Ep. 21 transcript: Employee to entrepreneur (with Luisa Zhou of LuisaZhou.com)
Luisa Zhou (00:00):
And it’s really the same thing in any industry. No matter what industry you’re talking about, there’s always a slightly new and different perspective that only you can bring.
Melissa Guller (00:10):
That’s Luisa Zhou, creator of the Employee to Entrepreneur System. She noticed that in the early days of her online business, people kept asking her the same question, how on earth are you able to do all of this yourself while you’re still working a full time job? It’s a common situation that a lot of us face early on, dramatic as it sounds. Most of us aren’t in a position to defiantly storm into our boss’s office and say, I quit and write off into the online business sunset. We need a plan first. No, not just a plan. We need an income. That’s exactly what Luisa teaches her students how to do and in today’s episode Luisa shares some of her top tips to organically connect with early customers. She also shares how her third course launch, put her business over the million dollar Mark within just a year of starting her business and believe it or not, her strategies can work for you too.
Welcome to Everything is Teachable, the podcast that takes you behind the scenes to learn how everyday creators have transformed their skills and passions into online courses and businesses. To introduce this week’s episode, here’s your host, Melissa Guller.
Melissa Guller (01:34):
Hey everyone. I’m Melissa from Team Teachable and today I’m excited to be here with Luisa Zhou. Luisa is the creator of the Employee to Entrepreneur System, which teaches people how to leave their day job and start their own six figure plus business. She’s helped thousands of students launch their own businesses that generate anywhere from 30,000 to $100,000 in less than a year. Her advice has been featured in numerous online and print publications, including Forbes, inc entrepreneur success magazine, and more.
Luisa Zhou (02:12):
So Luisa, welcome to Everything is Teachable. Thank you so much for having me here.
Melissa Guller (02:17):
I can’t wait to learn more about your story. And just to kick things off, what did your life look like before you even started your online business?
Luisa Zhou (02:26):
Yeah, so really quick summary. I was right before I started this business. I was in a good job, had done the whole go to good school, climb the corporate ladder, had a great salary, but it just wasn’t what I thought it would be in terms of fulfillment and everything I wanted from life. So I started my first few online businesses taking my job skills, my experience up to that point, doing some consulting, replaced my income, was able to leave my, and eventually people started asking me, how are you able to do that yourself while working a job? And so I started teaching people that and created my first course Employee to Entrepreneur, which is the business that I am in now that we’re going to be talking about.
Melissa Guller (03:18):
Great. So obviously I’m sure a lot happened kind of between that, that in the now, so I know right in the beginning when you first got started, you went through a few different business ideas before you landed on Employee to Entrepreneur. So how did you finally find that idea that worked?
Luisa Zhou (03:35):
Yes. So it really was trial and error. And what I realized was a few things. First, you’re not going to most likely come up with an idea on your own in a vacuum. You’re probably gonna realize through talking with people that you something you know already is something they’re willing to pay for. And so just like I said, with Employee to Entrepreneur, people started asking me and I started answering their questions and it came very naturally. Same thing for my first online business. I literally, I just went into Facebook groups. I saw people asking about how to do advertising, which was what I did in my job. And I said, Hey, I’m not trying to sell you anything. I don’t have anything to sell. I’m happy to answer your questions because this is what I do in my job. If in return, you’ll just give me a few minutes of your time to do some market research with me. And that turned into people asking me, Hey, okay, how can I hire you? You’ve given me so much value. And that became my first business. And same thing with Employee to Entrepreneur as well. It’s just a, it’s a very natural evolution of, you know what? You’re probably going to struggle to figure out an ID on your own, so go out there and talk to people, answer their questions and see what comes up
Melissa Guller (04:43):
And I’m sure too when you started answering people’s questions you also get a sense of the questions that you like answering and maybe some that you might be good at but don’t necessarily love.
Luisa Zhou (04:53):
Oh, very much so. So just to take us back a little bit, before I landed on digital advertising, I had tried also teaching Microsoft Excel because I saw other successful businesses doing it and I thought, Hey, I do this in my job, I know all the fancy shortcuts and I’m really fast with it so I’ll teach it. It took me like two to three weeks to write my first blog post because I was bored. I thought this is what I do in my job all day long. I don’t want to talk about it in my free time. And so that absolutely gives you a feel for what you don’t want to talk about as well.
Melissa Guller (05:26):
That’s a really good test like for anybody considering what idea should I pursue? See if you can sit down and write a blog post and if you can’t even do that much, you probably have a bigger problem on your hands,
Luisa Zhou (05:37):
Like you don’t want to. Exactly.
Melissa Guller (05:40):
[Inaudible] now I also noticed that you mentioned just starting to be really helpful in those Facebook groups and then kind of a natural evolution from there and I’m sure for people listening they might have this question about how do you pivot from the moment of just being helpful to actually trying to close a sale.
Luisa Zhou (05:58):
Yeah, so for me it was actually very natural and what happened was someone I had given a lot of free value to and Denmark it research with. She followed up with email questions to me over about two weeks and at that time I was just thinking, Oh my gosh, someone cares about what I have to say. And so I just kept on responding and these were really long, detailed responses. And after about two weeks she emailed me, I open up the email, I thought it was going to be another question and I was really surprised when it said, Hey, you’ve given me so much value for free. How can I hire you? And I actually had to say to her, Oh my gosh, this is awesome. Give me a week, let me try and figure out what price is bare, what I can package together, if that’s fair for both of us, cause I have no idea. Yeah. So it was very organic like that. And that’s when I started realizing, Oh Hey, first of all, people want to hire me for this. And if I start with helping people for free, then for some people that might very naturally transition into, okay, how can we work together more?
