Do you feel like you never have enough time each workday to focus on growing and scaling your business because you are bogged down with too much support and administrative work? Would you rather be working on your business instead of in it?
OWEN: My guest today is Steven Essa and he’s the founder of X10 Effect. Steven, welcome to the show.
STEVEN: Great to be here Owen, thanks for having me on.
OWEN: Our main focus is to go out there and look for entrepreneurs who have been able to systematize their business so that it runs successfully without them. And we want to showcase how you’ve been able to do that. Before we even talk about step by step when you actually did to make that happen in your business what are some mind blowing results that you now experience as a result of going through that process of systematizing your business?
STEVEN: Absolutely Owen, in our business we do webinar. Whenever we now market a webinar, promoting a new product or service, or even an event that we’re running, all we do is send the information to our system and it’s all set-up for us. All we do is turn up and talk. I come from the music business originally and I heard a statement that says Elton John doesn’t move the pianos. He just turns up and performs, and that’s where we’ve gotten the business to now. With coaching programs we used to do all the selling, all the support, all of the admin, the bookkeeping, and everything else. And we’ve managed to automate a lot of the admin and support stuff for our programs which allows us to do what we do best, and that’s to just speak, to sell, and create new programs and stuff, that’s what we enjoy.
OWEN: Awesome. How will you say your company has been transformed as a result of systematizing the business?
STEVEN: I think for us it’s more freedom. We got into business because we want more freedom. We got into business because we want more freedom. It’s enabled us to double our income last year. I got married at the same time and my wife went on board. We hired a general manager just recently and we’re looking to leverage the little things. There’s a few little things leftover that we’re always looking to fine tune and automate. So we couldn’t take the business to the next level because we didn’t have the management techniques ourselves. So hiring a general manager has now enabled us to free us up more, to have more time, and make more money more importantly.
OWEN: How would you even say that you personal life has been transformed as a result of systematizing your business?
STEVEN: Absolutely mate, like I said more time. My wife and I love to travel. We go to Europe, I exercise more, watch TV more, travel more, do whatever you want. I’ve come from overseas so we get to travel whenever we want to, 3 to 4 months in Europe, in the Greek islands, visiting her family and friends, etc. It doesn’t matter where we are, things run without us. That was a dream and that’s basically where we wanted to go. We heard about but we never knew how to get there. Finally, thanks to persistence in the systems and procedures, and implementing that we’re finally on the right track.
OWEN: Since you’re talking about you guys being able to travel a lot, I’m just curious, since you now have systems in place in the business that allows it to run without, what will you say has been the longest time you’ve been away from the business? Hello?
STEVEN: Yeah, last year we’re in… Can you hear me okay?
OWEN: I think we’ve got disconnected for a few minutes. Let me repeat the question.
STEVEN: I heard what you said, absolutely. How long have we been away from the business that it runs without us. Last year we spent 3 months in Santorini, in the Greek islands. We go there every year. I still check on the billing side of things and have a few $50,000 clients that I work with, but I’m able to do that on Skype from anywhere in the world, and I can pick and choose which time sort of work. Working just couple of hours a day at most when we’re overseas. That’s basically what we do.
OWEN: That’s awesome. Now, we’ve shared some of the great results that you now experience as a result of having your business set-up so it runs without you, but I want to give the listeners some context as to what your business is all about and what you do. What exactly does your company do and what big pain do you solve for your customers?
STEVEN: I think what we do is we take the information, knowledge, and expertise that people have and we turn it into information, products, and services, and we teach them how to sell it. We do that through webinars to leverage and access customers from around the world. The great thing is once you’ve recorded the webinar or the sales pitch you can automate it. All you do then is drive traffic to it. And that’s what we teach people how to do. It’s really that entire process. Normally, businesses who are looking for more leverage, they’re doing 1 to 1 selling. They’re looking to grow, they want to get out of the business themselves, live, and have more time. They’re the kinds of people that we attract, expertise coaches, trainers, authors, speakers, people who want to leverage and then grown.
OWEN: That’s awesome. How many full-time employees you currently have? I’m just curious.
STEVEN: We currently have seven full-time employees and 3 to 4 outsources overseas.
OWEN: And is the company profitable? What was last year’s annual revenue, and what do you expect to generate this year, I’m just curious?
STEVEN: Absolutely. Last year’s annual revenue was 2.2 million, that’s what we brought in, the gross figure. With the new general manager we expect to grow 3 million this year at least. That’s the minimum amount we want to do with the new general manager, that’s the goal.
OWEN: Congratulations. We’ve given the listener what to expect and in terms of what you’ve actually achieved, having your business being set-up in way that it runs without you. But I want to take us back to the beginning of the story when, the point in the business where it was not systematized and automated like it is now, what exactly was wrong with it at that time?
