I started my business almost six years ago, and at the time it was just me hustling on my own with a baby on my hip.
I’ve now grown my team to 27, my business to over $3 million, worked with many of my DREAM clients, seen behind the scenes of thousands of funnels, and generated over $106M in revenue for our clients.
That success did NOT magically come overnight.
It’s been the result of continuous ups and downs, mistakes, growing pains, admittedly a few tears, but most importantly, the willingness to show up every single day to learn and grow as a leader and give my very best.
In this episode, I’m reflecting on everything I’ve learned over the last few years and sharing my 5 business lessons that will save you MILLIONS!
Some were learned the hard way I’ll admit, but these lessons are exactly what allowed me to grow my business sustainability, build a brilliant and incredibly talented team, become the happiest and healthiest version of myself, and create more freedom in my life. After tuning in, slide in my Instagram DM’s (@emilyhirsh) and let me know which lessons resonate with you the most!
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READ THE EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. Can you guys believe this is the 300th episode of the now Not For Lazy Marketers Podcast? When we started out it was the Hirsh Marketing Underground Podcast, so crazy. I think that means I’ve been doing this podcast for almost three years. I don’t know. I put it out twice a week. We’ve done some extra ones. Three years, which is so wild. I’m pretty sure I started this podcast in 2018 towards the end of the year, so about three years, 300 episodes. So cool. I feel like if I was to go back to my beginning episodes, which I never would because it’d be too like cringy for me to hear myself back then and how I’ve just grown so much, but if I was to go back and listen to my episodes, I would have instant reflection on just how much I’ve grown.
If I think back to 2018, where my team was, where my company was, our business revenue, to where it is today, but the biggest thing is my own growth. That’s the coolest part about having a business, creating content, putting yourself out there, doing webinars, podcasts, growing a team, building a company is the actual personal growth that you go through as a leader every single day, every week. That is what I have been reflecting on a little bit as we’ve kind of come to this episode and the celebration of this episode and anniversary of this episode, which is also coming with some big pivots and changes in our marketing and what we’re doing as a business, and that’s pretty cool.
So, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about some business lessons and business lessons that if you apply, it will make you a seven figure business. I’ve taken my business in the last three years, I was at about a million dollars three years ago with very little team. Mostly it was contractors, not like it wasn’t a real business. I used to call it a fake business until I met Alex Charfen and learned how to grow a team, but that’s how we all start out. Now I’ve got 27 employees, we’re over a $3 million company. I launched the Ignite Academy since then, and it’s insane the amount of growth and with that comes lessons. So I want to talk about the five business lessons that if you implement it will instantly make you more money. Yes, we all want more money, but we also want more money while having freedom, while not working crazy hours, while feeling great every day about our business, about what we’re doing.
I think that’s like the biggest thing if I was to look back and tell you, yes, the money becomes a by-product of all those things, but to me what’s even more valuable is the fact that I only work six hours a day because the rest of the day, I’m either with my kids or I’m taking care of myself and prioritizing self care. Or it’s that I get to spend my time at a very high level, creating content, being a leader and I’m not in the day-to-day. I’m very protected. I’m not in the stress, the hustle anymore. I was in the beginning and there’s nothing wrong with that in the beginning, but building yourself out of that, building something that’s sustainable enough for me to go on vacation for a week, for two weeks, and everything’s still running, building that is priceless and has so much more value behind it. So here are my five business lessons that I hope you guys enjoy.
Number one, this is probably my top one. I hinted at this in a more recent podcast, but it’s something I’ve learned time and time again and feel like I have gotten a lot better at it, but I’m still obviously not perfect. That is the importance of collaboration, letting your team solve problems. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m definitely a control freak. I control everything. If there’s a problem, I have the solution. I think I’m right. I think my idea is the best. I definitely, at least subconsciously and automatically, go to that place. I’ve had to work really hard over the last several years to get to a place where I don’t do that. There’s times where I have to say them to myself in my head, I’ll be on a meeting, something will come up and I’ll be like, I have the answer. I have the answer, but it’s like, stay on mute. Don’t say anything. Let the team talk and then give your, give your feedback.