Melissa Guller (07:00):
I love that and I think it gives you such a good opportunity to show off your expertise and how helpful you are because it’s so hard, especially online, I feel we’re, you don’t know them, they don’t know you. And so why should they trust you and doing what you did where you were just being overly helpful and responsive is not the norm. And so I’m sure it helped you stand out and people took notice and said like, Oh, she’s really helpful. Not just, Oh, she wants to sell me.
Luisa Zhou (07:26):
Exactly. And that makes such a big difference because especially when you’re starting out from zero online, which we all do, you can’t just say, Hey, look at my resume, look at my career people. People don’t know that. They can’t see all that detail from even your LinkedIn profile. And so how are they going to know you from anybody else out there? They have no articles, no blog, no website to look out for you. And so well the shortcut is to say, okay, well then let me just basically show you, prove to you, I know what I’m talking about by leading with that free help first
Melissa Guller (07:58):
[Inaudible] and then a question I wonder if listeners would have is how much is too much when it comes to giving things away for free and should they be worried that they’re, you know, letting people take advantage of their time?
Luisa Zhou (08:09):
Yeah, so there’s a fine line here. Of course you don’t need to be giving free advice for three months on end it to one person. That being said, this is something that I didn’t worry too much about in the beginning and at this point I recommend people don’t worry about too much when you’re starting out. Because the thing is when you’re giving something for free, there’s a big difference between free and working with someone or learning from someone through a course, right? There is a lot more accountability. There is a system versus even with free, you’re just answering one off questions or providing one off pieces of content. So when someone is looking for the actual help, they’re going to be in a very different mindset from someone who is just looking to get as much free as possible. And what’s going to happen is you’re going to realize that the people who are looking to hire someone to get that support, to learn from them, they’re using the free as kind of a metric to see, Hey, this is person aligned with what I want to learn.
Luisa Zhou (09:07):
Do they know what they’re talking about? Whereas if someone isn’t going to buy from you, it doesn’t matter how much or how little you give, they wouldn’t have bought from you anyways. And so what you’ll see is that you’re going to get a feel for which type of people you’re talking to as you talk to just even a handful of people. And then you’re going to realize, okay, I can, I can calm down about having to give too much because the right people who are going to want to work with me, who I’m going to want to work with, they’re are using free as a judge meant of, okay, is this the right person to hire versus, okay, they gave me so much, now I can go off and do it on my own.
Melissa Guller (09:43):
Hmm. That’s such a great point. Now I know we’ve covered, you know, your early days responding to Facebook, starting to help people. At what point did you start thinking about creating an online course instead of just offering one-to-one services?
Luisa Zhou (09:56):
Yeah, it was, I’m trying to think. I would have to say it was when I had about 10 or so one-on-one clients, maybe a few more, and I was pretty much maxed out. I couldn’t take on a whole bunch more, but I knew I, I wanted to help more than just the 10 people I was working with as private clients and I also did want to continue to increase my business revenue and so I decided, okay, well what’s the next step? How do you, how do you leverage this? And it became, all right, well, I take the content that I have been teaching my one on one clients and at this point, after about three to five clients, what I saw was that look, every single call I was teaching the same things, the same questions were coming up and so I started noticing patterns for, okay, make sure I talk about this on this call, make sure I addressed this question beforehand and so on and so forth.
Luisa Zhou (10:45):
And through the worksheets I was creating for my private clients, that was naturally the became the course content for my course. And so I just said, okay, let me package this into a course. It’s not going to be perfect the first time around, but I’m also going to really make it valuable to people, not just by making a self study, but by being involved in answering my students’ questions as well so that they’re going to realize, Hey, the course itself might not be the most gorgeous course, but though content is great, Luis is in there and so it’s going to be an incredible value. And so that’s how I started transitioning from the one-on-one model to adding on group programs.
Melissa Guller (11:25):
And before we talk about that, I just want to like reiterate that important point you said, which was the design didn’t have to be the most beautiful. It was the content that mattered the most and as long as you could help people move forward with whatever that outcome is, then it would still ultimately be worth the price. It’s less so about like the bells and the whistles and the colors.
Luisa Zhou (11:44):
Exactly. I mean, I think for my first two or maybe even three program launches, I didn’t have pretty PDFs know I didn’t have pretty videos. It was, Hey, here’s the stuff in a Google doc. Here’s maybe some audio and the rest of the time you and I were going to be talking on our group calls in our private groups so that you get the support, you get the content. It’s just not going to be the most gorgeous cause we got more important things to focus on. Right. We got work to do here. So let’s talk about that first launch. So you’ve got your first course together. How did your first course launch go and what did it look like? Yes, so before I created my full flesh Employee to Entrepreneur course, which is a massive course. Before that I had a smaller course, which was basically the first few pieces of what I would eventually teach in Employee to Entrepreneur.
Luisa Zhou (12:36):
And what that allowed me to do is first create a much smaller course, which is way less intimidating and overwhelming when you’re a first time course creator. It was about seven weeks long, so seven modules. And it allowed me to sell it at a lower price point, which felt so much easier to me to sell. And I called it your first paying clients. So again, very focused on the first few steps. And at that point I was starting to build a very small audience. And by small I mean maybe a hundred, 200 people, that’s it. And I was starting to have my one on one clients get really great results. So people were starting to see, okay, this woman, Luisa, she, she’s actually having clients who get results. And so what I did for my first launch, I did a challenge style launch. And this was before Facebook live stream.
