STEPH TAYLOR: “Then, we can think about, okay, longer term, building those foundations over time so that if you do decide to take a whole month off, the business is still profitable, and you still have that client satisfaction.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY PORTERFIELD: Oh, I'm so excited to tell you about this podcast that I think you should listen to. But to be quite honest, I think many of you are already listening. It's the Goal Digger Podcast by my girl Jenna Kutcher, and it's brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. So the Goal Digger Podcast helps you discover your dream career, with productivity tips, social strategies, business hacks, inspirational stories, and so much more. I love all of Jenna's episodes because they are the perfect mix of actionable-meets-candid conversations. She'll cover things like how to improve your website and your email copy to how to say “Screw it” to your morning routine. You’re going to love it. So listen to Goal Digger wherever you get your podcasts.
Well, hey, there, friend. Welcome back to another episode of Online Marketing Made Easy.
Are you ready for another episode? because today, oh my goodness, this is a good one. Today we're talking about something that you might be experiencing right this very minute, and that's feeling like your business is going to fall apart if you're not glued to your laptop 24/7. I have certainly felt this way before, and I can tell you that it's not what I had imagined entrepreneurship would look like when I first started my business.
One of the greatest, most-rewarding things about having an online business is that you can create something that can operate without you being there. And of course, having the ability to work from anywhere isn't a bad perk either. But all too often that dream of taking weeks off for that much needed vacation or, heck, even just taking a spa day never actually happens because you've built a business that cannot function without you being there.
And what I find so interesting about my guest today is that she has experienced this firsthand. She went from having an online business that literally put her in the hospital because she was working so much to having a business that allows her to experience true freedom with her time. And today she teaches people all over the world how to do just that.
Her name is Steph Taylor. She's a strategist who helps experts build profitable and sustainable online businesses that continue to grow even when they're offline. In just twelve months, she took her online business from being a one-hundred-thousand-dollar business to a one-million-dollar business, and the best part: it didn't come with the tradeoff of more hustle and more time. And get this: by creating a solid online business and sales engine, she was able to take weeks off to hike around the outback with a tent on her back, and she was able to be off the grid for a month in a camper van. How cool is that?
So if you're feeling like you're hustling around the clock in your business and you want so badly to experience the freedom that entrepreneurship can bring, then get ready for this insightful and inspiring conversation with my guest, Steph Taylor.
Hey, there, Steph. Welcome to the show.
STEPH: Amy, thank you so much for having me. I'm so—I can't even explain how excited I am to be here. Like, like I was saying before we hit Record, this has been on my vision board for at least five years, so thank you so much for having me.
AMY: Oh my gosh. I’m delighted. We've been really looking forward to having you. I mean, to see what you've done over the years has been just spectacular, and I've been paying close attention. And so I thought you've got to come on the show and kind of teach some of the things you've learned along the way because I know my audience is going to find this so valuable.
So I hinted in the beginning a little bit about you in my intro that you didn't hear, but I think it would be more valuable for my audience to hear from you. So can you kind of walk us through where you started in your business and kind of where you are today, just to give us a big picture?
STEPH: Yeah. So it's funny because as we're recording this, it's almost exactly seven years to the day that I handed in my four weeks’ notice.
AMY: Wow! Four weeks. I love it.
STEPH: And if you'd told me back then, seven years ago, what lay ahead of me, all of the ups and the downs, the whole rollercoaster ride, I actually don't know if I would have quit my job and done it, because I would have thought, “There's no way that I can do this. There's no way that I can handle that.”
AMY: Okay. I love that you just said that, and I don't think anyone's ever said that on my show, nor did I talk about that through my big book tour, my book, Two Weeks Notice, where if someone would have told me all the ups and downs, all the things I had to do to get to where I am today, I don't know if I would have quit. You are totally right. So it's probably good that we don't really know what's ahead of us when we quit our jobs and start our online business, because the rewards far exceed the pain. But geez, it's hard to—if you knew what you were up against, that's a hard decision to make.