What I’ve learned over the last, especially the last year, my team is in such an incredible place. So much better than it was three years ago, even two years ago, even a year ago right now. If you were to ask me the one thing that’s contributed to that success, it’s that I do follow this formula when we have a problem, when we have a new initiative, when we have a project, when we have something we want to accomplish on our team. Instead of me going, “okay guys, here’s the problem. Here’s what we’re going to do. Now, you guys all go do this. You go execute,” I ask them, what are the problems? Where are our vulnerabilities? Where are we missing the mark? Where are we not hitting our goals? And why?
I pull that out of people and then I let them go solve the problem. It’s not a single person on my team that solves problems, or creates new initiatives, or builds out new process, or whatever it is that we’re working on. Usually it’s multiple things at one time. It’s not one person, it’s also coming from collaboration. We pull in our key players, experts who bring different values. Everyone on my team has a different experience and perspective and way that they look at things or handle things. When you have a new project and three or four people touch it and provide their genius and their insight, it is a hundred times more valuable than anything that one person could create, let alone myself.
The other thing is, as you build a company, you become very disconnected from the day-to-day. I don’t work one-on-one with clients. I don’t work one-on-one with our Ignite students. I’m not in the trenches every day doing the work. So how could I solve the problems? I would never, I would miss it all the time. I used to, especially I would say when things went wrong and there was a problem, I obviously care about my business, it’s my baby, right? So my gut instinct used to be when something goes wrong, to go in deep and go solve the problem for my team, come in, take it over, rescue it. Like I’m taking the marketing department over, I did that for six months, or I’m going to come in and I’m going to solve this and I have the answers. I didn’t realize I was doing it, but I was doing that. That used to be in the way I did it.
Now I still have to work at it, I’m a hundred percent not perfect at this, but letting my team solve the problems, letting my team even dictate what the problems are and pushing them to collaborate with each other has paid off so much. There’s been times where recently, so sometimes with a brand new process or initiative or project that we complete, it sent to me for final review. By then, it’s probably gone through about four people with their feedback. Most of the time these days I have barely anything to contribute, if anything at all. The thoughts going through my head once it gets to me is like, wow, this is better than anything I could have created, anything one person could have created and it’s just insanely powerful.
So that first lesson is create a culture of collaboration. It is the most important and powerful thing you can do on your team, because you are most likely, if you’ve built your team right, are sitting on incredible talent, people who have different experiences and perspectives and knowledge that they bring to the table that you don’t have and that other people on the team don’t have. Oftentimes if you don’t create the space for that, they just won’t share it. They’ll just stay in their box and do their thing. There’s a lot of cultures like that. So for sure, one of the biggest contributing factors to my success has been the culture of collaboration. A hundred percent.
The next business lesson I will touch on is simplicity. Now this has been a massive theme of mine, especially in the last year to six months, but I have always prided myself on being somebody who stays focused, one business, one funnel. We got into this place where we had an amazing team and so we could do more things, and I thought, oh, well, that’s fun. That makes sense. Now we have three full-time marketing people so we can do multiple things, or on the backend with our delivery we can have five different packages. You convince yourself “we need to have that because of this X, Y, Z reason,” and the ultimate, best thing you can do for your business is ask yourself, what are you the best in the world at? What is your company the best in the world at? What do you want to be known for? Just do that and just market that and go all in on that, and everything you do from your delivery, to your marketing, to your sales, to your operations, continually ask yourself, is there a way this can be more simple?
I think so often us entrepreneurs are like, well, it can’t be that easy. It can’t be that simple, that we have to create it complicated. I found myself in that place where it’s like thinking it’s not good enough if I don’t make it more complicated than it is right now. Most of the time, the success is found in the simple things and is found in doing the simple things 110%, versus doing five things at 90%. This is harder than it sounds because I, again, pride myself in being a pretty focused entrepreneur and I’ve fallen into this so many times where I’m like, what are we doing? Why do we have five funnels? Why do we have seven packages? We need to focus. We need to make it impossible for the team to misunderstand our direction, impossible for clients to misunderstand anything about our packages, and give our marketing team the power to go all in on one initiative.