STEVEN: You want to take me back to the pain?
OWEN: Yes, take us back to the pain.
STEVEN: Absolutely. It was a good pain. Basically, there was too many customers coming in and there was only me to service them. I was the business, I was doing the sales and converting them. I had an amazing funnel and an amazing product, and a big growth market. I was the only person speaking about webinars back when it started and I couldn’t keep up with the demand. I was offering 1-on-1 coaching, working 16 hours a day doing all of the admin, the receipts coming in, the bookkeeping, the tax stuff, the coaching calls, it was really exhausting. To be honest Owen I thought about how comfortable it’ll be to go back to a job sometimes. But the money was good and I’d never had that much money in my account. I was always broke before then, so it was great. Trying to market and get new opportunities, as well as managing affiliate programs, email auto responders, social media, all of that stuff. It was so overwhelming. I thought that I was stupid and that I was doing it wrong because people said, “Live the internet lifestyle. Have an internet business. Travel and do this and this.” But to me this was an internet nightmare because I had all these money coming in but no systems in place. At the end of the day I would be coaching people from the ground. I would be lying on the ground and saying I just couldn’t sit up anymore. I was just exhausted. There were days then when I just thought I’m never going to get this.
OWEN: You’ve just shared some of the issues at that time. But what will you say was one of the lowest point back then and describe how bad it got.
STEVEN: It was basically the 16-hour days. There’s only so long you can work 16 hours a day. I thought I must have been tricked. I went to a seminar and the guy said to me, “You can live the internet lifestyle. All you have to do is start an online business and that’s going to be automated.” There was no filling in the gaps. A friend of mine who was running an offline IT company, and I said to him, “John, I think I’m doing something wrong. I’m overworked, I’m doing this, I’m so busy…” He said to me the words that gave me peace and calm. He said, “Steve, that’s normal. You’re starting a business, it’s going to be crazy. It has to happen. That’s what happens with every business.” And then I relaxed a little bit because I failed school, I wasn’t academic. I thought maybe it’s because I’m not academic, I’m not smart, I’m doing something wrong and this is coming back now. I should’ve studied harder in school, maybe I’d be smarter and I’ll be running a better business. But he made me realize that every business has these issues and that it was normal. That made me feel comfortable.
OWEN: Yeah, I totally understand. When exactly was your breaking point? Do you remember when you realized that you needed to systematized and automate the entire business? What happened at that time?
STEVEN: Absolutely. It was just the build-up of the 16-hour days and the frustration. Because so many customers I could’ve been getting in, instead I was dealing with the back end. I was listening to Jay Abraham. He had an audio book called The Sticking Point Solution: 9 Ways to Move Your Business From Stagnation to Stunning Growth In Tough Economic Times. To learn in my spare time where I was weak. I would basically be listening to these things. I had no problems with the selling but that’s where it stopped for me. I was good at the speaking and selling but I wasn’t good at anything else. One of the exercises he has you do is write down your three major tasks in your business. In most businesses like it was in mine was the sales, the support, and the administration. Basically, if you’re listening to this right now, write this down, sales, support, administration. And under each task write down what’s the different things that you need to do. What’s the 10, 20, 30 things that is involved in getting a sale in your business, in doing the billing and the admin, and in creating the product. That’s when I first realized first of all there’s 30 things on the list. And I went, “Wow, I’m doing these 30 things, that’s too much.”
OWEN: No wonder you’re having a 16-hour a day…
STEVEN: Absolutely. And there’s still stuff left over so I felt guilty even watching TV right? Basically, he then has you score your passion level on each task. He says each score that. Once you’ve done that you tally it up, and you see the top 1 or 2 things that it’s the highest score. That’s the thing that you should be doing and everything else should be outsourced. Then he does the same thing. What’s the competence level of you doing this? Then you score it out of 10. Then what is the relevance of these tasks. Then you score all of those. You see now what were you passionate about, what’s relevant, and what are you competent at in your business, they’re 2 to 3 things you should focus on maximum and outsource everything else to start and all of that.
OWEN: Now, we’ve shared with the listener of what the issue was at that time and even the breaking point. I want to go back and talk about the specific steps you took. What was the very first step you took to solve the problems that you just mentioned earlier.
STEVEN: Absolutely. I never would say this. When I was in school I wanted to get out of school, but really how solved it was I had to get educated. I had to re-educate myself. Not really re-educate because I wasn’t educated on business in the beginning. But I had to get educated and understand what it would take in order to do that first of all. I listened to some audios. Audio books was my preferred way because I could driving, running, or I could be doing whatever and listening to audio books. There’s a new vocabulary that I needed to learn, a new way of talking, new wording. You can learn that, you can learn anything by reading a book on a topic, you automatically get much more advanced. I just listened to very powerful books on management, on growing, on scaling, and basically started to implement what I was learning.