STEPH: Exactly. And it's like, I would have thought, “There's no way I can do that,” but by taking it, by doing it, and by jumping before I even knew what was ahead of me, I kind of had no choice but to figure it out as I went. And I'm really glad that it happened that way around.
AMY: Ignorance is bliss, yes.
STEPH: Exactly. So these days, I am an online-business strategist. I work with online-business owners to turn their business into one that can be profitable when they disconnect, when they are offline. And as you know, you've followed me throughout the iterations, my business hasn't always been that way. Like, if I rewind even just to about five years ago, I was in a similar boat to you, actually, Amy, where I was a marketing consultant, I was working with a lot of clients one on one, and I thought I'd created the kind of business that I wanted. I could travel, and that was what I really craved.
So I booked this long trip. I booked this long trip to Europe, and I was standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, checking my emails, replying to a client emergency. And that was this point where I was like, “Hang on. What am I doing here? I've built this business that gave me the freedom I thought I wanted, but yet I feel anxious when I'm not at my laptop, and I'm constantly checking my phone.” And standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, there, checking my emails, responding to this email—my partner at the time, he was standing next to me, grumbling because he'd quit his job, and he was on, you know, he had no responsibility—and all these happy couples around us were enjoying the moment. And there I was, responding to a client emergency.
And on one hand, you know, I’d built this business. It gave me the flexibility, but on the other hand, I had constant anxiety because I couldn't leave my laptop. I had this guilt of, I should be working when I wasn't working. And when I was working, I had this guilt of, I’m in this beautiful city on the other side of the world, and here I am in my Airbnb, working. And it wasn't until I was on a yacht trip in Greece on that same holiday, standing on the edge of the boat, on my tiptoes, my arm up in the air, trying to find a little bit of cell service so I could send an email, and that was the point where I realized something needs to change.
So from that trip, when I got back, I started letting go of a bunch of my clients, and I started building those foundations of my business from the ground up. I pivoted. I niched. I did all of the different things. And then two years later, I thought, “Okay. This is it. I've got this all in place. It's not going to fall apart without me.” This was 2021, mid pandemic. I booked a van trip. I booked a camper van for a whole month, went off grid, drove down the country for thirty days, and nothing fell apart.
STEPH: It was such a relief. I mean, thirty days was quite a big, quite a big endeavor. I don't do things by half measures. Maybe a week off would have been a great way to test the business. But thirty days and it didn't fall apart. And it was just this reminder to me of, wow, once you have those foundations in place, everything can run really smoothly without you. And it's not about, you know, it hasn't ever been about, oh, I don't want to be in my business. It's been about, how can I find that balance between a business that needs me and a business that runs without me? And foundations, for me, have been the big difference in that. And now I'm on this path where I'm building this business that's so much more aligned with the vision for what I want to create.
I was able last year to take two weeks off to go hiking in the outback, with nothing but a little tent and a little stove on my back. No Wi-Fi, no phone service, nothing.
STEPH: And then I have this dream of one day walking—there's a trail from the top of the north island of New Zealand to the bottom of the south island called the Te Araroa. It takes about six months. And one day I'm going to do that.
AMY: Wow! I cannot wait till you do that. I can't wait to have you back on the show and you talk about, like, what you did to make that happen. That's a really amazing goal. I love that so much.
Okay. So I want to talk about these foundations that you were able to build in order to be able to unplug when you want to. But before we get there, you know, hindsight is 20/20. So can you tell us about some of the mistakes that you made in the first iteration of your online business that got you to the point that you were not able to unplug, and you're holding your phone up in the air on a yacht in Greece, trying to get Wi-Fi for a client. Like, that's exactly what we don't want to be doing. So how did you get there? What were some of those mistakes?
STEPH: Yeah. So I think I started out where every new service-based-business owner starts out, and this is a point where I was broke, and I was burnt out. I wasn't making enough money, but I was still working really, really hard. And when I look back in hindsight, I'm like, “Oh, I understand why that happened,” because I had—the things that I was selling, the offers I was selling were really low leverage. So you talk about this a little bit as well, Amy, obviously with courses, but everything I was selling was one on one. So it all required a lot of my time to impact one extra person. And then, also, everything I was offering was working towards a really low client lifetime value. So I was doing a lot of one on one client, just one-off projects.