That’s part of this big pivot coming with this anniversary is around the fact that I know to get to 10 million plus in this company is going to come from simple and only doing what we’re the best in the world at. So I challenge you to ask yourself in your business, what are you the best at in the world at? Take everything off, take all the fluff off that you’re not the best in the world at, and don’t focus on that anymore. First find it, and then go all in with that.
The third business lesson is knowing who you serve and who you don’t serve, and never wavering from that. This is something I have messed up many times just on micro levels, but it’s very easy to do because as you’re growing your business, you want more revenue. You want more customers. Sometimes we start to be like, “well, our product or service could work for that person, or it could work for that situation.” Every time that I’ve gotten to a place where we’re massively scaling and we’re seeing really great success, it’s when we are very clear in who we are, and who we want to work with, and who we’re the best at the world and working with, and who we’re not.
That ability to say no, I swear to you guys, there’s something energetically about that every time. Actually, this week that I’m recording the podcast episode is an example of this. About two weeks ago, we re-met on our ideal customer avatar for our agency to make sure it was clear. We hadn’t updated it in about a year. We wanted to like reconvene as a team based on lessons we’ve learned, things that have worked, haven’t worked, and redefine that. We actually created even more specification about who goes in what package and some opportunities for us to say no, because it wasn’t the best fit.
The week after doing that, we haven’t changed anything, our sales have doubled from the week before. So not to say your sales are going to double if you do this, but I am telling you, there’s something powerful, like energetically, in being so clear about who your customer is and just as importantly, who they’re not. If I was to ask you, who is your product not for who’s your service not for, and who are you going to say no to, or try on purpose not to attract, if you don’t have an answer to that, I would go get that answer. Because what ends up happening is entrepreneurs spread a little bit too thin and they, and they go out because they want to make the revenue, they want to grow their business, and they’re like, “well we could change this, and we could change our service just a little bit here to help this person.” It ends up creating something that you can’t scale because you’re not doing what you’re the best in the world at, and you are not serving a very specific customer.
What ends up happening when you do that is you can’t create scalable process on the backend of your delivery if your customers are so different. Right? What we’ve done is if we bring in without realizing it, a client who we don’t have processes to serve, then that just creates a bottleneck on the back end of our team. So while yes, we can help that client, we are now creating almost double the work for the ads manager, which is just not scalable. Now we’re very clear about number one, who we serve and who we don’t serve, but also number two, what our packages are and with no exception where people go. We base it all on where somebody is in their business and have they sold their offers or not and what that means. That’s a big part. If you don’t have that answer, getting that answer and that clarity for yourself and for your team, if you have one, is absolutely critical.
Number four out of five business lessons is seeing opportunity versus mistakes and rapidly adjusting. Over the last several years, one thing that I have continually had to work on to get used to, and to really just accept is the concept that your business is not perfect. It’s never going to be perfect. If you’re growing, if you’re improving, if you’re changing, if you’re adding customers, something is always going to be breaking. My friend, Alex Charfen says your business is always broken, and if things go well, it always will be.
I constantly come back to that and I remind my team of that, because I think a lot of us are perfectionists, including myself, and wanting to get to the place where it’s like, once this happens, then I will be able to work less. I will have a business that does X, Y, Z. Once that happens, I guarantee you a hundred percent, something else is going to be breaking. So instead of harping on mistakes or things that are going wrong, I don’t even say the word mistake or mess up anymore, I say everything is an opportunity. I also go into every day, every week knowing and accepting that there will be places that we can do better and that is a good thing because who wants to work with a company who’s like, “we’re perfect. We’re not going to change anything. We’re not going to improve. We’re already perfect”?
With our constant experience, and growth, and serving more, and the industry changing, and us improving, I mean, if I look back two years ago, we’ve updated everything. Our trackers, our projections, our onboarding, our delivery, the way we do reporting for clients, where we do calls for clients. We’ve updated all of it and we’re going to continue to update it because as we get experienced, as we get feedback, we get better. So look out there and ask yourself what company is not improving? I would hope that almost everyone is. Whenever there’s a mistake, or there’s something that didn’t go well, or you feel like you messed up, it’s all in how you handle it, not in what exactly happened.