Luisa Zhou (13:25):
So this was, I believe back when Periscope was a hot thing. And so, yeah, right. It’s been awhile. And so what I did was every day, so I created a new Facebook group from scratch and I said, Hey guys, I’m going to do a five day challenge and I’m gonna teach you things that are going to help you get started with your own online business. And through these five days, I showed up every day on Periscope. I did a really valuable live Periscope livestream for I believe, 30 minutes to an hour. I answered people’s questions. I just showed the heck up. I did that. I answered any followup questions they had in the Facebook group, talk to people, talk to everybody. And what happened was when I opened the cart for the course, nobody bought on my first day. So if you are expecting to hear, Oh yeah, it was awesome.
Luisa Zhou (14:16):
No, it wasn’t. I actually did not have anybody buy the course until I think about three days before enrollment was going to close. And up until that point, that first sale, I remember thinking, Oh my gosh, I just totally messed up. Nobody wants to buy. My course was such a waste of time and I feel so sad and disappointed and I’m going to look so stupid. But thankfully I didn’t give up because I was just like, look, I committed to doing this. Let me just see how this goes. Anyways. And so thankfully what happened was three days before the cart closed, someone emailed me or I think they Facebook messaged me and said, Hey, I’ve been thinking about your course. Is this a good fit? Can we hop on a quick call to talk about it? And so I said, Hey, yes we can. And did that they bought right away.
Luisa Zhou (15:03):
And that’s when I realized, all right, there are a lot of people who maybe we just are thinking about it, but they maybe want to talk to me. So I started really pushing, Hey, if you are thinking about this course, you don’t know, me and my, my copywriting, my marketing skills were not that amazing at that point. I just knew how to give value and help people. So I said, Hey, well why don’t we get on a call to talk this through and see if it’s the right fit for you? If it’s not, then that’s totally fine. I won’t, I’ll tell you if it’s not. And so, so many people started scheduling calls with me. I also reached out to people in the past who had wanted to learn about my private coaching, but it just wasn’t the right investment or the right fit for them and said, Hey, I know that wasn’t the right fit. Why don’t we try this course instead? And through that basically what happened was over the last few days, and I believe maybe I extended the card open a little bit so that I had a little bit more time to finish all the calls, but through the last few days I spoke to so many people and what happened was I actually ended up having fit, I believe 15 people join the program, which was, I mean way exceeded my what my wildest dreams.
Melissa Guller (16:12):
That’s huge. And do you mind asking like what was the price point that you were selling it for?
Luisa Zhou (16:17):
Absolutely. So the price point was I believe around $300 so $300 for seven weeks. And I, I mean I’ve always over-delivered, but especially that first course I, I mean I was emailing, I was Facebook messaging, I was hopping on one on one calls with every single student who had a question, who wasn’t, who was struggling a little bit. And so it was just like, Hey, this is kind of the a no brainer of value.
Melissa Guller (16:42):
[Inaudible] And I love about your approach that you did try so many different things because I feel like a lot of creators are maybe looking for like the channel like Oh you should sell through Instagram, you should sell through email marketing. But you did a mix and I think the theme is obviously that you are really showing up and you were being so personal and offering all this value. And I think the fact that you changed gears and said like let’s do phone calls is both, you know, a great piece of advice, like adapt on the fly, try new things. But also in a world where businesses called online business, this is still very personal. This is not just you hiding behind your computer, you’re really getting out there to talk to people.
Luisa Zhou (17:20):
Yes. I love that you mentioned this because this is huge. I am a huge introvert. I mean especially when I was starting out, it was so scary to talk to people to get on those Periscopes. But what I quickly realized was, you know, people can only get so much of a feel for me through what I’m writing. It’s so much easier to show people who I am, what I’m about, that I know what I’m talking about through a video. And so it just quickly became, Hey, I’m not going to rely on sales post emails, things like that to sell. Cause I mean when, when especially when you don’t have an audience, when you don’t have a ton of social proof or testimonials, it’s, it’s tougher, Alan. So I just said, all right, you know what? I know, I know what I’m talking about. People are going to realize that if they just talk to me, so let me just go with this instead of trying to figure out, all right, how can I write another email or post or be on another social media channel that maybe maybe will or won’t work for me?
Melissa Guller (18:15):
[Inaudible] Great advice, especially for introverts listening who may assume that writing is not just their best for perhaps their only option. There are a ton of other ways that don’t have to feel so intimidating. Just to give it a shot and let your personality shine.
Luisa Zhou (18:29):
Melissa Guller (18:31):
So you did your first launch, you’ve got your 15 students. What happened after that?
Luisa Zhou (18:35):
Yeah, so the really cool thing about doing this first launch was that it just helped me drive so much momentum because at that point I had 15 students, which was more clients than I’d had up until then. You know, more than a ten one on one clients. And what happened was a few things. First of all, because I showed up so much because the course was delivered in such a bites, bite sized chunks. It wasn’t overwhelming. Like we had a phenomenal success rate. I believe about 90 95% of all the students who in the course went out there and got their first paying client. So it, I mean, that’s unheard of, right? And yeah. So then what happened was a few things. First I got a ton more testimonials. People were starting to say, Oh wow, you know, I’m hearing about this course. I’m hearing about this results.
Luisa Zhou (19:22):
This is awesome. And then what happened was, because I delivered so much value, people are getting results. A lot of the people in the course said, Hey Lisa, how can I continue working with you one on one or join your next course after it’s, this is over. And so what happened was about 30% of those 15 people ended up joining my next course, which ended up being an Employee to Entrepreneur or hiring me one-on-one. And so that added a huge boost to my revenue as well. And so that added the revenue. And then what it also did was, because I had a few people who basically said, Hey, yes, I’m in, put me down for the Employee to Entrepreneur course. Because towards the end I was thinking, you know what? There’s so much momentum here. I’m in the zone. Let me just go for it. And so I told them about the course they join.