And what I was doing was I was selling everything under the sun. So if somebody said to me, “Hey, Steph, do you do Google Ads?” “Yeah, of course I'll run your Google Ads.” Like, I could do them, so I just said yes to everything. And I ended up with all of these one-off, scattered projects, and I was exhausted. I was under charging, had no time, had no money.
So then I thought, “Okay. Well, maybe the solution here is to increase this lifetime value that I'm getting from my clients. I'm only going to take clients that want to work with me for at least three months.” And that fixed the broke problem, but it didn't fix the burnt-out problem. So now I was working with these one-on-one clients ongoing. They were paying me a little bit more than they were before, but it was taking up all of my time. And that's where I was when I had that moment on that boat in Greece.
After that, then, I let go of all my clients. Slowly, one by one, let go of all of them, and started creating this whole library of digital courses. And then I, as I was no longer burnt out, but now I was broke because I had really high-leverage offers, but I actually had really low lifetime value because there was no strategy behind what I was selling. I hadn't thought about, “Well, when somebody comes to buy my Facebook-ads course, what's the journey that I'm taking them on so that they then buy my Pinterest course, that then they buy my Instagram course?” I just thought that the solution was to create this big library of digital courses, and people would come and pick and choose, and they would come and buy them over time.
And I've seen a lot of people who land up in this position where I was in, where they're like, “I've got these great offers. They sell. But why am I still not making consistent income?” And it was because I was constantly having to try to get new people through the door. And this was also five years ago, four years ago, where Facebook ads were cheaper, social-media algorithms were nicer, it was easier to reach new audiences, and I was still struggling to get new people through the door consistently.
So I guess the big lesson from there was when I retired all of those digital courses, I got really intentional. I thought, “What is this bigger journey that I'm now taking somebody on, through all of the different things that I sell, so that I can have offers that are both high leverage—I have a mix of courses, programs, and one on one—and high lifetime value, so people are coming back. They’re not just buying one thing from me; they're coming back for the entire journey again and again?”
STEPH: And that was where I found really that sweet spot of, it's not taking a huge amount of my time to impact a lot of people, and I'm getting to impact them in a much deeper way than if they're just buying one course from me.
AMY: Oh, it makes perfect sense. So that actually leads me so perfectly into my next question. So when you were talking about frameworks in general and just, like, what has absolutely helped you to get to where you are today, I thought maybe if you could identify maybe three things you changed in your business, like, things that not only helped you, like, ten-x your revenue, but also helped you get your time back. So if you think about, like, those—you had to take just three of the best of the best, what would they be?
STEPH: Ooh. The first one is doubling down on my launches.
AMY: Ooh, okay. Tell me more.
STEPH: Yeah. So when I had that whole library of digital courses, I only ever launched them once. I think there was one that I maybe launched twice. But I would launch them once. I would say, “Oh, this one only made three thousand dollars or five thousand dollars in that launch. Let me just move on to the next one.” And I was looking for that magic product that was going to give me the big launch. And I didn't realize that the big launch came from repeating and doubling down and going through—
STEPH: Yeah. And you were a huge part in that learning, Amy. I was watching what you were doing, and I said, “Huh. She's launching the same thing multiple times a year. Let's try that.” And it wasn't until I launched my first—my first new course after I retired the entire library was actually an accident. It came from a lot of my friends asking me, “How do I start a podcast?” And I thought, “I don't want to be teaching all these people how to start a podcast. It's not really what I do. So I'm going to turn this into a little course, and you can all apply it and launch your podcasts.”
And the first launch of that was a two-thousand-dollar launch. And I thought, “Hang on. There’s maybe something here.” So I launched it again. I did another live webinar a few weeks later. That was another two thousand dollars. Then, I did another live webinar to a cold audience. I think that was maybe two or three thousand. And I kept repeating it, and eventually I thought, “This is working really beautifully. What’s going to happen if I put this on evergreen? What’s going to happen if I put this on just an automated funnel that doesn't need me there to sell it?” And then, twelve months later, that course sold eight hundred thousand dollars’ worth.
