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One topic area that is capturing my client’s interest is that of platform- platform being the broad term to denote how well known and well regarded you are in your particular field. Platform is important for people who want to create more impact, reach more people, and sell more books.

The challenge, though, is that platform-building is not right for everyone at every stage of business. Yet there seems to be a pervasive feeling that we need to build large platforms, even if we’re not sure what we are trying to say.

You see this happen often when new business owners, rather than focusing on stabilizing their cash flow, invest heavily in visibility endeavors- multi-speaker telesummits, hosting their live events, and so on, before they have a profitability plan in place. They end up spending a lot of money they don’t have to make money that never comes.

In my book, Internet Marketing for The Rest of Us: Your In-Depth Guide to Profitable Popularity, I talk about a Hierarchy of Business Needs. That Hierarchy gives a framework for how businesses can create a profitability plan that does include platform.

If you look at the Hierarchy here

Jain's Hierarchy of Business Needs

You’ll see that the first level is focused on financial sustainability. The goal at this level is to generate enough money to live and fund your lifestyle. Once that level is attained and is consistent, then you want to create a financial cushion; some kind of financial reserve. Once this is met (usually 6-12 months of living expenses, or more), you can begin the process of building your relationships and your community- growing your popularity. As your popularity grows, and your business remains in positive cash flow, you will then have the experience, skills, and perspective to begin building your platform.

At the platform level, you start to grow your visibility and expertise. It represents a shift into larger scale marketing- where, perhaps, you start to reach more people through the vehicle of a book you’ve written, a regular podcast, or an online TV show. Building platform after popularity and popularity after reserve makes sure that you’re keeping the focus on what’s vital to your business’ health and growth.

After you have built a platform, you can look towards leaving a larger legacy- this might be in the form of philanthropy, mentoring, or otherwise giving back.

By building your business in this order, you make sure that you have a solid and stable base upon which your platform can rest. If you do it correctly the first time, you will save yourself a lot of stress, a lot of strain, and you won’t find yourself starting over again and again.