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Why you HAVE to graduate from Solo to Virtual CEO

By David Ziembicki - January 13, 2020

If you're an online expert course creator, coach, or consultant, you may be making a critical mistake that's killing your odds for success and growing your online business.

And that mistake is staying solo for too long.

Now, this is a mistake I made myself. It went on for a couple of years. It takes a bunch of different forms, but basically has the same end result, which is no growth or very slow growth. Also spending tons of time, money and effort with nothing to show for it. What do I mean by staying solo for too long? What I mean is, thinking that you have to learn everything yourself, do everything yourself.  It's thinking you have to produce everything yourself, support your audience and your customers yourself.


In this episode. I'm going to show you five reasons why you need to graduate from solo to virtual CEO if you want to be successful in your online business.

Hey everybody, Dave Ziembicki here from the Expert Business Agency. If you're an online expert course creator, coach, or consultant, you may be making a critical mistake that's killing your odds for success and growing your online business and that mistake is staying solo for too long. Now, this is a mistake I made myself. It went on for a couple of years. It takes a bunch of different forms, but basically has the same end result, which is no growth or very slow growth, spending tons of time, money and effort with nothing to show for it. Now what do I mean by staying solo for too long? What I mean is, is thinking that you have to learn everything yourself, do everything yourself, produce everything yourself, support your audience and your customers yourself. Any version of you having to do everything is a giant mistake and trying to grow your online business.

Now in this episode I'm going to cover five reasons why you need to graduate from solo to what I call virtual CEO. And if you stick around to the end, I've also got a little bit of a bonus section, where I'm going to show you some ways to do exactly that. So what is a virtual CEO? It's a leader, not a doer. It's a mindset and a way of organizing your business and starting to build a team around yourself that can perform all of the different functions and tasks that are required for you to be successful in an online business. Now, a virtual CEO is what a lot of you think that you will be in a couple of years once you are successful. But the most important point that I want to make in this episode is a virtual CEO is what you need to be right now in order to be successful.

So here are five reasons why you need to graduate from solo to virtual CEO. And the first is that success requires far too many skills than any single person has. So if you've been trying in this game for any amount of time, you've already run into many different roadblocks, whether it's technology, marketing, advertising, webinars, email lists, groups, community management. If you've wrote down and you sat even just for 10 minutes and wrote out all of the different categories of tasks that need to be done in order to be successful, let alone all of the tasks within them, you'll quickly realize that 95% of them are outside of your area of expertise. There are just far too many skills to learn in order to be successful yourself in any kind of a timeframe. Yeah. If you want to defer success for 10 or 15 years and go off and learn all of this stuff, you know, that's a mistake that most people make is definitely a mistake that I've made.

I have wasted several years and tens of thousands of dollars of courses bought, trying to learn all of the different skills of of online business. Okay. Huge mistake. Huge cost. And again, it stems from being solo for too long. Instead of thinking about how could I find other people with these skills to do those things for me. And the difference there is really time. Okay, so what I mean by that is if you are not technical, it's going to take you five to 10 times longer to do every technical task compared to an expert or a specialist in that area who can do them in a matter of minutes because they've done it hundreds of times before. It's just one of the easiest illustrations of why it's a big mistake to stay solo, to try and learn all of this stuff and do all of these things yourself. The second reason why you need to graduate from solo to virtual CEO is even if you had all of the skills in the 30 or 50 different areas of online business that you need to know to be successful, even if you had the skills, even if you were an expert, it still takes more time than any single person has to go do those tasks.

Even if you can do them quickly, even if you know exactly what to do, it still takes too much time, more than any person has in a week, no matter how productive they are. And again, this is another mistake that I've made that I'm kind of relaying to you. I am an expert on productivity. I am a very productive person. I've been building businesses alongside of a very successful corporate career, and regardless of how good you are, a productivity, there are not enough hours in the week, even if you are working every single hour, 24 by seven to do all of the tasks required to be successful yourself. So the first two were skills and time. Nobody has the skills and nobody has the time to be truly successful by themselves. The third reason why you need to graduate from solo to a virtual CEO is that no single person can create enough content and marketing assets by themselves in order to be successful.