Luisa Zhou (20:09):
And having those couple of sales lined up before I even launched the new program just gave me massive confidence to say, okay, even if I don’t make any other sales, I’ve got a few right now and it’s going to be awesome. And so I just build on that momentum and also gave me a timeline where I said, okay, I committed to saying I’m going to do this in the next two months. Now I have to do it rolling off the course, launching it, all of that. And so that really gave me the momentum, the motivation, the testimonials to show people, Hey, I did a small course. It got people results. I’ve worked with one on one clients, they’ve gotten results and now I’m ready to create a much bigger course.
Melissa Guller (20:46):
[Inaudible] I think it’s really important to note too that at every stage that you got larger, it was because you were seeing results from your clients or students and the testimonials to back it up. And so I think for anybody listening, it doesn’t matter if you start with one or 10 people, if you start to get early results, that’s a good sign that you know you can start to get a little bit larger. Think about a course, but until you get some of those testimonials or early success stories, maybe keep refining your process because unless you can get that proof, I imagine it would have been hard for you to do what you did without those like insane success rates.
Luisa Zhou (21:20):
Oh my gosh, it, your client testimonials at any point in your business are so important, especially when you’re starting out because otherwise people are gonna wonder, Hey, this person seems like they know what they’re talking about, but can they really help me? Right. And so, I mean, even nowadays, but especially in the beginning of my business, I, it was all about, all right, what can I do to help this person get the best results?
Melissa Guller (21:44):
I love that. So you have your second launch. How did that one go compared to the first [inaudible]?
Luisa Zhou (21:51):
So it went even better. I mean, it was, it was hard. I took everything I’d learned from the previous launch and really just double down on all of it. So what I learned about selling, talking to people on the phone, doing the challenge that worked, the client testimonials, how to teach the program, and so what happened, this was really cool. Same thing. I did another Periscope challenge. Use the same strategy, made it even better. I think I did maybe a seven or a 10 day challenge this time around. People who had seen the course previously were like, Oh man, I missed out last time. All right, I’m going to, I’m going to be in, and at this point people had been seeing me show up consistently for a good amount of time and so maybe they hadn’t been ready before, but they were ready now.
Luisa Zhou (22:34):
And so what happened was on the very first day I opened enrollment, I had one or two people say, Hey Luis, I’ve been waiting for your next course. I’m in, let me do this. And I had a, I can’t remember how long I kept the cart open for, maybe it was two or three weeks or so, and I just really went all in. I showed up every day. I talked to as many people as possible as her for referrals. I followed up with people who had previously said, you know, this isn’t the right time, but maybe in the future and what happened? I mean it blew my mind. I enrolled around 30 students and it was a much higher price point because it was a six month program in versus seven weeks. And with that the launched it a little over a hundred thousand dollars in sales.
Melissa Guller (23:16):
Wow. And between those two, obviously you had the experience from launch number one, but are there strategies or approaches that you think are different when you start to move your price point up into that slightly higher range?
Luisa Zhou (23:29):
Yeah. So the way that shift really happened naturally for me was I thought about what would make it worth it at this price point. Actually no, let me take a step back. I didn’t start thinking, you know, what’s the price point going to be? I started with what I want to teach. And so for the first seven week program, it was all right, what’s the smallest course I can offer and deliver a value? So that I don’t have to create a six months course as my very first course and then once I realized it was going to be seven weeks, I thought, okay, what’s the no brainer price that I know I can deliver on? I can feel confident selling and knowing it’s going to be an incredible value and that’s how I came up with the about $300 price point. Once I thought, okay, now I’m ready to create this full on course that teaches everything I’ve done up to this point that you’re getting one on one clients replacing my job income with my business revenue before I even left my job, the maxing out my one-on-one client list, the doing a small group program, pours everything that I want to teach.
Luisa Zhou (24:23):
I just want to teach it all. What amount of time do I need to do that? And for me that felt like, okay, six months is a good amount of time because I want to give people not only all the details and teach them everything I can, but also give them enough time to implement. So I didn’t want to do like seven weeks to do all of this cause that’s not feasible to get it all done. And then I thought, okay, if I back into that, what, what is the value that I feel good about charging for this? That both feels good to me so that I’m not thinking, Oh my gosh, I’m charging peanuts for my work and start resenting my work. But also that feels like I can go out there and sell it and know and be in a hundred percent confidence that this is going to deliver the heck out of the investment. People are going to get 10 20 a hundred X their investment. And so that was just something I, I mean I didn’t have like a scientific method for this. I just thought through those things and came up with about, I believe it was like 2,500 to $3,000 price point for six months. And also knowing that I would continue to be delivering the value I had in my previous courses and with previous clients where I’d probably be showing up every day during the week. That number was what felt right to me on all levels.
Melissa Guller (25:32):
That was such a helpful walk through. I think the price point can be very paralyzing for a lot of course creators. I know that we want there to be this magic calculator solution and you know at Teachable we sometimes do talk about a calculator that we have on our website, but ultimately I think it’s going to come down to you feeling like for the time and energy and knowledge that you’re putting in. You believe that it’s a fair price to be getting out of it. But I will say at Teachable we often recommend that people double the price that they’re comfortable with because we found that a lot of people do tend to slightly undercharge for their value. Yeah,
Luisa Zhou (26:08):
No, absolutely. I completely agree and I love that you mentioned that because to be honest, even though I knew this was an incredible value, it’s still feel a little bit uncomfortable talking, going from like a $300 price point to a 20 $503,000 price point. I remember thinking, is this too high? Are people going to buy? But what I really did to do that was I pushed myself a little bit because I, I knew how much value I was going to deliver. I knew I was committing to this first six months, so I looked at how does this compare to the value that other courses in my industry delivering. So I looked for proof that up what I was thinking, right, and I saw, okay, other courses are maybe four weeks long. The course creator may be not be nearly as involved as I am and they’re charging two, 3000 so I know that feels really good to me. I know my one-on-one is much higher than this. I know I’m going to be in the group every single day answering people’s questions. I know I’m going to show the heck up for people and so I just like pushed myself a little bit, but then also looked for the proof and kind of coached myself a little bit into meeting that stretch price in a way that felt really good.