AMY: Eight hundred thousand dollars?! Okay, wait. The first time you launched it live, it was two thousand dollars, you said?
STEPH: Around there, yeah.
AMY: And I want to point something out. Some of you are launching, and two thousand dollars isn't enough, in your mind. Like, it's not good enough. So you don't ever launch again. And Steph just went from two thousand dollars to eight hundred thousand dollars with the same course because she didn't give up.
STEPH: In twelve months.
AMY: In twelve months. And you double—and that's huge. That's amazing—you doubled down on your launches. I love that, Steph. What a great example.
STEPH: And it was purely because I, then, could go back, and I could look, “Okay. This worked. This didn't work. This webinar title, people registered for this one, and they didn't register for that one.” And then being able to reinvest the profit that I made from each launch into Facebook ads to then grow it. And that was where I started to get that traction.
But then, that led me to a little bit of a pickle because I didn't have anything else, really, to sell people now. I'd created this course, I had ended up accidentally spending a good six to twelve months scaling this course, I had thousands of people who had come through it who wanted something else, and I had nothing else to sell them. So in hindsight, I could have been a lot more strategic. I could have thought about, what's that next step for those people? But it took me about two years, then, to dial in, what’s that whole journey that somebody’s coming through? If they buy that podcast and course, what's the next step in my business? So getting really clear on what I sold and what that journey is, that's the second thing that started to really move the needle.
And I think the third thing was my team and systems and processes, getting all of that dialed in, because when you go from having a two-thousand-dollar launch to then suddenly selling eight hundred thousand worth, you're selling thousands and thousands, customer support becomes quite important. All of the things that were a little bit painful at the two-thousand-dollar mark become really, really painful at the eight-hundred-thousand-dollar mark.
So figuring out who needs to be doing what in my business. How can I get customer support off my plate? That was the very first thing that I delegated off my plate because that was exhausting, it was draining, and it was something somebody else could do quite easily. And then starting to bring in somebody into that integrator role, bringing in all of the software and the systems and the processes that we needed to be able to run sustainably as a business.
AMY: Ah. So fantastic. You know, you talk about systems and processes, and I really do think that is one of the most important foundational pieces. So can you share some top tips for creating these processes and these systems that allow you to step away from your business stress free? because a lot of my listeners are not really sure how to even get started or which processes and systems they even need to create.
STEPH: Yeah. And look, I have never been a systems or processes person. My brain doesn't normally think that way. So when we're thinking about stepping away from a business, we want to think about, okay, what is the goal? Well, the goal is to pass what I call the off-grid test, where you can be offline and your client satisfaction is still high and your profitability is still high. If one of those is missing, you don’t pass the off-grid test. If your clients are unhappy and your business is profitable while you’re offline, no, that’s not good. If your business isn't profitable, but your clients are happy while you're offline, still not good. So we want to get both of those things.
And we can look at it from two ways. We can look at it from short term. Right now, I'm about to go—I'm about to take two weeks offline, and I don't have all of these foundations in place, how can I make sure my business keeps running without me? So in that case, we want to look at what needs to happen while I'm away. What are all of the things? What are the podcast episodes that need to go out? What are the emails to my list that need to go out? What are the client projects that need to be done? What are the emails that need to be replied to while I'm away? And for each of those things, we can either prepare them ahead of time. We can batch podcast episodes, batch emails to the list. We can do client work ahead of time. We can delegate it. Somebody in the team can manage that inbox. We can automate it. There’s a lot of software out there that can automate these things. Or we can decide not to do it. We can delete it. We can say, “Okay. Well, while I'm away, I'm just going to pause my podcast for three weeks because I haven't had the time to set up all those foundations. And it's really important to me that I'm offline in two weeks’ time for two weeks.”