Now what I mean by that is you've seen a lot of the people in your feeds that are experts, that are successful in building their online businesses and what you'll see is they're putting out dozens and dozens of pieces of content every day. They're providing value to their audience. It's keeping them front of mind with people. The environment has gotten so competitive that you have to be producing a lot of valuable content at scale in order to build and sustain an audience. Now, you probably wonder to yourself, well, how do they do that? How does Gary Vaynerchuk create hundreds of pieces of content a day? Right? How do some of the other experts that you follow do Facebook and Instagram and stories and all the different formats and maintain a YouTube channel and so forth? You're going to start to get the inkling of the answer to that as we go through the rest of this episode and it again comes back to this concept of being a virtual CEO.

The fourth reason why you need to graduate from solo to virtual CEO is that it takes more money than most people have when they first start out in order to be successful in creating an online business. Now, what I mean by that is the reason most people fall into the trap of trying to do everything themselves is because they feel like they don't have enough money or they don't have a budget to be able to hire the help that they need in order to be able to scale out their time and their results. Now, the reason I put this in there is because this is probably the number one thing that keeps people solo for too long. They think that budget is a problem. Oh, well, I can't hire assistants. I can't hire a team. I can't hire an agency. Okay. Now at the very beginning, that may be true for some people and then that leads them into a bunch of paths that don't lead to success.

One of the ones I see the most is they'll listen to gurus that'll tell them, we'll just go find an offshore virtual assistant, right? So if anybody read the four hour work week with which a lot of people have, you know, in this space and what's just now, whatever, 10 or 12 years old, there's a lot of great advice in there. On how to think about outsourcing, but the idea of finding this mythical virtual assistant for $6 an hour in the Philippines that knows everything about WordPress and Facebook ads and messenger bots and marketing and all the other skills that we've talked about here, it's a myth. It doesn't exist. You're not going to find an offshore person or even 10 that have all of these skills that are deep experts and all of them and that are going to work together as a team in order to move your business forward.

That doesn't exist. That doesn't happen. The cases where people have been successful with virtual assistants basically turns them into a project manager. So what that means is yes, you can find 10 or 20 different individual skills out there pretty cheap, but pulling those together into an integrated team basically just turns you into a project manager. You're going to spend all of your time managing those people and doing QA checks and trying to make one talk to the other. Even though one's in India, one's in Pakistan and one's in Romania or something like that. So a lot of people will go down that path for a while, but eventually they come back to this concept that we're talking about here, which is being a project manager is not being a virtual CEO. You need to be able to delegate entire categories of activities, entire functions within your business in order to be able to scale in order to be able to spend your time where it needs to be, creating your products, serving your customers, and then handling the strategy and the long term direction of your business.

The fifth and final reason why you need to graduate from solo to virtual CEO comes back to mindset and approach. Now, what I mean by that is you need to ask yourself a question, one that's very powerful that I learned from Russell Brunson and that is you need to be thinking about the who, not the how. So what he means by that is whenever there is a set of tasks that need to be done, let's say I need to create a new webinar to market, of course, that I'm going to be launching. Okay? 95% of you that are listening will probably go down the path of no one and looking at five different webinar platforms and then not really maybe understand the technology. So get confused about, Hey, which one should I choose? Or which one's better? Or who does my favorite guru use? You'll go into forums and ask questions.

Hey, which webinar platform should I use? And you'll start listening to people that are in forums that also know nothing about technology, right? So the idea there isn't to think about how am I going to do this? The best question to ask is who can do this for me? Who is an expert in webinar platforms and launches and you know, configuring all of that stuff and creating all the campaigns around it. It's the who, not the how. That's basically what a CEO would ask. So the second thing you need to do once you've started asking yourself who instead of how and figuring out who can help you do the tasks and the functions that you need to do is also continuing to think like that virtual CEO and thinking about what type of teams do I need, what type of processes and what type of procedures do I need in place in order to be successful?

So again, it's not you going and learning everything. It's finding the right expertise, having them help you with that particular topic. So again, if it's webinars and everything surrounding that, it's finding the right expert who's actually going to do work for you. Okay? I don't mean going out and buying a $2,000 course on how to deliver webinars, right? That would be falling down that path of trying to learn everything yourself. Find somebody who's going to help you, coach you, and actually do most of the work for you. And then that's what you bring in. Now as you bring in that expert and you add them to your team, you need to make sure that they are documenting all of their processes and procedures. Figuring out are there any other team members required. And then basically building that into a repeatable function. Okay, that's what's going to let you then later push down the cost.