Melissa Guller (27:14):
Yeah, I think it’s like you’re saying, it’s a balance between knowing that the price point makes sense based on what the industry is telling me, what competitors are telling me, but also for the value that I know I’m providing. So you can’t just decide, you know, I’m worth $10,000 here you go everyone. But if you’re in the kind of industry and topic where that makes sense, then maybe that does make sense as a price while maybe for other industries, depending on what your teaching, you know 2,500 may never be feasible for you depending on what your course is about. Exactly. So after your second launch, I already like kind of know where this story is going. You had not just a $100,000 launch, but an absolutely obscene $800,000 course launch. And I want to hear every single thing about that. So can you tell us more about how you did that third course launch and then ultimately the scaled that meant you hit the million dollar Mark?
Luisa Zhou (28:07):
Yes. Okay. So the couple of really important things that I want to note about this. Like so this was all within a year. It happened really quickly. How ever. What’s really important to note is that this was my third launch and what that meant was I basically tested the waters bit by bit and built up to that with each lunch before, and I kind of touched on this earlier, I was playing with the strategy. I was like, okay, what works? What doesn’t? I was testing a little bit of doing whatever I could to drive new people and signups during my launches, so I tested doing referral contests. I tested doing a small number of affiliates. I tested using paid advertising. I just tested everything I could think of to see, okay, what’s working best for me? I tested the challenge itself, like what prompts work the best, what format works the best.
Luisa Zhou (29:03):
I was obviously also working on my own marketing and sales skills through these launches as well, and so with all of that, I got to this point where I said, okay, I know my strategy works. I know this is a proven method for me. I know what I’m doing. It’s obviously delivering amazing client results. I am ready to go out there and see how big I can do this. Now, something I also want to note is when I was thinking that initially I was thinking, you know what? Maybe I’ll go for a double or triple what I did in my previous launch, so like 200 or 300,000 I wasn’t thinking, Oh, let me do $1 million. What actually happened? What was, I was talking to some mentors of mine and they said, you know, Lisa, why don’t you try to think bigger? Why not? What’s the worst that can happen if you fall short and you have a $300,000 launch?
Luisa Zhou (29:50):
I think you’re still going to be doing pretty well for yourself. And I thought, Oh, okay, that’s scary. And so bit by bit over a few weeks, that goal moved up. It went from 200 to 400 to 500 to 700 okay, well you know what? I like even numbers. Why not aim for a million? And so then what I did was, because I knew my numbers from my previous launches, I knew, okay, if I get this many people sign up for my challenge, this many people will probably buy and so on and so forth. I was able to reverse engineer. If I want to bring in about 300 people to hit $1 million launch, how many new leads do I need to drive? Where can I get them? If I know I can get this many through like a referral competition, this many through affiliates, this many through whatever, what do I need to make up for it and spending in paid advertising, for example, or whatever else I need to do.
Luisa Zhou (30:38):
And I mean, it was a crazy stretch number and so I mean, I just went for it. Alan, what happened was I implemented the strategy. Aim for the numbers each way. Just was really methodical about it. Showed the heck up and every single day I, you know, did my live streams and they ended up being about an hour, an hour and a half. I spent hours in my Facebook group every single day answering people’s questions for free, and I knew by the way, that not everyone was going to sign up. Even if they participated in the free challenge. I wasn’t thinking, Oh, let me be really focused on this or that. You know, I’m focused on people who they’re going to sign up. I just thought, look, I know how this works. If I show up, I deliver lots of value. The right people will join. Some people won’t, and that’s okay. They’re still going to get awesome results from the free stuff and what goes around comes around.
Luisa Zhou (31:27):
Right? Sooner or later they might just say, Hey, this was awesome. Thank you. And that’ll be a win as well. And so I just show the heck up. I kept my card open a little bit longer because I knew I just, I mean this was a really stretch goal for me. My audience at that time was just a few thousand people, which I mean, when you look at the numbers and the conversion rates, if you typically expect about 1% of your audience to convert. I needed a way bigger audience than I had at the time. And so I just believed, I showed up, I did everything I could, and then what happened was at the end of cart close, I didn’t hit $1 million for the launch, but I had crossed 800,000 and I mean not, not too bad, I’m not complaining at all. And what that did was through the previous launches and my one-on-one revenue, that brought me to over about 1.1 million in sales in that year.
Melissa Guller (32:20):
Absolutely insane. And I think that it’s so helpful to hear you walk through how you did the math because you had the proof from what you had done in the past. Like nothing is a better predictor of the future than what’s happened in the past to you and your business and the fact that you were able to see the different marketing channels and figure out what you would need to do in each of those to hit a number is not, you know, some massive secret. It’s kind of like I joke that people know how to get healthy, they just don’t want to do it. Kind of similar with this, we know we need to have a certain number of customers. If you want to hit a certain revenue goal and it’s not going to happen unless you kind of work backwards and do the math the way that you reverse engineered it.
Luisa Zhou (33:01):
Yeah, pretty much. I mean obviously there’s a lot of hard work involved and I never want anyone to think, you know, it’s quote unquote easy. But what I always say is that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated, right? Like it’s doable. One step at a time.