Then, we can think about, okay, longer term, building those foundations over time so that if you do decide to take a whole month off, the business is still profitable, and you still have that client satisfaction. And that’s, really, starting to, then, think about, what is the longer vision? What do I want to be doing in my business, longer term? What do I not want to be doing in my business anymore? Do I want to be the person replying to customer-support emails? No, I really don't want to be. Great. Now we can put an action plan in place to get that off my plate. We can think about how we might delegate that, how we might create systems around that so that somebody else can go and do that. We might hire a person, we might put a system in place, or we might decide something that I don't want to do and maybe the business doesn't want to do anymore; we're going to delete that. So either a person, a system, or delete it. And this isn't something that can happen super quickly. It's something that's a bit of a process over time.
It also means getting your sales processes to run without you. So maybe having some evergreen funnels there where you can continue to bring income and sales in even when you're not there. Maybe having some marketing processes that run without you. Maybe making sure that your podcast is still running and growing even when you're not at your laptop.
So there's a whole lot of different pieces to put together for that longer term, but it might feel like a really big gap. But it happens in stages. It's like, you know, a great analogy I like to think of is, like, a bicycle. You know, you're riding a bicycle, and you're pedaling everything. And where you're at in your business, you're probably, when you stop pedaling, the business stops.
Then maybe the next stage is, like, an e-bike, where you might have a VA or, like, one or two people in your team who can support you in the pedaling, but they can’t do it forever. The battery's going to run out at some point.
Then, the next sort of iteration is you've got a car. Great. The car's driving itself. You put your foot on the accelerator, and the engine just takes it. But you still need to be steering it. You still need to be watching the road, putting the power on the brakes.
And then, finally, we have that self-driving car, where it's doing everything for you. That's the eventual goal. But it's not like you're just going to go from a bicycle to a self-driving car straight away. You have to start putting all of those things in place, and then, eventually, you get there.
AMY: Such a good analogy. I love that, Steph. Yes, yes, yes.
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You know, when you were talking, it made me think about team. So obviously, as you're starting to build your business—and I've got people that are brand new to business building listening now and those who have been at it for years. So they’re kind of all over the place on this podcast. We’ve done a lot of surveying to find out who this audience is. And so some people are listening and they haven't yet started to build their team. And one of the questions they ask is, like, “Who's the first hire I need to make to get me closer to this?” I get that question a lot because you probably can't take a month off your thriving business without a team, right? if it's just you. I'm assuming business or team building is a big part of this.
STEPH: Yes, absolutely. But I think people think that they need to have a massive team to be able to take that time off. And when I took a month off, it was really just me and my VA.
STEPH: Yeah. And it's only since then that we've started to grow the team a little bit more. I only hired my first permanent employee about twelve months ago, eighteen months ago. So it wasn't like I had this big team to support me when I was offline.
AMY: That's great for some people to hear. So you do suggest maybe first hire a virtual assistant?
STEPH: Yeah. And so my virtual assistant, she actually started with me before I had that massive bit of growth, which was so lucky because I had her in a role where she was, you know, she was scheduling social media for me. She was doing pretty graphics for me. And then suddenly, when everything started to grow really quickly, it wasn't that difficult to say, “Actually, hey, can we pause? You don't need to do the social media any more. Please put your hours towards customer support right now because that's where we need you the most.” And I already had that relationship with her. Like, she's still part of my team. And it was so much easier than suddenly trying to scramble to find someone and then potentially hiring the wrong person because I was just desperate.
AMY: Yes. Such great point there. I love that. And I hope that gave a lot of people listening a lot of hope. Like, “Wait a second. I don't have to have a big business or twenty full-time employees like Amy has in order to start taking more time away from the business.” You can absolutely do it with a small team, so I'm glad that you put that out there.
Okay. So I want to switch gears just a bit because you have a podcast—speaking of teaching people how to podcast—you have a podcast called Imperfect Action—I love the name, by the way—and I was hoping that you could share a little bit about the meaning behind that. Like, what are some tips of taking imperfect action, and why do you even think that's important?
STEPH: Mm. Okay. So I rebranded—my podcast was originally called Socialette, which was a really cute name for a bite-sized social-media podcast. But then as soon as I started changing direction, I realized, actually, this doesn't suit the podcast anymore. So the name Imperfect Action, that came from me sitting there brainstorming, what do I think has been the secret to success in business? And imperfect action, honestly, I think that has been the secret.