Maybe you don't need the expert the next time. Maybe you can do it yourself because everything's written down and you know exactly what buttons to click and you don't even have to think about it anymore. So that last one is really that mindset shift of who not how. And then figuring out how do I turn that into teams, processes and procedures to make it repeatable in your business and then push the cost down as low as it can go. So let's take a day in the life, look at what that transformation or that graduation from solo to virtual CEO would look like. And then at the end, I'll tell you exactly how you can do this in your own business. So today you know, much like I have up until recently, you probably wake up with a huge task list in your mind. Okay, so again, if you're thinking about you've built a course or you're building an online course and you've decided webinars are going to be your launch mechanism, you're waking up every day thinking, geez, I still have half of this course that I have to record and I don't like the way my videos looked.

I don't know how to make my audio quality better. I don't think my lighting looks good, so I'm just worried about the overall quality level and once I get all the content created, I've got to figure out how am I going to put this into my website or should I use a Kajabi or Kartra or WordPress or all these different tech platforms in order to get the course even up and running. Then I'm not sure how I'm going to do payments. Do I need Stripe or PayPal? Then thinking about the webinars like, well, yeah, I'm going to have to record the webinar. Am I going to be able to do that live? What kind of internet connection do I need? So I better start writing down all the things I need to check for the webinar. Oh and yeah, I've got to write a 15 different email followups for people that join and leave early and don't hear the offer and so on and so forth.

I could go on for another hour in the episode just outlining the list of tasks for a single course and a single live webinar launch. Okay. That's where most of us wind up overwhelmed. We write out or think about these huge task lists, and to be honest, it's even worse than that because most of us don't even know all of the tasks that we really need to do on these things until we get into it and then we realize we missed something. You know, in the middle of the live webinar, it's like, go, whoops, you know, there's something wrong with with my microphone or something like that. So there's a lot of different things there that in the normal day when you're going solo, you get overwhelmed with these things. And then the real killer is when you run into one of those tasks that you just flat out don't know how to do, but that are critical for the thing that you're trying to accomplish.

So again, in that webinar example, you know, if you didn't know how to get your camera hooked up to your computer and able to broadcast live during this webinar, you're going to be stuck, right? And you may lose eight hours going and trying to find online how to do that, whereas an expert, it's done in a minute. It's never even a problem. So that's what the day in the life of solo looks like, feels like. And I'm sure a lot of people who are listening to this, that's what you're experiencing every day, just like I have experienced for a couple of years. Now let's take a look at the difference. The flip side, what if you actually were a virtual CEO? So there it's completely different. Now you wake up and instead of you having to worry about a bunch of things, imagine you have a virtual chief operating officer. That's what I call it.

A CEO does not do the day to day operations of their company. They have a chief operating officer sitting on top of all of their different divisions and people in teams that handle the day to day letting the CEO focus on strategy and and longer term goals. So how do you affect that inside of an online business, which may today just be yourself? The way to do that is by finding and bringing in what I call a virtual chief operating officer. Okay. Some people call this an integrator. So Amy Porterfield talks about that a lot on her podcast. There's her as the CEO of her, you know, while they successful online course business. But then she has what she calls an integrator. It's basically a second in command in charge of the day to day operations and managing the large team of people that she has. So if you're a virtual CEO, what happens in the morning is you wake up and your first call of the day is going to be with your virtual chief operating officer and they are going to give you a briefing of what's going on in the business.

What are the tasks that need to be done that week? Who's working on what, what their status is. And most importantly, what are the few key areas where they need your input, either in terms of a decision, in terms of a piece of content that needs to be created or uh, you know, a call that needs to be had with a customer or whatever it may be. So instead of you waking up with this huge overwhelm of tasks, you're going to have a single person and a team working for you that are taking your direction and taking initiative on their own to get these things done. And you would have that chief operating officer in the middle so that you're not getting peppered by questions from, you know, 10 different freelancers and different service providers that you might be using. So your day is entirely different there because after that initial call, you know exactly what you need to do in order to keep the team busy and getting all of your goals accomplished and then the remainder of your day can be focused on thinking forward, what's the next product I'm going to create?

What's the next launch that we want to do? What's the next strategy that we want to try and test in the business to accelerate our growth? Okay. When you're stuck in that solo mode and you're just dorking around with cameras and webinars and you know, technical widgets here and there, you rarely have time to think ahead about, you know, what strategy makes sense or, or you know, actual growth of the business. So that's a huge difference in the day in the life between solo and virtual CEO. So the final point before I show how to start making that transition is I want to really just hammer home that the people that you see online that are successful may have already done this. Okay. They a lot of them, whether it's on purpose because they sell courses or just whether it's inadvertent, they put out the perception that Hey, they've created this incredible, you know, seven and eight figure passive income, you know, type of business just sitting by themselves on the beach with a laptop typing away for a couple of hours a day and then the money flies into their, their bank accounts.