Melissa Guller (33:16):
[Inaudible] I think easy and complicated and differentiating those is huge because I don’t think anything about having an online course business is necessarily easy. I think that the only people who succeed are the ones who really commit and acknowledge that it’s going to involve work. That said, it doesn’t have to be like this massive convoluted, crazy automated marketing machine. There are ways like you were talking about just to show up and be useful, that will end up starting to pay dividends over time.
Luisa Zhou (33:46):
Exactly. And I love that you said that and I want to point out I had nothing automated in my first year of business. Everything was very much show up, talk to people, connect, you know, do the work and then the automation will follow.
Melissa Guller (33:59):
Hmm, great point. So you’ve now scaled to a million, which is insane. And obviously as part of your business as well and what you teach, you get to help a lot of students succeed as well. So I’d love to have you just share a little bit more about what are some of your best tips for creating a course from scratch, even if people are super busy or aren’t very technical at all.
Luisa Zhou (34:25):
Yeah. So I love that you mentioned those caveats because I just want to point out first, you know, when I was built my first online business, I had a job and it was at a tech startup. So crazy, pretty crazy hours, right? And not being super tech savvy. Even though I am an engineer by training, it’s not like, you know, we’re taught how to do anything technical in rigor with regards to setting up a website or buying a domain name or doing any of that. So I mean it’s calm. It felt really complicated. I remember spending days wondering, okay, how do I, after I buy a domain name, how do I actually transition into setting up as a website? You know, this was like quite a few years ago when there wasn’t as much information around online to to help you. And so I want to just really emphasize that, that those are okay things to start with and most of us do now, what I would recommend is really starting with the easiest thing, which is working with a handful of people privately, individually.
Luisa Zhou (35:26):
And what that does is it helps you do a few things first. It allows you to go out there and get proof of concept, get some revenue in your business without necessarily having to start from, okay, let me spend a few weeks, months creating a course for us when I don’t even know if people are going to want it. I don’t know how to sell it and it’s just way easier. And then through doing that, what you’re going to do is just like what I did, you’re going to basically after you, how about three to five clients, you’re going to start seeing patterns. Oh, every first call, this is what I talk about. These are the questions that come up, Oh, guess what? That’s your first module. And so through working with those clients, you’re basically getting paid to create your course so that you don’t have to, you know, do like a free beta course or anything like that.
Luisa Zhou (36:07):
That’s just so overwhelming for most of us. And then when you work with those one on one clients, you get testimonials as well. So you can say, Hey look, here are our client results using the exactly what I’m going to teach you in this course. And then once you’ve done that, and again, it can just be three to five clients, right? You do that, you go out there and then you’ve got your course, you’ve got testimonials, you know why people buy from you, you know how to market that, you know how to sell that and then you’re at a much better starting point. And the other thing I will say is when you’re starting out, what I do always love is what I did myself. When you’re starting from relative, basically scratch, you don’t have a large audience, you don’t have a ton of social proof online doing a challenge, right?
Luisa Zhou (36:53):
Which can be as simple as doing five daily live streams with simple prompts to help your audience get started so that they see you, they’re showing up, talking to them, right? Getting on quick calls with people who are interested in your program, not hiding behind social media posts or emails so that people can see you. And if you do that, that’s going to be so much more powerful than any fancy piece of email or a gorgeous course or any of those things that are actually way harder to create and are probably going to make you less sales, especially in the beginning.
Melissa Guller (37:26):
[Inaudible] And if people wanted to do a challenge the way that you did, how do you recommend that they find the right topic? Because five days, five, 10 days isn’t very long, but clearly you want to get some kind of outcome in the end. Yes. Okay. I love that you asked about this cause I
Luisa Zhou (37:43):
To share. So I’ll, I’ll start with the top things. So when I think about what you want to accomplish through your challenge, the key is you want to use it to help people overcome where they’re stuck, like their top objections, where they’re stock before they’re ready to move forward with your course. And I’m just gonna use myself as an example. So with my Employee to Entrepreneur chorus, it helps you build an online coaching business and get started and replace your income. So the top objections people have to that are, look, I’m in a job. I don’t know if I have enough time. I don’t know if I have a business idea. I’m an introvert. I don’t know how to get clients. And so what I did was even starting from the name we can empire, the idea was I’m going to address every single top objection that people have.
Luisa Zhou (38:28):
I started saying, Hey, you can start your business in just like a few hours a week. That’s what I did. I’m to teach it to you and maybe you only work on the weekends. Thus we can empire. And then what I did each day was I thought, okay, what’s the simplest way that I can help someone overcome an objection? So for example, one of the days is, Hey, if I can’t yet have a business idea, I can’t do this. I show people, look, it’s not about coming up with a business idea. You’re not trying to come up with the next Facebook or Amazon. All you need to do a business, no matter what type of business it is, you’re helping someone with the solution that they are willing to pay for. That’s all that is. And so let’s look at what skills do you have right now that could be that solution.
Luisa Zhou (39:13):
Is it something you do in your life? Like you know how to cook? Is it something that you’ve experienced, like a navigating your career? Is it something that you do in your job right now? Like me, Alan, the advertising? And so let’s identify all of the things that you have right now that could be a business. Let’s figure out which one you would enjoy enough to build into a business and then let’s move forward. And so, I mean, I condense that into a really kind of, you know something you can do in 15 to 30 minutes. Honestly, most of the time, 15 minutes a day for my challenge so that you’re start starting to get results. You’re starting to see making fast progress so that you’re seeing, Oh wow, this is possible. Because once you believe it’s possible, guess what? You are going to be excited and want to learn.