OWEN: Do you remember any of the names of the books at that point that you were listening besides the ones you mentioned earlier?
STEVEN: Absolutely. I remember there was the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This is a very, very common book, but I remember listening to the audio version of that when he was doing a live seminar. I had to listen to it five times because I didn’t understand what he was even talking about the first few times and I just kept listening again and again, until finally I started going, “Ah, that’s what that means. Everyone used to talk about this book and I felt stupid because I didn’t understand it for the first few times. I heard and understand what we he was saying, but I didn’t really understand that until I could implement it in my business and start internalizing those things.
OWEN: What was the thing that it took you 5 times to listen to before you figure out what you were saying?
STEVEN: There was so much of it in there. I think the first habit of highly effective people which was start with the end in mind, really figure out where do you want to go. The other thing he talked about at the beginning was the performance and not liquidating the asset. He said you see there’s performance and you’re like a machine. You wouldn’t run a machine 24 hours a day in your business without servicing it. But most people are the business and they do run themselves 24 hours a day and they don’t take time out, and that’s why they burn out. He said, “You have to look after the asset of the business that’s producing the money and not burn it out. Not liquidate the asset in the name of higher profits. There’s more to it. You have to basically really preserve that. The other areas that he talked about which I loved was the difference between leadership and management. There’s a difference between a manager and a leader of an organization. The key distinctions between those because so many people blend those things together. I absolutely love that. I was really sad when he passed away just a couple of years ago and he was just an amazing man. That book single handedly really helped me transform in the way I manage and approach the business.
OWEN: What was the second step you took to solve the problem. You said something about listening to advise and taking action. Can you talk about that?
STEVEN: Absolutely. I listen to different people’s advice. I would try everything. But Jay Abraham, The Exercise. I did an exercise with Jay Abraham and instead of listening to the book I actually listened to that exercise, I filled it in and I did it. I could’ve easily just taken a piece of paper and chucked it aside. But as soon as he said find someone that can do all of the outsource work for you and you focus on these 2 or 3 things that you do I picked up the telephone straight away. I called 1 or 2 people that I could talk to about this and I hired one of those people straightaway. She came into my business and instantly started to segregate everything, take away, and create systems. She would just say to me what happens then when this happens? She started writing it down. So many business owners have the system, they just don’t realize they’ve never sat down with someone who can extract it from them to automate it. That’s what she did for me and it transformed my business. We then created a billing and admin department out of that straightaway.
OWEN: That sounds nice, but it’s just like the first person you called that you hired. Were you just lucky you found the right person immediately. I’m curious.
STEVEN: Absolutely. What good about what I do is I coach people on webinars. I get to see all these different topics. When I’m coaching someone I’m learning what their knowledge is. The one person I thought of was actually creating a systems, a webinar series and a systems course, and helping businesses systemize. I already knew who the right person was because it was right under my nose. There’s normally someone under your nose right now that you could hire to do stuff for you and I was very lucky in that case. She was amazing?
OWEN: Okay. That brings us to the first step which is hiring that person, the general manager to manage everything. When that happens how exactly did the whole process take place?
STEVEN: Basically, my wife had come into the business at that point and my wife basically doubled the business. When I got married and my wife came in and we blend the businesses together, the business doubled with my wife. She’s brilliant. We realized that we are good at sales and marketing and creating. We basically got a general manager to manage everything in every different department. We still have reports coming to us like weekly reports. So we hired someone so we wouldn’t get those little tasks anymore. Basically, they would create clearer job descriptions, review everything that we’ve done, make it better, and then basically manage the staff so we don’t have to manage the staff day to day anymore, we can get on with doing what we do best and what we love which is the sales and marketing side, and the product creation.
OWEN: Back then when you were actually trying to create systems for the business how did you prioritize what order of steps to take? How did you decide which systems or processes to create first in the business? What was the decision factor that you used?
STEVEN: I don’t think there was a decision factor, I just had to get rid what was the most painful, and for me at the time it was automating the product after we sold it. We did the webinar, record the webinar, automated the sales pitch. And we would do a lot of live webinars in the early days because no one knew how to automate them. We really started with recording all of the webinars and putting them into a membership site. That enabled us to stop doing a lot of the 1 to 1 activity and repeating ourselves over and over again. So really just recording our sales pitch, recording the course that we sold after so that people could watch that instead of listening to me get on 8 hours or 10 hours worth of phone calls every day saying the same thing to everyone, that was the first step.
OWEN: So it was like you looked at what was the biggest bottleneck, let’s figure out how to systematize and automate it. And then when we’re done with that let’s look to the next one and the next one. That’s kind of how you tackled it right?
