Building a Back-End Business

Building a Back-End Business

I’m a fellow member of NSA and I have experienced firsthand the power of building a better back-end business model.

Imagine you’re me, five years ago. You’re a 30-something “up-and-coming” speaker and trainer. You’ve been semi-successful at landing paid engagements for a few years now. But your revenues look like a roller coaster, some months look great, and some have big fat goose-eggs in the top line. The lack of financial stability means you can’t commit to investing in ongoing support, so you’re doing everything yourself. You don’t sleep enough, don’t eat right, and don’t work out. All you do is work, work, work—on an ever-spinning hamster wheel to constantly generate new business, and then deliver it. All. The. Time. To top it off, the anxiety, stress, and uncertainty are making you sick.

You attend speaking conferences and conclude your “problem” is you’re not a good enough storyteller, you’re also not funny enough, not niche enough, not expensive enough, don’t have a good enough website or speaker video, bureaus don’t know you and agents want nothing to do with you, and, of course, you need a book. You invest heavily in speaker improvement programs and take advice like: “For goodness sakes, girl, never, ever. Speak. For. Free.”

Then you meet a mentor who teaches you another way. He teaches you about “leverage,” and what he calls “The Holy Grail of Business” (cue angels singing …): Monthly Recurring Revenues! And you think, WOW! I must’ve missed that in business school, but it makes sense.

In three days, you whip up a new business model. A model where speaking is just the appetizer and the real meat and potatoes are the group retreats and group coaching that you sell (without cheesy sales pitches from the stage) on the back end.

Within 90 days of implementing, you’ve generated more sales than you had in the preceding 12 months. Within 14 months, you’ve nearly quadrupled revenues and hired a full-time awesome assistant (whoop, whoop!). Within two years, you’ve joined the ranks of the top 1 percent of speakers.

No book. No agent. No bureau. No awesome website. Just a new model.

That’s my story, and that’s when my interest in business models began.

This type of model makes sense if you do the math. Here’s how I looked at it.

If you want to earn $1,000,000, you could:

  • Give 10 speeches at $100,000 each—you’re speaking about once a month and making bank. If this is you, stop reading this article immediately and work on your next New York Times Bestseller!
  • Give 50 speeches or training session at $20,000 each. That’s 4.2 engagements a month.
  • Deliver 100 speeches at $10,000. That’s 8.3 speeches per month that you have to source, negotiate, close, and deliver. Every. Single. Month.Or you could build a million-dollar-plus back-end business model that looks something like this:
  • Host four small event/group coaching retreats a year with 20 people each paying $2,500 each. That’s $200,000. Plus, aim for converting 25 percent of attendees into a $1,500/month program for another $360,000. Add to that, 12 keynotes a year at $15,000 each for a total of $180,000, plus four consulting deals for training at $100,000 each for another $400,000. Welcome to the million-dollar club!
Michelle Villalobos

Michelle Villalobos

Superstar Activator at Superstar Activator
Michelle Villalobos, “The Superstar Activator,” helps speakers, coaches, authors, and entrepreneurs build sustainable, scalable, purpose-driven speaking, event, and education-based enterprises that give them a fabulous, fulfilling life WHILE contributing to others and making the world a better place. To learn more, visit
Michelle Villalobos
Michelle Villalobos
Michelle Villalobos

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