It has a double meaning, though, because the podcast itself was actually imperfect action. I started my podcast back in 2018, when I was in between international trips. I was actually in my—I'm staying at home with my parents in my teenage bedroom when I recorded the first ten episodes. I had a terrible microphone. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea what the next ten episodes were going to be, let alone what the next six hundred, and I think we’re six hundred fifty episodes now. I had no idea what any of that was going to be. But again, if you'd told me what the whole journey was going to have ahead of me, I don't think I would have done it. So I'm glad I just jumped in and took that imperfect action. Otherwise, I never would have got my podcast off the ground.
So tips for imperfect action. I think the first big one to have in mind is you build confidence by taking action, not by planning and preparing.
I recently got back from a trip over to the U.S., and you guys drive on the wrong side of the road, right? And every time I've been to the U.S., I've managed to avoid driving. I've always managed to Uber places, fly places, get public transport. I've never had to rent a car. But for this trip, I wanted to go to Sedona, and I knew, well, the only way I'm going to get to Sedona is to actually fly to Phoenix, rent a car, drive two hours on the wrong side of the road to Sedona. And I was a little bit scared. I actually wasn't quite sure if I was going to go. I was like, “Oh, maybe I should just stay in a city so I don't have to rent a car.” I rented a car. I decided I'm going to do it. I rented a car, started Googling “how to drive on the right-hand side of the road.” What do I need? Like, what give-way rules, what yield rules do I need? All of the different things.
And the more I researched it, the more I actually became afraid of what was waiting for me. And I was overthinking. And as soon as I sat in that car, I realized, “Well, now I have no choice. I just have to figure this out.” And what I had thought was going to be the hardest part was staying on the right-hand side of the road. That wasn't actually even difficult. The hardest part was staying in the middle of the lane when you're sitting on the wrong side of the car. So I couldn't have even prepared for the thing that I thought was going to be hardest. And two hours after sitting in that car, I was so confident driving, all because I just figured it out along the way.
And I think that's very much the same with business. Like, you have to just do it, and you'll get confident as you keep doing it, as you create that feedback loop for your brain of, I did the thing, and I didn't die. Great. Now we can keep doing the thing and feel more confident about it next time.
STEPH: I guess the next big tip is trust that when it doesn't go to plan, you will be able to figure it out—
AMY: This is a big one.
STEPH: —because it's not going to go to plan 100 percent of the time.
STEPH: But you are so much more resilient than you think you are, and you will just come up with—you'll think on your feet, and you'll come up with some plan instead.
And then, the third one is to start to notice when you're overcomplicating, when you're making something harder than it needs to be. So Tim Ferriss has this wonderful book called Tribe of Mentors, and at the start of the book, he talks about how when he sat down to write the book, he couldn't—it was going to be quite challenging for him to do it, and he was overcomplicating it. And he asked himself this one question: what would this look like if it were easy? And based on that question, he, then, created this whole book where he was simply just interviewing people who were killing it in their space, and he turned that into a book, rather than sitting down and writing this big, long thing from scratch.
So noticing where you might be overcomplicating and asking yourself, “What would this look like if it were easy? Or flipping it and saying, “What would the easiest version of this look like?” You can always come back, you can always iterate, you can always make it better later, but what would the easiest version of this look like right now?
AMY: Yes. I am a huge fan of that. I can definitely overcomplicate things. I think, to kind of tell on myself a little bit, I was just with my leadership team this last week, and we were looking at a process that we had put together. And all of us said, “We have overcomplicated this. There are way too many steps.” We tend to do more versus less, and I believe less is more. And so I love this question, how can I make this easy? Such a good one, for sure.
You know, along those same lines of, like, taking imperfect action, what mindset do you think entrepreneurs need to embrace in order to find the sort of success that they dream of?
STEPH: Ooh, I think failure is a huge one that we need to embrace. Like, failure is part of the journey. But when you're starting out and when you're new in the online-business world, it's very easy to think that if you have a little failure, it means you're not cut out for what you're doing, whatever you're dreaming of. And I actually think, no, failure is an essential part of the journey. We don't hear about it that much online. The only time we hear about it is when it fits into the narrative that somebody's trying to tell the bigger-picture narrative, right?
