Have you been wanting to leave your job but lacked courage to actually do it?
Dr David Dugan was working in the Australian Navy and running multiple businesses on the side, but witnessing a natural disaster finally gave him the wake up call to leave his full-time job and become a business coach and mentor.
From having zero clients to mentoring hundreds, David made a series of decisions that led him to build a solid seven-figure coaching business. The following are some of his key decisions.
Since 2000, David Dugan had been mentoring the leaders of leaders as an executive coach in the Australian Navy, and he also operated multiple businesses on the side such as a dental practice and asset protection company. However, he wasn’t planning to leave his full-time job until he encountered a life-changing experience.
“I was operating in the Indian Ocean after the tsunami in 2014, and a helicopter I was supposed to be on crashed, killing nine people. I realised how short life was and that, as all of us, I’d been given gifts. I had a responsibility to my family, the planet, and myself - to share those gifts.”
After witnessing the disaster, David realised that he’d gone as far as he could in the military, and he wanted to grow and live out his purpose even more. Around that time, David met Roger Hamilton, a futurist and social entrepreneur.
“At the time I wasn’t sure whether I should try stock market trading, sell property or launch an online business… But instead of trying to follow many different ways to create wealth through other people’s journeys, Roger got me to focus on my strengths, which lay in my network and leadership. Just having an awareness of this helped me to simplify my options, leave the Navy and pursue something even more fulfilling.”
David combined two things he loved doing, coaching and business; and embarked on a career as a business coach. However, the start was rocky: his wife had just given birth to their first baby and stopped earning income, his house sucked out all of the family’s cash reserves through a major renovation, and David had to cover the ongoing monthly cost of $10,000 for his property portfolio. Just as a plane only takes off against a headwind, David used the pressure to succeed.
“I identified who I wanted as my ideal clients - small and medium-sized business owners with a very high commitment to growing their businesses. That was my niche. I created a mind map of all the industries and businesses that would have my potential clients as their clients such as accountants, lawyers, bookkeepers, PT instructors, and financial planners. I created that list, and one of the largest businesses on it was my bank, Westpac. I chatted with them, and I ended up doing 18 business events with their branches across Australia: from Cairns and Townsville to Gimpy, Gold Coast and Brisbane. That’s how I initially got clients and partners and that’s still the primary strategy for growing my business today.”
David reached his target of $10,000 within the first couple of months, and soon, through his one-on-one coaching, he made over $180,000 in his first year. However, he knew his business model wasn’t scalable as he could only take on so many people at any one time.
Joining Crystal Circle, a high-level mentoring group for entrepreneurs led by Roger, helped him move his business to the next level. Roger asked him the simple question: ‘What is truly important to you?’
“The question got me thinking, and I had a realisation that entrepreneurs are ordinary people doing extraordinary things - just like the people I served with in the navy. They shared the same spirit, skills, and mindset. Both groups were putting it all on the line and worked together to achieve the common goal. The only difference being those who served in the military had the huge support of the government whilst entrepreneurs had nothing. I wanted to be that support for entrepreneurs.”
With Roger’s guidance, David channeled his military experience and understanding of what it means to operate on the highest level into his coaching. He decided to offer support to the most innovative risk-takers, the entrepreneurial elite, by introducing group coaching, mentoring and events .
“I created the Elite500, a mastermind group combined with one-on-one coaching and live events for elite entrepreneurs. We invited all our clients on a journey to reach the four 500 milestones: $500 thousand in revenue, $500 thousand in profit, $500 thousand in a single product or promotion and $500 thousand to be donated to a worthy cause. We track our clients progress monthly with profit and loss balance sheet and a monthly mastermind meeting. We also have live immersion events three times a year and a one-on-one strategic planning session every quarter.”
By becoming clear on what he stood for and how he wanted to be seen, David began to attract a greater number of clients and quickly doubled his business. The success came from his clients.
“Group participants get better results than one-on-ones because they see everyone else’s journey, what does and doesn’t work, they’re getting an insight into the future and learning at a faster pace. They’re more accountable, have more impact, and create more income than one-on-one clients.”
As a solopreneur, David was experiencing great growth but over revved the ‘work’ engine before switching gears and growing his team.
“As with many startups, it was up to me to do everything in the business. In the early stages of business, it is a race for survival, and cash is your oxygen. Employing my first person felt like a big step at the time, and it also felt like it was going to be a cash drain. The opposite of that was the truth. One of my biggest mistakes was not bringing on more team members more quickly. Roger gave me the ‘not so gentle’ nudge that I needed to leverage my relationships again in growing my partnerships and most importantly my team.”
Initially, David worked with consultants on a project basis, which gave the business a significant step forward; it was also critical to bridging the gap to having full-time team members. Over the course of 18 months, David hired a full-time PA, Business Manager, second coach, and a part-time events producer and graphic designer. He is currently looking to hire a third coach and an administrative assistant. Establishing the right team helped David to get his time back and focus on the company’s growth and vision whilst achieving even better results for his clients. A testimony to his clients’ results is seeing his clients’ average year-on-year profit rise by 274% last calendar year.
“When we started Elite500, we’d have around 30 entrepreneurs coming to our events, and the number of clients was just under two dozen. Now, we have 170 entrepreneurs attending our events, and by the end of the year, we’ll have over 200 entrepreneurs in attendance. Our core product went exclusively from one-on-one sessions to the combination of group mentoring and one-on-one sessions.”
David is currently launching a Board of Directors programme that is designed for entrepreneurs who have matured in their businesses, need a higher level of mentoring, and are scaling their businesses. He has also increased his revenue tenfold with a year-on-year growth rate of over 35%. Such growth has put the business solidly in seven figures.
“With our current momentum, we are expecting our business to triple in the next two years, our team to increase by 50%, and we will introduce two more products which will be more leveraged and training oriented.”
In addition to his business goals, David has a clear sense of mission and purpose.
“Entrepreneurs are the backbone of every country in the world. They employ more people, take bigger risks, and are the innovators. United, this wave of entrepreneurs will create positive change for the planet. We know social entrepreneurship is a critical component and that’s why we introduced the fourth 500 milestone: inspiring entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the level where they donate $500,000 to worthy causes. We’re building a global community of likeminded entrepreneurs who are creating a world of abundance. They are building a legacy that will allow our children and future generations to grow and flourish.”
“What can you do today to bring more meaning and purpose to your life? What have you been wanting to start but haven’t yet found the time, courage, or motivation?
You can get the eBook "Fast Forward Entrepreneurs" featuring Dr David Dugan and 10 inspiring entrepreneur stories here https://goo.gl/zYFnE9