STEVEN: Absolutely, yeah.
OWEN: How exactly did you document procedures and processes for the business at the time? What tools did you use?
STEVEN: I tried mind map software. A lot of people said mind map software’s really good. Anytime I got into a piece of software and try to make something I couldn’t do it. Some people are good at working with programs and being creative at the same time but I lose my creativity when I come to a computer. I would try redesigning the mind map instead of getting the information there. I would say, “Wow, that looks better yellow, and the looks better blue.” I forgot the idea that I had. I just went back to a pen paper to be honest Owen, and I started drawing mind maps for software on a piece of paper. I said, you go here, you click there, this will go here. I will take a photo of that and I would send it to my designer. I’ve designed 6 software products that way by taking a photo of what the software should look like. In some cases there’s 10 pieces of paper. When you click they go here, and to this piece of paper and whatever. It’s the same when I put a webinar together now for a sales pitch. I basically write it out first on a piece of paper and then I come to the computer. Steve Jobs did the same thing. Steve Jobs never did a keynote presentation by starting out on a computer, he always started out with a piece of paper. When it almost perfect then he went into the computer and created that.
OWEN: I get how that works if you’re trying to create a webinar or presentation, or even if you’re trying to design a software. But I’m talking from a standpoint of documenting procedures and processes for other people to take over from you and handle those tasks. I’m trying to find how exactly you went about documenting those.
STEVEN: Absolutely. Just a piece of paper and a pen, and a lot of times it was just recording my voice and then have someone type it up. Another way we did it was video tutorials on a computer. If I had to show someone how do to billing and refund someone for example then I would use ScreenFlow on a Mac. It’s a great software, it records your screen. On a PC you would use Camtasia. I just record my screen. I go, “Okay, here I’m going to show you how to do a refund.” I’ll go in there and I’ll record it. If this happens you do this… And then send them the video, and they would see the process via a video.
OWEN: Okay. If we can talk about what you did to solve the problem and we don’t even talk about the challenges itself it would seem that it was all easy. But obviously there had to be challenges. What will you say was the biggest challenge that you experienced when you initially tried to create the systems and how did you solve it?
STEVEN: Basically, what I mentioned earlier, it’s getting educated again and taking immediate action on the things that you’ve learned like implementing. So whether you’re hiring a coach, or a consultant, or you’re studying books on the topic make sure you implement that information because otherwise what’s the point of doing it. I wanted to implement that to get the changes, to get the results, to be free, to have more time to grow the business and I couldn’t do that unless I took action. Too many people read and buy coaching with experts and hire consultants, and they don’t implement what the person tells them. What’s the point? They just wasted money, they just wasted time. Get educated, hire help if you have to get professionals and then implement what they say and test it out for yourself, you might be surprised.
OWEN: What was the second biggest challenge that you experienced, the way you were trying to create a system. You mentioned something about finding a bookkeeper and creating a bookkeeping system, talk about that.
STEVEN: Absolutely. Finding the bookkeeper for me was the critical step because the billing was the area that I hated the most.
STEVEN: I just hate doing data entry receipts, it’s very mind numbing. I don’t enjoy looking at day-to-day stuff like that. I like looking at the numbers, how we did financially, once a week, once a month, going over the numbers, bank accounts, and all of that. But when it comes to data entry I don’t enjoy it. So getting the MYOB, the software setup, telling them how I want to do the reporting, and what I want to see. When you drill down on each department and when they ask I want a report done, I want it done this way. But it should look like you’ve never done it before. I had to get educated on how these works. So I told the bookkeeper I want to know where we spend every single on what? So I want to know how much we spend on domain names, I want to know how much we spend on go to webinar, on Infusionsoft, and whatever software we use and people we use, website developers. We can basically see how much we’re spending on flights, hotels, and all that. Everything is segmented. I can look at in on a monthly basis and know exactly how much we’ve spent, how much we’ve made, and where we are on track to reaching our goals.
OWEN: What other challenges besides these two you’ve mentioned that you experienced at the time you were trying to create systems. During the pre-interview you said something about managing the team and the other was challenge with hiring the general managers. Let’s talk about each of them.
STEVEN: Absolutely Owen. Managing the team, I really tried my best to manage but I’m not a good manager. I’m an okay manager but I’m not a good one. I’m busy with creativity and I don’t have time to manage people, and I don’t enjoy managing people. So hiring a general manager is how we solve that project. But everytime you think you solved the problem in your business there’s always going to be something else that comes up and you need to let go. I always say it’s like peeling an onion. Every time you peel a layer there’s always another layer that you can automate and as a way you can make it better. To me that’s what’s fun and that’s part of the journey that we enjoy. You listen to people who’ve sold their business. We had a business partner that sold for over 11 million. She said the biggest fun I had was when I was building it. That was the fun part.