So, first of all, seeing that opportunity. This came up today. There was something that I found with my director of operations and it was like, man, we should have paid more attention to that, and I’m like, it’s an opportunity. This is an opportunity for the leadership team to now pay more attention to this thing, and it gives us a lot of insights, and we didn’t know it before. Now we have four things we can go in and improve quickly because of that.
So first of all, see mistakes as opportunities, but then the second piece of this is rapidly adjust. When we find something that we could do better, we get it within the maximum of 30 days, it’s improved. I say 30 days, because we do have a monthly planning process where if things are on our monthly waterfall, we can’t add like 50 things. We’ve got to get what we already committed to done, but there are oftentimes where we see something and it’s a matter of having a conversation with somebody on the team and shifting something minorly. I mean, it happens the next day.
That is one thing that I think has contributed a lot to my own personal business success and entrepreneurship journey is my sense of urgency and ability to execute, and implement, and not overthink things, and not be afraid to make mistakes. I’m not afraid to make mistakes. I know we will make mistakes. Every business makes mistakes and it’s all in how you handle them. So if you make a mistake, or there’s a hole or a gap, or something wrong in your company, number one, that’s great. That means you’re growing. Number two, it’s an opportunity for improvement and that improvement is going to lead to your business growth.
All the changes I’ve made in the last two to three years have allowed us to get to where we are today. I could not have sustained the number of clients and the caliber of clients we have today three years ago, because I didn’t have the systems and processes to do that. We had to make the mistakes, to learn from the mistakes, to see the opportunities, to get to where we are today. The same thing’s going to happen over the next three years. So find those mistakes, see them as opportunities, and then rapidly adjust and make adjustments. Don’t let it overwhelm you, just accept that’s part of your day to day, that’s what you signed up for if you want to grow your company.
The fifth business lesson is to predict vulnerabilities and ups and downs. I’ve had my company for almost six years. Six years ago, it was just me for the first like year and a half. Then I started building my team about four years ago, seriously building my team. In this time I can a hundred percent tell you that there will be ups and there will be downs in your business. Some of it can be related to the industry, some of it can be related to growing pains and things that you experienced in your business. Most major problems can not be fixed overnight or even in a month. When we have had dips in numbers or overall business success, I look at it and know it’s going to take us about 30 to 45 days to get on the other side of this. That’s the reality. Nothing can be fixed overnight, and even if you go and overnight come up with action items for you to go do to fix something, it still has to go start working and be implemented.
I think this is one of the biggest things that makes or breaks successful business owners is the people willing to stick it out versus the ones who aren’t. This lesson comes down to knowing that for now and the rest of your time in business, you will have ups and downs. My advice to you is to save cash and know that ups and downs are going to happen, because first of all, I’ve talked a lot about my experience from one to 3 million. I did have a phase in there when I was under 3 million, this was probably about two years ago almost, and we were buying our house and it was crazy stressful. I had a couple of months where the business lost money. This was two years ago and I didn’t have a lot of savings, and it was terrible.
I had the pressure of being the breadwinner of my family, buying our house for the first time. I’d never bought a house, which was a huge down payment that we had saved, where we were putting that out. Then my business lost money two months in a row. So that was a couple of years ago, and I promised myself when that happened, I knew things were going to get better. I was willing to stick it out. I knew it was going to work out. I put in the work, got up every day, cried a few times, but made it happen. I promised myself then two years ago that I would never get to a place where I didn’t have cash saved because I knew it’s not if this happens again, it’s just when.
You will have low months, for whatever reason. Maybe you had a low sales month, maybe you invested in something that didn’t work out how you thought, maybe you spent extra money because you’re investing in the future of your business. That is business, and I don’t think people talk about that as much. You will have months that you will lose money, or break even. There’s so many reasons for that, and that’s true for every business out there, that is true. So you’re going to have ups and downs. The best thing you can do is make sure you have cash saved so that when that happens you’re covered, and number two, you know that’s coming and you’re not blindsided.