For example, on this podcast, I haven't talked about my first business that failed right after I quit my corporate job, because it hasn't been relevant to any of the points that I've been trying to illustrate here. So we can often, as a listener, we can listen to this and be like, “Oh, well, she hasn't had any big failures, and I have. So, therefore, maybe I'm just not as good at business as this person.” And that's not true. We just don't see the whole entire big picture. And in hindsight, you know, I'm really glad my first business failed, because that taught me a lot of the things that I needed in my second business to succeed, right? My first business was e-commerce, so it was a completely different world. But even though it wasn't related, I still was able to take a lot of those lessons from the failures and implement them to make this business successful.
I was in Barcelona a few years ago, and I remember being in the Picasso Museum. And I don't know if you're familiar with his work, Amy, but his early work looked nothing like what the famous Picasso paintings we've seen look like.
STEPH: I think he painted over fifty thousand, or he had fifty thousand pieces over his lifetime.
AMY: I didn't know it was that much.
STEPH: It was that much. And he needed to have all those fifty thousand. Most of them we wouldn't even recognize. And he needed to have those early failures to develop his style into that thing that we know now, that style that we know now. Without that, he wouldn’t be the famous artist that we know.
So embracing failure, embracing those lessons, and allowing that to be part of the journey, I think that's a huge one.
Allowing yourself to be a beginner is another one. We jump into things. If we're an overachiever—guilty—we tend to jump into something and we expect to be the expert or expect to be really good at it straight away. And we skip the beginning steps because we think, “Nope, I'm too good for this. I don't need to do this basic thing. I'm just going to jump ahead.”
I've been trying to learn how to surf for, like, fifteen years now because my pride won't let me paddle in the unbroken waves and catch the unbroken waves. I was like, “No. I'm going straight out to the big ones at the back.” And I've never been able to learn because my pride just keeps getting in the way because I don't want to do lessons. I just want to get straight out there and figure it out. And that's where I notice a lot of people going wrong, skipping those early steps.
And then, the third one is prioritizing the long game over the short-term wins. It's very attractive to do a Reel that gets thousands of views because it feels like that instant hit of, this is working. Like, yes, people are going to—I'm doing something. I'm reaching people. But then in the long term, that Reel doesn't really give us results. Instead, you know, spending a little bit more time creating a lead magnet to grow your list, that's going to deliver longer-term results than one Instagram Reel that might take three hours to create and edit. And you can do a significant chunk of your lead magnet in three hours.
It also might look like saying no to a potential client because you know that now, if you say no to that client, you've got an extra five hours a month that you can put towards building that digital course you've been wanting to build. And over the longer term, that's going to bring you more revenue. But in the short term, it's going to feel hard because you're saying no to potential income.
So prioritizing that long game over the short game, I think not enough people do that, and I think it’s such an important part of the mindset when you’re going into it.
AMY: Steph, these insights are so good. They're really hitting home for me, and I know that they are for my students and listeners because I know them so well.
Going back to the one before the last, for those of you who listen to all my podcast episodes, you know I did one on starting from scratch and this idea of the capacity for zero. And I loved what you said about having a beginner's mind. In your example of not being able to learn to surf because your ego is in the way, that is something that comes up in business a lot. I'm not willing to look like a beginner, act like a beginner, be seen as a beginner, so I'm going to try to jump ahead, and then it doesn't work out, and so whatever it is you're trying to create. So I love that you said that, and I just wanted my listeners to take that episode I just did about capacity for zero. Steph just perfectly illustrated what I meant by that. So thank you for that.
STEPH: And I think, also, that even applies when—I see students coming through my online courses who skip module one because they're like, “Oh, module one's going to be the basics. I don't need that.” And it's like, No, hang on. The basics, you need the basics because those basics form the foundation for everything else.
STEPH: So just because you think you're above them doesn't mean you can skip them.