OWEN: The Lego pieces you’re putting them together this piece of the puzzle. First of all, you’re the creative type so you had the issue of managing the team. And now you brought the general manager to come in, but the other issue was when the general manager was letting go. How did you solve that issue of letting go, because I’m sure you had to struggle with it.
STEVEN: Absolutely, it is a struggle but I think when you’re ready, they say when the student is ready to teach their peers. We were ready. We’re at the point where we’re looking at it and going, we don’t want to keep doing this, we’ve got enough money and we’ve got enough other businesses where we could just kick back and relax. Why are we killing ourselves still with this one. Basically, we were ready to let go. There’s some business owners that I’ve worked with that will never let go because they have a controlling issue. I didn’t really have a controlling issue, I want what’s best for the business, and that’s the difference. I think you have to see what’s best for this business. Look at the business like a different entity like a person and say to yourself what’s best for the business. Not what’s best for me, what’s best for the business and looking at it that way. The best thing for our business is for us to get out of the way because we don’t know what we’re doing at this level. We need to leave.
OWEN: Back then been through some of the challenges that you were experiencing, but I’m wondering why did you even stayed committed to that goal of systematizing the business giving all the difficulties and challenges that you just mentioned?
STEVEN: I ask myself the same question. Basically what it was, I wanted a life. I didn’t want to get into a business to be owned by the business. I wanted to create financial freedom, travel whenever I want to, raise kids one day and be there for them every day to pick them up from school and really be a mentor for them and really tried to create amazing people for the world. I wanted to buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Once you make money you don’t feel the need to buy that stuff anyway, which is kind of the paradox. You think you want all these stuff and you realize, my wife and I have the most de-cluttered apartment in the gold coast. People come over and go, “Where’s all your stuff?” We go, “This is it. We don’t need anything really except food, shelter, and clothes, everything else is sort of secondary. It’s amazing that we thought we wanted that. But really, the freedom and the lifestyle, to be able to travel. We see job security doesn’t exist anymore. It’s dangerous that people, they think they’re going to be working at a company forever and the company or the government is going to look after them. We’ve seen now and particularly with G8 nations that there’s not going to be enough money for people to reply always to contribute, to give back, and to run things my own way was really what I wanted. So it’s a dangerous thing to not have a business that’s systemized, automated, and has people running it. If you get sick, if something happens to you as a business owner and you’ve be there, the business has to survive and it can’t if it revolves around you. So for us systemizing there was no other way. It had to be that way and that’s why we stayed committed.
OWEN: Awesome. We’ve given the listener the kind of the things that you did to systematize the business and get it to run without you. Let’s bring you back to the present. At what point in this story that you’ve been sharing so far that you realize that the entire business is systematized and it could actually run successfully without you?
STEVEN: Actually, my main business doesn’t run without me yet so I’m still doing some high level coaching and some webinars. But I am doing it by choice because I have other companies. I have five companies now. One of them is my one and the other one’s all owned 50% share. But basically I have other specialists that run those companies and I don’t have to do anything. I’ve got a team that is fully automated. My own business, my own baby that I started, all that time I go, I still work in it, I still do stuff but I have other businesses. So I do it by choice really.
OWEN: Let’s see if we can clarify it for the listeners because the idea is that you have a business that runs successfully without you. What I get from that is you have a bunch of businesses of which one of them you’re still very much involved because you’re doing coaching in that one. But what are the other ones that actually run without you, just so the listener knows.
STEVEN: Absolutely. Along the same lines of what we do, education and coaching, except what I did was I partnered with people who love coaching but they don’t love marketing. What we found was they love coaching and they love selling, and they love creating new products, but they don’t love everything else. So what we had already created was everything else. We’d created the marketing funnels, the system, the billing, the billing person handling refunds, the bookkeeping, all of the back end stuff that more business owners hate, we had all that setup, plus the funnel to get leads we have all that setup. And the struggle with the expert in an industry is getting the customers, is doing the backend. And when we found someone who is suitable, who loves it, who gets results, who has great programs, who has great information, we help them systemize and automate, and I just plug them into my team. So my team basically who runs it for me runs it for them as well.
OWEN: Let me see if I can explain this correctly. You have a system where you can plug in an expert. So basically you’re now like a publisher. You can plug in the expert into your system and they go in there, go through the funnels and everything that you have, and even the backend admin stuff, they get in there and shine as the expert and do their coaching and all that, but your system takes care of everything, billing, training, and all that, right?
STEVEN: Precisely. I call it the medical center model because we own the medical center and the doctors pay us rent or a commission from everything. So I look at it in that model.
