading a thriving, growing company.

This transformation was not by any accident, luck, or chance. This transformation was a result of intentional effort put forth in five key areas of business and personal development, which have since changed my entire life.

I want to share them with you now, so they can do the same for you.

Enter the Five Pillars of Authority

Reflecting on the past year, it’s become clear to me that the brightest, most successful business people in the world excel in five foundational areas of business. I call these the “the Five Pillars of Authority.”

To be clear, each one is a prerequisite to achieve the results you desire; you cannot succeed (for long) without mastering each one. I want to introduce you to each pillar, and explain how to apply it to your business.

Pillar 1: Mindset

You wouldn’t build a house without preparing the foundation first, would you?

Of course not.

Similarly, you wouldn’t set out to build a profitable business without having a stable base to launch from. The FOUNDation for any business is the mindset of the FOUNDer (founder / foundation – get it?).

Like a house built on sand, a business led by a confused, uncertain, and weak founder will crumble.

However, like a house built from concrete and steel, a founder with the right mindset can withstand the most difficult storms (and in business, there will be storms – trust me).

Before you do anything, you need to master your mindset. This involves:

  • Overcoming your limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviors
  • Having a strong, clear goal
  • Outlining what you’re going to do, why, and when (and holding yourself accountable to making progress each day)
  • Having a daily ritual that empowers your working day
  • Keeping your whole person (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) healthy and in balance
  • Consistently investing in your education, whether through books, courses, coaches, and mentors, or by joining an empowering mastermind with people you respect

Having the right mindset is critical for the success of any freelancer, entrepreneur, or business owner. But it’s not enough. You then need to take action.

Pillar 2: Content

Bob Ross is one of the most celebrated, respected, and beloved painters of all time. Bring his name up in conversation, and anyone who has watched him paint “happy little trees” will smile ear-to-ear.

There’s good reason for Ross’ cult-like following: For more than 10 years, Ross gave away all his knowledge about painting, teaching everything he knew for free on PBS.

Oh, and did I mention that this soft-spoken, hippy painter built a $15,000,000 business on the back of his free training?

This is what I mean when I say content. Bob was a great painter, but so what? There are tens of thousands of great painters. You won’t hear about 99% of them. What made Bob stand out from the crowd was that he created great content prolifically – and he gave it all away for free.

Content doesn’t have to come in the form of a weekly television show. Content can take the shape of:

  • A blog where you consistently share your best “lessons learned”
  • A book that shows you systems, processes, and thought process
  • A YouTube channel where you share your best tactics and strategies
  • A daily podcast where you share insight, wisdom, and direction with those who are seeking help

There are more ways than ever to cheaply and effectively share your knowledge with the world, and the greatest authorities do just that.

But having great content isn’t enough. A great piece of writing that doesn’t leave your hard drive is as useful as no content.

This brings us to…

Pillar 3: Distribution

Reid Hoffman is a venture capitalist, previously the executive vice president of Paypal, and the founder of LinkedIn (and also a billionaire).

When asked by TechCrunch how to reach a massive audience, Reid offered these words of wisdom:

“In real estate, the wisdom says ‘location, location, location.’ In consumer Internet, think ‘distribution, distribution, distribution.’ Thousands of products launched every month on hundreds of thousands of new Web pages…Every Net entrepreneur should answer these questions: How do we get to one million users? Then how do we get to 10 million users? Then how will you get deep engagement by your users.”

Okay, so let’s assume you’re not building the next LinkedIn or Uber or Facebook. A million users may not be your first milestone, and that’s okay (and totally reasonable). But the fundamental question should remain the same: How will you reach your first 100 users/readers/paid members/customers/clients?

When you can answer this question clearly, you’ve started to define your distribution strategy. To develop your position as an authority through distribution, you must have:

  1. A cost-effective way to attract visitors to your website
  2. An automated solution for turning visitors into users, fans, and ultimately customers
  3. An eCommerce solution to sell your product or service ( one that aligns with how your customers want to pay for goods or services)
  4. Systems and processes to make selling 1,000 items as easy as selling one item

All of these elements are key to creating awareness and consumption of your content so that you can create a thriving business. But that only happens if you can turn customers into repeat customers and raving fans.