Melissa Guller (39:56):
I think that’s the key right there is helping people believe that the outcome is possible because without giving them those little wins along the way, not only might they be doubting, you know, who is this person? I don’t know them at all, but they’re probably also struggling with, can I even do this thing they’re claiming I can do
Luisa Zhou (40:15):
[Inaudible] I mean that’s so huge because I mean we all start there, right? I remember when I was first starting my like trying to figure out if I could even build an online business. I spent over three years looking at other people and be like, Oh, there must be something special about them. That’s just not me. I couldn’t do that. I have to stay in my job and it took me about three years of seeing all this other proof before I started thinking, Oh wait, maybe I could do this too.
Melissa Guller (40:42):
[Inaudible] I think a lot of us struggle with that too because a lot of people are, let’s call it louder on the internet. You see them everywhere and it feels like, Oh man, they’ve totally got the market nailed on that topic. But there’s plenty of space for more people with different experiences and different backgrounds and even a different way to approach the kind of challenge or course that we’ve been talking about. So hopefully people don’t feel like there’s no room left for them.
Luisa Zhou (41:10):
Yeah, I mean that’s so key. There’s always room for a different perspective. And I mean, when I think about this, there are two things I always say. First I use myself as an example. I mean the industry that I’m in has always been crowded. However, what I did was I saw a problem that wasn’t being solved like I years ago when I first started, no one was talking about how do you build a business while you’re in a job? All the people I saw, they were like, look, I just left my job and then I made it happen. Or I was straight out of college and I just lived with my parents and made it happen. And I remember thinking, neither of those are POS are good options for me. It’d be really foolish of me to give up this job and career. I’ve worked in salary I’ve worked so hard for, and I’m not going to put that financial burden on my parents by moving back in with them. And so that was a really specific problem that I knew, okay, I experienced this, I didn’t see anyone else talking about it. Even though it’s a very, there are a lot of people talking about this. And so I said, Hey, you know what? I believe I can do a really good job. And it’s really the same thing in any industry, no matter what industry you’re talking about, there’s always a slightly new and different perspective that only you can bring.
Melissa Guller (42:21):
[Inaudible] Such great advice. And kind of along the same note, after working with so many students, what are some of the things that you think set apart the successful students from the pack?
Luisa Zhou (42:34):
I love this question. Okay. So I have to say the most important one is, well, I mean there are two, but one of the most important ones is that commitment. Really being committed to seeing this through. Because, I mean, like I said, it took me three years before I even said, okay, maybe this is possible. And it took me a good while after that took me another year before I got a paying client. And so, and all that time it could’ve been really easy for me to say, all right, I give up. This is not, this is not happening. And even after that, I mean, there were so many obstacles and rejections along the way. Like when I was starting out getting one-on-one clients, there was a period where I spoke to 30 people in a row and they’re like, no, I don’t know you, you know, I can’t hire you.
Luisa Zhou (43:22):
I don’t, I can’t afford you. Like any objection that you’ve heard of, I’ve heard it. And when we just talked about earlier with my first launch, I didn’t have anyone join my course until three days before cart close. If I had given up, I definitely would. Who knows where I’d be. I’d probably, you know, be in a job or something. And so it really is that belief that okay, no matter what’s going on right now, no matter how hard it seems, I believe that I can get to where I want to go. Maybe it might take a little bit longer or a lot longer. It might be a little bit harder. It doesn’t have to be, but in this moment, no matter how hard it is, I’m committed to seeing this through because I know the impact, the life, the fulfillment, the income that I want on the other side of this is worth whatever it takes.
Luisa Zhou (44:04):
That is really the most important thing and I will say I’ve seen it at this point I’ve helped or I worked with thousands of students, right. That without fail, that is the number one thing. It does not matter how, I mean like in the grand scheme of things relative to this, I have not seen like what your starting out income is, how much time you have or how little time you have, how introverted you are, how charismatic you are, how good you are at marketing or sales. Like. Sure. Those things can be advantages, but they cannot compare to having this commitment and belief in yourself in your dreams.
Melissa Guller (44:39):
[Inaudible] That’s so inspiring to hear and thank you for sharing that. And hopefully listeners too can get the sense of, you know, that’s something within my control is choosing to commit to something and when things don’t work to adapt or to try new things and to stick it out because that’s something that all of us can choose to do no matter our starting point. Yes.
Luisa Zhou (44:59):
Every single day. And I I know saying this, it can feel like, Oh, Luisa, you know, maybe it’s easy for you to say now, but I cannot emphasize enough, right. Everything I just shared, there were so many days, one after another months, years one after another where I would wake up or I remember I had this gray couch when I was in my job. I would come home, sit on this gray couch and just look out the window and just ask myself, am I making mistake? Like am I wasting my life? Right? Because maybe I should be focusing on my career and moving forward. And that even more because it’s a proven thing. I’m obviously already doing well, is this just a pipe dream for years? Right? And then through all the rejections, thinking, what the heck am I doing? Am I ever going to get another client?
Luisa Zhou (45:41):
And so through all of that, all of that, I promise I have been there. It’s just making that decision. Every time you’re thinking, Oh, is this, is this possible to see, okay, well let me take a step back. Is this dream still worth it to me? And if so, then what can I do right now? Aside from just feeling hopeless and you know, eating some ice cream if you need to do that, do it, feel into it, but then pull yourself back up and think about, all right, what can I do? What can I learn from this that’s going to help me grow and move forward?
Melissa Guller (46:10):
[Inaudible] Amazing advice. And as we start to wrap up and thinking about growing and moving forward, I’d love to hear more about how else has your business grown and evolved and what do things look like for you today? Yeah.