OWEN: Okay, now I get it. The part that doesn’t run without you is where you’re doing your own coaching. Why are you doing your own coaching for, I just want to be clear on that.
STEVEN: Basically, I run a mastermind, high level. So every 12 weeks I get together my high-level clients. My clients pay me up to 50,000 to work with them. We’re basically helping them to create their ultimate business. That’s putting together their webinar and all of that. Some of those people become business partners as well, that’s why I still do it because I have 5 businesses now but we could easily run 10 businesses. So it’s a great way to make money, number 1, and also help more people, and also to maybe choose and find some more business partners that they want to basically have someone else run the backend. And we have a great backend.
OWEN: It is a beautiful model because you’re basically bringing them to your coaching program and identifying who the best fit to put into your machine as a publisher and publish their product. I love that. We’ve talked about how the business is systematized and can run without you. I also want to give the listener some kind of insight as to the different parts of the business and the specific systems that you have in place for each part. So maybe you can choose any of the businesses that runs without you for this very example now, think of it like a conveyor belt. On one end is somebody who has a problem that maybe one of the businesses does solve. So that person is on one end of the conveyor belt. Now that same person is on the other end of the conveyor belt and has been transformed and is gone through the course or program and is raving about you guys, referring other people to the program. Give us a behind the scenes of the different parts of the business that’s making that transformation happen.
STEVEN: Absolutely. Whenever we’re working together with someone, the first thing is to put together a webinar. If I’m running it myself I would do a practice run, and if my students are doing it we’ll have them practice in front of us until we’re happy with it. Once we’ve got that down we have to get people to register for the webinar to turn up, so getting leads in the door. If you have a database like we do you can test it on our database. We are looking for a 10% conversion, 1 in 10 people who are there we want them to be buying. And if we’re getting more we know the product is too cheap we need to boost the price. If we’re getting less than 10% we might need to adjust the offer or is it targeted enough, or whatever the problem is. Once the customer comes into the funnel we have to deliver a product. If the product is already created then they go into an automated funnel to watch the modules, or get the shipping of the DVD’s or whatever they’ve got. If it’s a done for your service then they contacted and book the time for the first appointment and consult for them or whatever. We always have a policy of a welcome call. Because we sell online and so many of our competitors, they don’t call their customers. We have policy where we’ll call you within 48 hours to thank you for buying. When it started, I used to make the calls and the customer would say, “Wow, I heard you on the webinar and now you’re calling. It’s amazing.” The money has all gone at that point to the billing department so they figure out which tax we need to pay. In Australia we have to pay like a GST or a VAT. Overseas we don’t pay that, though they’re trying to bring in laws now in different countries. It’s a complicated process with all the currencies that are going on in PayPal. PayPal looks like one bank account but it’s US dollars, it’s Euro dollars, it’s British Pounds, it’s New Zealand dollars, it’s Australian dollars, it’s Swiss Francs. Every single different currency that you’re paying is a different headache for the billing person. If you’re doing it properly and reconciling the books properly like you should be doing it’s a complicated process. I don’t even get involve in that anymore, that’s all automated. At the end we get them into our database and we try and get them to an event. At the event it’s more personal. We offer high-end products and services, the $10,000 boot camps, the $50,000 coaching programs, the masterminds and all of that high-level stuff at that point. That’s really where we make our profit right there. We call it the profit maker because everything else sort of covers the expenses, covers the day-to-day, make a bit of profit, but really those high-level stuff, when you’ve already paid for a customer to come on board the high level stuff is really where the cream is in the business, and we call that the profit maker section.
OWEN: Let’s use one of those business where you’re acting more like a publisher and you’re publishing one of your experts through your system, right? So let’s use that business as an example in this case. What systems do you have in place in that business that enables all the employees to know exactly what they need to do?
STEVEN: Basically, what we have there is we have it down in terms of they know what they do for us. For example the social media manager. He knows that he needs to post 3 times a day and answer any direct messages, and send them to the business partner. What will happen is the social media manager will check login to the social media account. If there’s any requests he will answer anything he can. If he can’t answer or an inquiry he will send it to my business partner who will phone them up and closed them over the phone. We have our processes in place for every different department. If the sale comes in what happens is the billing person [Unintelligible 00:35:06]. Basically, they just duplicate what we do in our business in their… The only difference between my business and the business partners, experts, businesses, is that I actually still do some coaching and consulting in my business now, which is the final stages of letting go. That’s why we’ve hired a general manager to even fine tune things a little bit more and get rid of that.
OWEN: I’m curious, it’s there a specific tools that are managing the workflow of how tasks gets handled. That’s what I’m trying to find out specifically in this question. What tools are those so we can share them with the listener.
