Teaching Ali Abdaal how to build a $5M business

Good morning! This is The Zero to One. Equipping you with the best tools, resources, and actionable tactics to take your startup to the moon. Or some other quirky intro

Here’s what’s in store for you today:

  • ICYMI: $12B enabling the future of global work.

  • 5-step framework to build a $5M business.

  • Videos and articles to take your business to the moon.

  • Opportunities for you and your business to take advantage of.

  • Top tools for your business.

  • Cool jobs currently open in the startup world.


Last week I took a deeper look into Deel. The $12B remote giant, enabling over 25k companies, including Nike and Shopify, to scale their global operations and hiring.

In just 5 years, Deel grew from 0 to $500M ARR and over 3,000 employees - becoming profitable along the way in 2022.

Click below to see how Deel has scaled to process over $10B in payments in over 150 countries, and how you can replicate their growth.

Framework to make $5M with your business

I came across this really awesome video this week, where Matt Gray records a live session of him giving practical advice to one of my favorite YouTubers, Ali Abdaal, on how he can reach $5M in annual revenue.

This video was awesome and super practical. Here’s what I learned from it.

5-step framework to build a $5M business 🎯

Now before I get into this, I do just want to caveat this by saying that Ali has a massive foundation to build his business from. But these core principles still apply to building a business, no matter your following.

1. Define the promise of your product 🔐

You need to define a clear destination you are trying to take your customers to.

If you don’t, you won’t be able to figure out your client's journey.

Without having this defined promise, you won’t be able to convert any leads as the “why” won’t be clear to them.

You want your promise to be specific.

What will you help your customers achieve and in what timeframe?

For a practical example: “I will help you generate an extra $100,000 in monthly revenue over the next 12 months.”

2. Map out your client’s journey 🗺️

To do this, you first need to understand the tactics and tools you will use to deliver on your promise - i.e. your core offerings.

Practically, this could be something like strategy sessions if your business is a growth agency, or a morning journal template if you sell a mindfulness training or course.

They will look different for every business - but once you’ve done this, you should then move on to this next three-step process to refine the effectiveness of your client’s journey map.

a. Determine your ideal customer profile

Use data from your audience to figure out who your best client is and use this to refine your marketing, sales, and fulfillment efforts.

b. Create a client journey map

Make sure it’s simple and easy for your team and clients to understand.

You can use this map to onboard new clients and sell people on your product.

c. Implement systems across your business

Sales, marketing, copywriting, emails, payments, and automations. This will pave a smooth path for your client’s journey.

Although your client journey map will look different depending on your business - it needs to focus on customer interaction at these six key phases:

  1. Purchase

  2. Onboarding

  3. Adoption

  4. Retention

  5. Expansion

  6. Referral

Across these three steps think about a strategic framework behind your product or service - what is it people are coming to your business for? Is it growth? Is it conversion rate? Is it cost-saving? Think about why your customers will come to you specifically.

3. Develop the actual product ⚒️

The best marketing is an amazing product. An irresistible product can save time and money on marketing, especially later down the line.

Developing the product also, importantly, includes pricing the product.

Pricing is a huge problem that a lot of founders face. They often price too low (I’ve been guilty of this too - it’s hard to not undercut yourself).

The problem is that it’s hard to build an effective sales team with pricing that’s too low. You want top-notch salespeople - and so you need to incentivize them properly - 10% of $1,000 is not enough to achieve this.

Pricing too low also often attracts harder-to-please clients. While also leading to more clients needed to make equivalent revenues, meaning more customers to keep happy and deliver on your promise.

Higher pricing also generally leads to customers who can get more value from your product or service and thus become happier customers.

Don’t undervalue your offering. Talking about this, let’s move on to step 4.

4. Remove all bottlenecks 🍾

A bottleneck is anything that slows down your day-to-day production.

Common bottlenecks include things like:

  • Unaligned teams

  • Outdated workflows

  • Operations processes, and

  • Your mindset

That last one is often the most limiting bottleneck of them all. Your mindset can be the lid on your success.

And while it might be uncomfortable to confront this. It’s something you need to address to meet your goals.

You also want to work on things that are a whole body yes. Try to align your business with the things you love to do and with your personal values.

5. Say no to all distractions 📺

This may sound obvious. But it is a massive trap that is easy to fall into.

And it’s one I’ve fallen for many a time.

Don’t jump from idea to idea. Once you have an idea you believe in - go for it.

Saying no is much harder than saying yes. But it’s also much more important.

So say no to everything else and go all in!

Videos or articles to help your startup go from Zero to One 📽️

  • Attract and hire undiscovered talent (link)

  • A step-by-step guide to go from 0 to $5M profitably (link)

  • How the best companies raise money (link)

  • Questions to prepare before an investor meeting (link)

Founder Opportunities 🛎️

  • 45 angels (all Notion current or ex-team members) are looking to invest in interesting opportunities (link)

  • Trenton Hughes is looking to connect cool projects and founders with investors (link)

  • Darrel Frater is looking to make $500k investments into pre-seed or seed companies (link)

  • Nate O’Brien is looking to invest $50k - $100k checks in Q2 (link)

  • Neo Accelerator: Maximize your productivity and build lasting relationships. Live and work with other founders and mentors for the first month of their intensive 3-month program. Formal applications are closed for this cohort, but they encourage you to apply and will reach out if they’d like more info. (link)

Tools of the week 🔨

  • Ahrefs: Everything you need to rank higher & get more traffic.

  • Kernel: Creates names that are memorable and meaningful.

  • Chatsimple: Convert visitors to customers with this AI chatbot.

  • Commanbar: AI-powered user assistance. Helping

    product, marketing, and customer teams unleash their users.

Cool startup jobs I found this week 🕵️

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