What I learned is once I got to a million dollars in my business, however many years ago, like three years ago, I was like fit. I had never done that before. So in my head it felt like, well, I made it. I made it to a million, it can only go up from here. That’s what I’ve talked about in my podcast is I thought getting to 1 million was like the end all be all in. Once I had a million dollar business, like I was going to be a millionaire forever. So naive of me right now, you know, like the ups and downs, right? Once you get there, you might have three or four months that are great, and then you might have two or three months that are bad, and you’re going to have that. That is business. Now I know whenever I get to the next level, whether it’s 3 million or when I get to 10 million, or 5 million, I know I’m not going to ever have made it, right?
I’m going to always have to create something sustainable by having backup cash, by having a plan, by making sure my expenses never get too bloated. Which is actually very difficult as you grow because you get disconnected. I have a team of 27 people. I don’t know what everybody does every day to the minute, and there are times when we have people who have wasted time, because we’ve got a manager who shouldn’t be a manager, or whatever’s happening, and it’s hard to stay in touch with all those things.
I could add a sixth lesson here, let me add a bonus sixth lesson, which is your leadership team is everything. Your leadership team is everything in scaling your business to the multiple seven figures, because you have to be able to trust people that they can oversee the rest of the business, because it’s inevitable that you are going to become disconnected from what’s going on in the day to day, from what everybody’s doing, from the feedback, from the experience that your clients or customers are having. It’s impossible for you to grow a business in the multiple seven figures and know everything that’s going on. For me, if I was to look back especially in the last year, we have heavily focused on our leadership team and that has paid off tremendously and has worked so well.
So knowing those ups and downs, going back to the previous one, look ahead and ask yourself, where am I most vulnerable? Is it in my marketing? Is it my lead generation? Is it in my delivery? Is it in my operations and my systems? Where do I think I’m most vulnerable? And put attention into that in a proactive way versus reactive when it starts blowing up in your face. Things might still blow up in your face, but I am happy to tell you, they blow up way less once you get to that place where you can be very proactive. It comes from the mindset of knowing you never made it, you have to continually work.
That’s what I hate to break it to you guys. If you have a mindset of once I get to whatever your number is, for me was a million dollar business, but once I get there, then I’m good, then I made it and at least I can sustain it. That’s not the case, especially if you want to continue growing. You’ll have those ups and downs, predict your vulnerabilities, and prepare for those ups and downs so that when you’re in a down, you’re fine. I truly believe this is one of the things that differentiates those successful businesses, because I’ve also through this, met a lot of friends who have way bigger businesses than mine, and the ones who come from that proactive place and humble place of knowing that they never will have made it fully and they have to constantly either be working to massively grow or to sustain what they’ve built. Those are the businesses who are sustainable versus so vulnerable that they could go out of business next month. So that’s my fifth lesson.
Then the sixth one that I added in here is your leadership team. You might not be in a place where you’re growing your leadership team, but I will tell you, your leadership team is the key to success, in going to the multiple seven figures and having a life where… like I said, at the beginning of this episode, I think one of my biggest proud accomplishments is the fact that I have a $3 million company and a team of 27 people and I only work six hours a day. I am the healthiest, happiest, my relationships with my husband, my kids, my family, my friends is the best it’s ever been. That’s the thing I’m the most proud of because it’s very hard as the pressure builds and growing your company and the responsibility and the weight that you sometimes carry grows. Sometimes what goes down the drain is your own health, mental and physical. I’ve always kept that a priority, and it should be a priority. It forces you to get your business to a place where that needs to be a priority.
So those are, and my lessons for you, threw in some bonus lessons. Thank you so much for being a part of this community. If you’ve been here, some of you I know have been here since the very beginning that I put out the podcast, and I absolutely love and feel so honored to have this way of connecting with you guys. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say this again. I don’t take it lightly. When people consume my content, I know your time is extremely valuable. I pride myself in those really short, actionable episodes, but I also make sure that I give it to you guys straight. I cut to the chase. I tell you what’s up, what’s working, what’s not working. I hope that if all you do is listen to my podcast for the rest of time that it’s here, which hopefully is a very long time, that you get so much value and results from just that. I appreciate all the people who tune in. We have people who as soon as it comes out on Tuesday, and Thursday morning have got it going. I appreciate all of you. I love all of you. I look forward to the next 300 episodes. Thanks so much you guys, I’ll talk to you next time.