STEVEN: Absolutely. We use email to communicate, Skype, another communication if we need to meet, we meet on Skype. But also Basecamp. Basecamp is a fantastic tool which gives a deadline for our web designers. Our design team mainly use that, project manager through Basecamp. That’s another tool. That’s the main thing that we use to automate the system. We use Infusionsoft as well as 1ShoppingCart. We use all the auto responders in different businesses. Get response anywhere, but we use all of those accounts for managing, email, automation… Internally we just communicate via Basecamp or email, and by phone as well, so Skype.
OWEN: Correct me if I’m wrong but what I’m assuming from this is that for the tools that you guys are using, you basically have created templates for what should be done. So whenever a request comes in into one of those tools it will follow a series of template steps so that the person who’s doing the work can get it done. Is that what it is, it’s based on templates?
STEVEN: Absolutely. It’s based on templates and precedents that we’ve already… stuffed we’ve done. A video recording that we’ve done and say here’s how you do this. Once someone’s done something a couple of times they know their role so it’s quite good. We’re now bringing in the general manager now which is basically putting in key performance indicators. So creating performance outcomes which we never did before. We do work day to day, get this done, we never really projected and planned them. We’re just lucky, we’re in a growth market. We’re in an industry that is growing so the business has been doubling virtually every year. But we’ve gotten to the point where we are maxed out. We don’t have any more time and we can scale so much more. So that’s why we’ve got a general manager now which is in the implementation process of creating all the KPI’s and the performance, reviews, and all of that stuff.
OWEN: I know that you have the person who’s working on creating key performance indicators, goals, and also being able to track bonuses. But I’m curious, even as she’s working on trying to build that how do you currently track and verify the results being delivered by your employees. What kind of reports and stuff you have in place for that right now.
STEVEN: Absolutely. Some of my staff send me a daily report, other send me a weekly report, bookkeeping me sends me a monthly report as well as a quarterly report. The other part of the general manager’s role is to put goals in place for them as I said. I never had really goals in place, figuring out what their goals are and then figuring out what’s the goals of the business for them. They weren’t part of the big picture but now we’re including them in that and we’re going to put those things into place. But basically I just get daily, weekly reports from people telling me here’s what I did, and I can see how long they’ve spent on tasks, what they’ve had challenges with, etc.
OWEN: Now, we’ve gone through how you’ve been able to systematize the business. Obviously, you have more free time. I’m curious, now that you have more free time, which areas of the business do you focus on now and why?
STEVEN: I focus on getting more leads in the door. The sales and marketing is the number 1 thing in the business to me getting them in. We want to figure out how we can get more sales and leads in the business. Our business primarily came in the form of joint ventures. In the first 3 years that I started running it, so for half the life the life of the business so far 90% of the money was coming from other people’s joint venture. You pay 50% to a joint venture in our industry and I was always trying to come up with other channels. So we weren’t dependent just one channel because once you know that the product is there and it works, it’s just about getting more people in the door and scaling it up, but not depending on one source of income. Like joint ventures, if you can generate leads through newspapers, media, television, etc., so that you’re not dependent on one source. If that source dries up you don’t have a business. Because some people say I have a business but they have one customer. And if that one customer decides to pull the contract then they don’t have a business anymore. It’s just about diversifying into other lead sources. I actually enjoy doing that. I look at it like a mousetrap, trying to get a trap to work. Get the customer in, they’re going to go through the funnel and all of that. That’s a fun process.
OWEN: Awesome. What is the very next stage of growth for your business, what do you plan to achieve next and why?
STEVEN: I think financially, looking at the business is to take it from where it is now, 2.2 million to 10 million plus. We want to be the best information education company on the internet, in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia Pacific first, and then the rest of the world. We’ll look at that challenge later. But deliver the best service, we really want to focus on the service and the support. It’s very lacking in the internet space where we are and we want to get the client’s best results. We believe in our system of webinars and technology that we’ve created, the software’s and the processes. They make people real money and they help businesses in a great way to leverage, automate, and grow. Nothing excites me more than doing that. Last year we went around the world and I picked random people from the audience who didn’t have anything. They didn’t have information product, they didn’t have a list or anything. I built them in 2 days and launched them via a webinar. We did this in 25 cities around the world. I made from $2,000 to $22,000 for people in 60 minutes in front of a crowd and transformed a lot of lives. Then we give them a big check and we said, “Here’s your business, there’s your webinar, we’ve automated it for you.” One lady in London made $10,000 a month after that and she emailed me and said, “Thank you so much, you’ve changed me like. I make $10,000.” She was on a pension, she had 3 kids, one of the kids was partly disabled. She was a stay at home mom, depressed, her ex-factor wasn’t paying child support. She said she didn’t have lunch money at the seminar. That sort of stories inspires me and absolutely motivates me to give back. Because I didn’t know that there was a way to become financially free. When I started learning from the fantastic books I wanted to do the same for other people.