To do that, we move to pillar 4:

Pillar 4: Platform

Ever heard of “Freaks and Geeks”?

Many critics regard it as one of the greatest television shows of all time. But after its first season, it got canceled.

Why?

Because it was aired at an ungodly hour, so it received low ratings and the network canceled it. It was never able to get the audience it deserved.

Bottom line: You can have the greatest content in the world, but if not enough people spread the word, it doesn’t matter.

To become an authority, then, you need:

  • An area to share your best content
  • A space to engage and connect with your fans
  • A place from which to catalyze their support (so that your best content doesn’t get canceled after one season)

What I’m talking about is called a platform. Every authority has a platform where they share their great work, a place for their biggest fans to interact with one another, and a space from which to instigate the support of their biggest fans (when the time comes).

A platform can take the form of:

  • A compelling email newsletter
  • An active and engaged Facebook group
  • An online forum or offline meet-up group
  • A website with an exclusive members area

Whatever the format, the bottom line is that a platform allows you to build and then catalyze your thousand true fans, who will then support every piece of great content you have (from sharing blog posts, to downloading and reviewing your podcast, to purchasing every product you create).

A platform is where you begin to set yourself apart from your competitors. But even the most enthusiastic fans can’t help your cause if you aren’t presenting, packaging, and selling your products or services the right way.

That brings us to…

Pillar 5: Positioning

Why is it that people happily pay $2,000 for an iMac when they could get a PC with equivalent specs for almost half the cost?

Does the iMac cost twice as much to produce?

  • Nope – if anything, Apple can produce the iMac for less than its competitors.

Are the components unique?

  • Not really – the internal parts are all produced by the same manufacturers.

Does it do something completely different than the competitor?

  • No, PCs and Macs basically do the same tasks.

So what is it?

If you’re an Apple fan, you know the answer: It’s the experience.

From packaging to design to presentation, Apple knows how to create, market, and sell products.
And all of these elements taken together are positioning.

Here’s the thing: Positioning is not solely for massive corporations. It’s equally (if not more) important for entrepreneurs, freelancers, startup founders, and aspiring small business owners.

With the right positioning, you can:

  • Become the person everyone wants to do business
  • Charge premium rates as an independent contractor
  • Choose whom you do business with, when, and how
  • Get featured in major mainstream media
  • And more

It’s tough to achieve this enviable level. But it is possible.

The opportunity of a lifetime

Mastering each pillar ordinarily takes years of trial-and-error experience.

Fortunately, there’s a way you can shave years off your learning curve, and that’s by learning from the wisdom of people who have been in your shoes and who have become successful authorities.

On March 22, Josh Denning and I (Tom Morkes) are co-hosting a 3-day, live, virtual, Guinness world record-breaking extravaganza called the Authority Super Summit. We’ve brought together more than 100 of the world’s leading experts in business to teach you how to become a sought-after authority in your niche so you never need to beg people to buy from you again.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  1. How the most successful entrepreneurs begin their day (and how you can, too)
  2. How to build a platform that gets you noticed
  3. How to build a tribe of loyal followers who support everything you do
  4. How to sell yourself in an authentic way (without resorting to sleazy marketing tactics)
  5. How to connect and network with six-figure entrepreneurs (even if you’re a shy introvert)
  6. The one pricing strategy that will double your income
  7. How to position yourself as an authority in your niche when you’re just starting out

And that’s only Day 1.

If you’ve ever wanted to push yourself above and beyond your toughest competitors, reach a wider audience and achieve more happiness, more wealth, and more productivity, this is your opportunity: Click here to join the Authority Super Summit for free.

I look forward to you joining us to break a world record and make history together!

-Tom Morkes

This is a guest post by Tom Morkes. Tom is the CEO of Insurgent Publishing, a book publishing and marketing company that brings unconventional nonfiction to the creative outliers of the world. Insurgent Publishing has published a half dozen books, including Paid to Exist and The Money Freedom Roadmap, both by Jonathan Mead, The High-Performance Athlete by Dr. Jason Winkle, and The Growth Hacker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Jeff Goldenberg and Mark Hayes.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post from Tom and join us at the Authority Summit slated for later this month.