At 26, Ross Johnson runs two highly profitable businesses, generating 7 figures in revenue each. He built both from scratch — with no network, no outside funding, and no paid advertising.
But only 2 years ago, he had 28 dollars to his name, thousands in debt, and a business that failed before it could get any traction.
Looking back on his early struggles, Ross reflects, “I had a very specific idea about the kind of business I wanted to build. You know how people who are good at something often say, ‘I could charge people for that’? That was me. I really wanted to make a living as an online fitness coach… “
Struggling to Make It as an Online Fitness Coach
Ross had a deep understanding, and an enduring passion, for fitness. Building a business around his expertise seemed logical. He was a certified fitness coach and he loved helping people become healthy and fit — why wouldn’t his idea work?
But when he tried to attract clients for his coaching business, Ross discovered that he couldn’t land a single one. He knew nothing about business, marketing, or sales. And his coaching skills were irrelevant because nobody wanted to pay for his services.
Ross’ business failed, leaving him with no money and a massive debt to pay off. He realized: the only way to succeed as an online fitness coach was to master sales and marketing — the two skills Ross’ qualifications never taught him.
He pressed pause on his coaching business and immersed himself into the world of online business and marketing.
Stumbling on a 7-Figure Side Hustle
To learn as much as possible about growing a business, Ross experimented with as many marketing channels as he could. He dove headfirst into social media marketing, creating Instagram accounts and field-testing different growth strategies.
He expanded and refined his understanding of Instagram over several months. Eventually, Ross became very good at attracting audiences, building communities, writing engaging content, and getting traction — on demand.
Ross shared his progress publicly, and people took notice. Job offers came flooding in his inbox, asking Ross for Instagram marketing services. Ross realized that he could build a profitable business around his newfound expertise. And so he created a social media marketing agency, with his partner Rachel as co-founder.
Ross’ new agency, Trill Media, skyrocketed from zero to 6 figures in just 7 months. After a year and a half, it cleared 7 figures in revenue. Instead of chasing vanity metrics like most Instagram agencies, Ross focused on attracting a high-quality audience for his clients. His marketing strategies were structured from the ground up not just to increase follower counts, but to create authority and attract high-quality leads.
This helped Ross understand every mistake he’d made before with his fitness coaching practice. Not just what he did wrong, but how he could avoid the same missteps in the future. And it naturally led to the next million-dollar idea.
How Ross Leveraged His Expertise Into a Mentorship Program for Coaches
Trill Media’s success put Ross in the spotlight of other service providers. Coaches approached him and asked for advice on growing their businesses — the same way Ross grew his agency.
Ross realized that he had something remarkable on his hands: a proven process for taking a service-based business from nothing to 6 figures (and beyond) with social media.
But would it work for a coach?
As a test, Ross decided to help a few coaches who reached out to him. Because he was his own target audience, Ross had first-hand experience of the challenges that other coaches faced. And he could teach them his proven method for building an audience, generating leads, and selling their services.
The formula worked spectacularly well. Ross realized very quickly that the demand for his one-on-one coaching far outpaced his availability. He wanted to help online coaches build profitable businesses — but he had to do it at scale, or not at all.
Ross turned his one-on-one business coaching method into a 90-day program to guide coaches through starting and growing their online business the right way. The kind of program that Ross wished he’d had 2 years ago — designed for coaches who are experts in their field but don’t have much experience with business and marketing. To that end, he and Rachel co-founded another company — Online Coach Accelerator.
Since launching, Online Coach Accelerator has already surpassed Trill Media — both in terms of revenue and the number of clients. But the main reason Ross is so enthusiastic about it has nothing to do with money.
“The Accelerator is changing the lives of hundreds of coaches,” he says. “And in turn, they’re changing their client’s lives. It’s a ripple effect that’s so much bigger than me, my partner, or our company. Just knowing that I’m helping to make this happen makes me very happy! I couldn’t be prouder of the impact it’s having on the world.”