Okay. These days, nothing could be further from the truth. If you take a look at any of the experts that show up in your feeds frequently, the ones that are making millions of dollars, all of them, bar none, have some form of team supporting them that they've either built themselves or agencies that they've hired or the Dave kind of built up over time. The reason I know this is that a couple of years ago I did a virtual summit and I reached out to about a hundred different six, seven and eight figure online entrepreneurs and invited them in for interviews to see how were they successful, how did they go from scratch to six, seven or eight figures? And in the end we netted it down to interviews with about 20 successful people. A lot of whom show up in some of your feeds. Chris Ducker, John Lee Dumas, you know Lauria Petrucci, you know a bunch of others that are probably in your feeds now that have very successful businesses.

And what we found was none of them did it by themselves. All of them started by themselves. All of them grew over time, but none of them that are successful today are sitting there on a beach by themselves doing every task in their business alone. So that's what I want you to think about is how do you get there? Okay. Now at this point, the, by far the biggest objection that's in your mind if you've made it this far is that sounds really expensive. And how can I afford that if I'm still working in my regular job and trying to build this business on the side when I don't have tens of thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars to go hire a team? And that's a great question and then leads into, well how do you actually make this transition? So when I interviewed those 20 online business experts that had been successful at building their businesses, I asked them how did they make that turn from solo and doing everything themselves up to the success that they were having today with the teams that they had built around them.

And the answers were all very similar. It took time, it took them time to go from solo to maybe an assistant to then a couple of freelancers to then making their first full time hire to then growing their team out to the five 10 or 15 that it generally is today for the folks that are successful. And I really thought about that a lot cause you know what was nice was those folks were being honest or in these interviews they weren't making it sound like they were overnight successes. You know, several of them, uh, I think it's Chris Ducker said, you know, they're a 10 year overnight success, right? It took years to get up to those points. Now I'm an impatient person. Um, I had already spent a couple of years trying and failing. I did not want to spend another five or 10 years before experiencing success.

So I went back and thought about that quite a bit and I said, well, how could we reverse engineer what some of these folks have today? Maybe there's a, an a company out there that provides those services. Is there anybody out there that it gives you a team of people that basically become your team that you can leverage for building your online business? Is there anybody out there that knows of course, creation and webinars and membership sites and podcasts and all this stuff that we have talked about in this episode that we need to do. So I looked high and low. I was in the fortunate position of, you know, longterm successful career at Microsoft. I had budget I could put into growing my online business and even with a budget of five thousand ten thousand twenty $50,000, there was nobody out there providing the set of services geared towards course creators, coaches and consultants online for any reasonable cost.

I mean, of course there's marketing agencies out there that you can go hire, but they're the ones that you know, charge you $50,000 just to get a basic website. Okay. There wasn't anybody that provided a team like Amy Porterfield has or Gary Vaynerchuk has or Chris Docker has or any of the other ones that, uh, that many of us love and follow. There was nobody out there providing that breadth of service at a cost point that was achievable for an individual to bring in, in that first one to three years of their business. And in the end that, I spent a lot of time on this because this was the key problem that I saw in this entire online business space. Thousands of people come into it, only a few hundred are ever truly successful. And I started digging into why is that the case? And every single time it came back to what we were talking about in this episode, people get excited by the idea of I'm on a beach passive income, write a couple of blog posts or record a couple of podcasts, got some sponsors, and suddenly I'm making $1 million a year.

They get pulled in by that marketing message, right? The hope of that scenario. Okay, I did myself. The problem is like we've seen they run into this solo trap, try for a couple of years, then burnout and give up. And that's why any of the gurus that you follow, if you really dig into how many actual successful students they have, it's in the single digit percent if they're lucky. Okay, one, two, 3% ever even finished courses, let alone go on to be successful and build their own businesses. So again, I kept asking over and over again, why is that and how could that be fixed? And I came back to was this concept of how would you get people from solo to virtual CEO? It's what I started doing. I said, okay, I've got budget. I'm going to go hire people, service providers, services, you know, assistance and so forth.

I'm going to start building this team. So I had the luxury of having the budget to start doing that myself. Most people don't necessarily have that. So I thought, again, okay, let's see, maybe there's somebody out there offering those set of services. When I did all that research and found that there wasn't, that's when the light bulb went off and I said, Hm, here maybe is the opportunity that I've been looking for that ultimate win-wins scenario to both help a broad set of people, unleash their expertise, build their businesses, you know, achieve the, the wealth and impact and legacy they want while at the same time, you know, enabling me to make that transition myself. And that's when the idea of the expert business agency was born. And I said, Hey, reverse engineering the people that are successful, you need a team. You need to be a virtual CEO.