Luisa Zhou (46:22):
So it’s very different at this point. I’m, I don’t know, like five, six years into this business. So it’s been quite a journey. I mean that that amount of time, the online space is like several lifetimes. Right, exactly. And so over the years, I mean, a lot of things have happened. Obviously my audience has grown. I’ve established a really great solid reputation and brand where people know, Hey, Luisa shows up all the time that we say is constantly giving incredible free content. Luis has courses are awesome and she’s been around, right? So that’s something that has just built up bit by bit over the years, just through me showing up. My business also looks different at this point. I definitely do have a lot of automated things. I’ve got the automated funnels, I’ve got all of those things that eventually at some point you might want to set up in your business.
Luisa Zhou (47:17):
I’ve got a much bigger team of contractors. So at this point I’m only focused in my business on connecting with people, coaching, sharing content, maybe creating courses and the rest someone else handles for me because I stay in my zones of genius. That being said, just a small reminder, I didn’t, you know, start outsourcing that until well into my first year and some things I didn’t outsource until two, three years into my business. So that was definitely an evolution and at this point my focus is just continuing to connect with more and more people continuing to create more courses as I grow more in my business. Right. Talking about what’s, what’s it like behind the scenes of running a really systematized business, the evolution of my business over the first five, six years and just continuing to grow with my audience along the way.
Melissa Guller (48:06):
[Inaudible] And what are some things that you’re excited about when you think about the future of your business and your students and where it’s all headed?
Luisa Zhou (48:14):
Something I’m really excited about is just where this industry is going. I think there’s more and more momentum. More and more people are starting to see the possibility for themselves are trying. Ours are also starting to accept that it’s normal. It’s a thing to be coached to invest in online courses. Because I mean I remember the way it was when I very, very first started even becoming aware of the industry. I feel like this was maybe eight, 10 years ago. It really was not so much a thing as crazy as it might be it I believe. Oh wow. It was so different 10 years ago. I remember just seeing some random websites that, I mean seemed really basic and I was like, is this for real? People are what? Freelancing and making a few hundred dollars a month. I mean that was the extent of it. And then when I started, that was just when coaching was really starting to get some momentum.
Luisa Zhou (49:01):
And even then people were would be, I would talk to a lot of people and they’d be like, what? What is coaching? What is consulting? You know, like is this something that only life coaches or certified people can do? And what about online courses? That very much didn’t feel like, okay, this is something that you can just do it to invest in yourself. Now though, with the evolution of all these platforms, companies like Teachable, like all of these people who are just taking their knowledge and sharing it with the world via an online course, it’s just so exciting to see it become more and more widespread and then people through seeing that proof, realizing the possibility for themselves. So I’m just really excited to continue being a part of that journey, helping more and more people and just seeing this become more and more mainstream where people are able to take control of their lives, right? Take control of their incomes, the way they make money while doing it in such a meaningful and impactful way and fulfilling for all of us as teachers and coaches to go out there and, and share that with as many people as possible.
Melissa Guller (50:07):
Absolutely. And so well said. So before we do go, I would love to have you share where can people connect with you or learn more, especially if they want to learn more about you and your course Employee to Entrepreneur.
Luisa Zhou (50:20):
Yes. so there are a few places. The one of the easiest places is if you go to my website and if you go to this URL you will get a great PDF I have on how to get started with your own six figure business and I do share a little bit more about Employee to Entrepreneur in that as well. So the URL is really simple. It’s LuisaZhou.com. If you go there, you’ll get that great PDF, you’ll join my email list, you’ll get lots of, lots of great emails from me. I’ve been, you know, sending almost daily weekday emails for the last five years and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. You can also find me on Instagram. I’m loving Instagram lately. I’m on there quite often. I check my DMs and my Instagram is just @Luisa.Zhou. And the final place that I share a lot of really great content. I public publish weekly free YouTube videos. I’m really in depth awesome tutorials on my YouTube channel, which is just again, if you just search youtube.com/c/LuisaZhou, again, just my name, you’ll find me there.
Melissa Guller (51:37):
Perfect. And I’ll make sure we include links to everything in the show notes so that people can follow up and continue to keep learning. And Louise has just been such an absolute pleasure to learn more. I’m feeling personally inspired to really get out there and see who I can help. So do you have any, just final words of wisdom or inspiration for our listeners today?
Luisa Zhou (51:56):
Oh my gosh, I mean so much. I’m so glad with everything we covered. Thank you for asking such great detailed questions. I would say with all of this, hopefully if you’re listening or feeling inspired and not overwhelmed, right, and just the most important thing to be honest, is to get started. Talk to someone today. Talk to, you know, identify one person who could benefit from what you have to share. Get them on the phone, talk to them, see what magic comes out of that, because there is no faster way to, or better way to get started to build your business, to see the possibility and to very possibly get some paying clients.
Melissa Guller (52:32):
Perfectly said. Well again, Luis said, a pleasure to learn more from you and I hope that our listeners do take your advice and start taking action. So thank you again for joining. Thank you.
Melissa Guller (52:46):
Thank you so much for joining us this week! You can learn more about Luisa, Employee to Entrepreneur, and Teachable in the show notes at teachable.com/eit21. Now before you go, we hope you’ll subscribe to our podcast so you can receive new episodes right when they’re released. You can either subscribe right in your favorite podcast app or you can sign up for email alerts at teachable.com/podcast. And if you are enjoying the show, I hope you’ll let us know. We love reading through your reviews in Apple Podcasts and if you have a minute spare, we’d love to read yours too.
On behalf of Team Teachable, we hope you enjoyed this episode about showing up and trying new things with Luisa Zhou. We’ll see you in the next episode of Everything is Teachable.
This podcast is produced by Teachable, where our mission is to empower creators to transform their knowledge into income. To date, we’ve helped over 80,000 online business owners build and sell their online courses and together they’ve earned over half a billion dollars and reached over 20 million students. To learn more, or to start creating your own online courses for free, visit teachable.com.