OWEN: The beauty about that is once you have a system that works, you now can apply all those through that system and still get the same result. That just shows the beauty of having systems. Whether they’re sell systems or production systems, just basically having systems in place that generate predictable results, I like that. In order to summarize what we’ve talked about so far for the listener, steps that they have to take to transform their business so it runs successfully without them, what are some of the key points that you want to leave them with.
STEVEN: Absolutely. First, if you can automate your sales process that’s the best thing you could do. Because if you’re doing the same sales pitch over and over again, talking to people one-on-one, or basically having to drive, or cold calling, you want to automate as much as you can. Pre-qualified leads as well with the webinar. Some people say, I have to do one-on-one, well, pre-qualify them. Make sure they’ve watched some information on you before you come there to maximize profits when people come through the door. One guy I know, he wouldn’t talk to someone unless they watched his webinar, because he would have to explain 45 minutes again what’s already being recorder. Then after that you got to deliver the product, fine tune the support, track it, offer other products and services that are automated and generate more money. The admin happens at the same time, and the invoicing and all of that process needs to be automated as well. And then sales support and admin, choose which area you want to let go off first, which is typically admin for most of us creative technicians out there that start businesses. Choose sales or support, whichever you like the most, automate the final one and then get a general manager once you’ve automated that last step. After that hire a CEO and a manager to run the whole company and you can basically do whatever you want.
OWEN: That’s awesome. What will you say is the very next step that the person who is listening to this interview all the way to this point should take in order to get started with transforming their business so it runs successfully without them, the very next step.
STEVEN: Absolutely. Me, I always start with a webinar presentation, selling and talking about your product or service, get it online, start leveraging the power of the web. That will get you more sales. More money can solve a lot of problems. It can allow you to hire staff to band the support. Reinvest all that money back into the business so that you can take the smallest wage that you can to live on. You don’t need fancy cars and fancy things when you’re kicking the business and trying to scale it. Put a lot of what we’ve talked about into place in your business, hiring the best people to take over stuff, and slowly alleviating yourself out.
OWEN: Is there a question that you are wishing I asked during the interview that I did not ask? If so, post the question and the answer.
STEVEN: I think, what’s the mindset that someone has to have in order to do this. That is for me the number 1 book that I read that helped me when I first started to understand what makes a good business owner. What’s the difference between a self-employed, a small business owner, and someone who builds a big business, and that was from Robert Kiyosaki’s Cashflow Quadrant. Because in that book he talks about what is the mindset of someone who is an employee compared to self-employed, compared to big business owner, compared to investor. The biggest shift that needs to happen in people is that they need to shift they’re mindset to the thinking of a big business owner. You can say I want to have a big business, but if you don’t think like Richard Branson or a big business owner does you will not get the result. Because everything starts in our mind. And if our mind can shift then the physical realm will shift as well because when you start implementing that. That’s the biggest thing that I think people could probably read that book and understand if, number 1, they want to be. Because not everyone wants to be a big business owner. They have to decide what they really, really want.
OWEN: Not everybody’s greedy like you and I, right?
OWEN: What will you say is the best way for the listener to connect with you and thank you for doing the interview?
STEVEN: You’re most welcome, mate. The best way to connect if you want to learn more about webinars and how to sell then I’ve got a great webinar that we’ve done. In that webinar I actually talk more about the medical center publisher model, how to get other experts on board to take 50% of their business and help them so you can leverage and grow. I also do a demonstration of how to put a webinar together with someone on that, as well as the benefits of automating your webinar and all of that. If anyone’s interested in learning more about webinars, selling on webinars, and automating that process then they can go to my website, steveessa.com and they can register for that and they’ll get direct access straight away.
OWEN: Awesome. Now, I’m speaking to you the listener. If you’ve enjoyed this interview all the way to this point, I want you to leave us a positive review on iTunes. To do that you go to sweetprocess.com/iTunes. If you’re using an Android to leave a positive review for us you go to sweetprocess.com/stitcher. You can leave us a positive review for us on there as well. If you know someone else who will benefit from listening to this interview, another entrepreneur who you think will find it useful pleasure share it with them. And one more thing, if you’re at that stage in your business where you’re tired of being the bottleneck and you literally want to get everything out of your head and document procedures and process for your employees so they know exactly what you know and can get tasks done correctly, sign up for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess. Steven, thanks for doing the interview.
STEVEN: You’re always welcome Owen. Thank you very much mate.
OWEN: And we’re done.
STEVEN: Awesome, cheers.