You need to be able to delegate and outsource, you know, a wide range of tasks, even entire business functions like tech and marketing. And I said, well how could we deliver that to customers in a way that was affordable to them and allowed us to generate a, you know, a small profit that we need, you know, just to be a functioning business. And that's what led to the, what I call the expert business accelerate program, which I'll give you some information for at the end of the episode. And the idea there is create a world class team, but then share that amongst 10 15 or 20 aspiring online business owners who can't afford yet to buy and fund their own team full time until they start generating some cashflow. So the idea is how to get you to be a virtual CEO in the first one to three years of your business, maybe before you're generating a national enough cashflow to be able to hire 10 full time people.

Because if you think about 10 full time people, a designer and editor, a copywriter and ads person, a project manager, a support person, you know even at you know, 75,000 bucks a year or even $50,000 a year for each of those, you're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars of payroll to support if you needed to build your own full time team. Most of us just starting out can possibly afford that. So the idea of a shared team of experts where we do all of the work for you and we have experts that you can cycle through when you need them. When it's time to build an ad campaign, you go to the ad experts that we have on the team. When it's time for some design work to be done, you go to the designer that's assigned to you. These are the ideas that really bore out the, the concept of the expert business agency.

And then the final piece of the puzzle, um, you know, that we just kind of fell into in the last couple of months was that concept of a virtual chief operating officer. So a lot of agencies and partners and things like that, they'll give you like a success manager or you know, a project manager or something like that who's really just kind of shepherding tasks, you know, through to completion. What we're doing is we're providing what I call that virtual chief operating officer. Okay. So what that is is that's somebody who is a very senior resource, has a lot of experience in, in this world and is going to not only help get tasks done for you, but they are going to work paired up with you on strategy. And what I mean by that is thinking about what are the products that you're going to offer, the positioning, the value, what marketing strategies make sense to add.

So they're going to work directly with you on strategy. Uh, so what types of products to create, what types of positioning to use, what type of marketing strategies help you with the longterm planning help you with building out the virtual team? So it's not a project manager. You'd have access to one of those two, but it's more of that partner that you're going to share access to that can really help guide you in the right direction. And all of these things that we've built into the offer, I think address the issues that I've come up with and trying all the different things that are out there. So again, I've bought every course under the sun. When you get into courses, even the ones that provide some kind of support or access to the guru or add basketing, you know, a half hour of their time, usually in a group of a hundred people and maybe once a week you get to ask a question and get an answer on the contrast of virtual CEO, which we offer up.

You have them in Slack every day. You have as many calls with them in the week as you need. You have a true partner in working with you to build and grow your online business. Same thing with the shared team, okay? It's not going to be just fire a, a task off out into the ether and then you know, wonder when it's going to come back. You're sharing access to a team that's assigned to you and you'll interact with them every day. So the reason I'm bringing this up is a, you know, not to kind of do a on the fly webinar about the expert business agency, but just to show that there are answers in between his solo and then hiring a full time team of your own. And that's what I call building a virtual team led by you as a virtual CEO with a virtual COO as your partner.

So do you want to learn how to graduate from solo to virtual CEO and not have to hire a team of experts and 10 different people full time that you need to figure out how to pay for, manage and make work together? If so, then I want you to head over to expert business.com/accelerate for a new training video that I've posted that goes into all of the details of exactly how we enable you to be a virtual CEO, the team of experts, the tools and the processes that we use and that we can build around your business in order to take most of that load off of you so that you can focus on those strategic activities that a CEO should be doing. So again, if you're interested in learning more, head over to expert business.com/accelerate and once you've gone through the video, there's a little button you can click, go through a short application process and then you can jump on a phone call with us and we'll go through your business goals, what your strategy is, and figure out if there's a match for our services, whether we can help you accelerate the growth of your business by giving you a virtual chief operating officer and then acting as your team to help you grow and accelerate your business.

So I look forward to hoping you hop on that video. I hope you jump on a call with us and, um, you know, we'd love to help you and we'd love to accelerate your progress. Thanks.

Success requires taking action and definitive steps toward your goals every day. This is the difference between success and failure. I challenge you to take action today on the things you learned in this episode and join us on the path to success.