AMY: Amen. I say that to my students all the time who go through Digital Course Academy. Just because you've been around for a while and you've done really great things in your business, go into it with a beginner's mind. You will absolutely realize you're skipping steps if you don't. And so I'm a huge believer in that.
This has been so fantastic. So before I let you go, I'm just curious, like, what are you working on right now? Or what are you most excited for? Do you have a big trip coming up? Like, what's your next chapter?
STEPH: Yeah. I mean, I always have trips coming up. Like, I have to have a flight or a trip planned, otherwise I get a little bit bored. I'm a little bit like, what am I looking forward to?
STEPH: So I do have a few trips planned. I'm coming to the U.S. again for three or four weeks in August and September, so I'm really excited for that. But at the moment, my whole focus is going into my new program. I'm three months into teaching my brand-new twelve-month program. And for me, twelve months, committing to that was really scary. I thought, “What if I change my mind? What if I don't want to do this in twelve months’ time? What if? What if? What if?” and realizing as soon as I committed to it, realizing, wow, I can help my students on a much deeper level over that longer period of time than I can in a twelve-week or an eight-week course. So at the moment, my focus is going into teaching that, serving my students, and I'm just loving it so much more than I thought I would.
AMY: Nice! I love starting something new and trying something new and then absolutely falling in love with it. So that is exciting.
And also, where can my listeners find out more about you?
STEPH: Yes. So you can listen to Imperfect Action podcast. Search “imperfect action” in any of the podcast apps, wherever you get your podcasts. And I would love to connect with you on Instagram. I'm over there, @stephtaylor.co. And I actually have a free gift for your listeners. If you're an Online Marketing Made Easy listener and you DM me on Instagram, I'll send you my free three-part mini course that I'm actually only ever giving to Online Marketing Made Easy listeners. It's called “Escape the Revenue Rollercoaster,” and in it you'll be able to diagnose exactly what is keeping your business stuck in that cycle of the ups and the downs of income, like I was, back when I was standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, replying to client emails. And in it you'll also be able to uncover the strategy for that office sweet spot, where you've got that high leverage and that high lifetime value. So you can grab that by DMing me on Instagram, OMME.
AMY: Awesome. Perfect.
Well, thank you so much, Steph. I really appreciate you jumping on with us today.
STEPH: Thank you so much for having me, Amy. I'm so excited I can take this one off my vision board.
AMY: I love that the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast was on that vision board. I feel so honored. So thanks again, and have a wonderful week.
STEPH: Thank you, Amy.
AMY: Oh, my goodness. I think you'll probably agree with me when I say that was such an inspiring conversation. I think we could all put ourselves in Steph shoes. We've been where she was. And many of you listening right now, you want to move far away from that feeling of being tied to your business 24/7. And I think she gave a lot of really great mindset shifts to help you do just that.
I personally loved that she hit on something that I teach over and over again in Digital Course Academy, my program that I offer every September, and that is that I want you to create an asset that you can launch over and over again, whether that be once or twice a year live launching and then also on evergreen, or maybe live launching in the beginning and moving it to evergreen, whatever that might mean for you. The secret sauce here is something that I've said over and over and over again, and I love that Steph said it as well. And for the record, Steph is a Digital Course Academy alumni and success story, so she's been through the program. What I loved that she said, the most, is that she really got good at launching something over and over again, and she could test titles for webinars, and she could try out different subject lines for emails, and when they worked, she could double down. When they didn't work, she had time to tweak and refine and make better but not jump ship. And so, so many people launch something once and then move on to the next thing. And part of her amazing success, moving to a million-dollar business, is that she kept her eye on one thing long enough to really optimize it. And that, I could sing from the rooftops, and, essentially, I have for years.
So I hope you walk away from this episode feeling inspired and realizing that you can always change how you do business and how you show up. And some really strong frameworks to do so will help you get there, and I think this episode, with the tips that she shared, is your first step to moving forward. But you got to take action. So maybe take one thing that you learned here today and put it into practice right away so that you get into action because, as you know, action creates clarity.
All right, my sweet friends. I can't wait to see you again same time, same place, next week. Bye for now.