Scaling Success: Building Businesses that Last with Ryan Deiss

by | May 1, 2024

Episode description
Today’s episode features digital marketing pioneer Ryan Deiss. Ryan shares the story of his unexpected journey from a university freshman to the founder of Digital Marketer and beyond. Opening up about the evolution of his career, Ryan talks about the pivotal moments and strategic decisions that dramatically changed his simple side hustles into a robust portfolio of successful businesses. He discusses the importance of visualizing business processes and the power of scaling operations to not just sustain, but also exponentially grow business ventures. This discussion is a goldmine for any entrepreneur eager to understand the real mechanics behind creating and scaling a business that not only survives but thrives in today's competitive landscape. Tune in to discover how Ryan turned entrepreneurial challenges into lucrative opportunities.

00:00:00 - Opening Insights: Simplifying Complex Business Processes
00:01:04 - First Steps: Ryan's Unexpected Path to Entrepreneurship
00:02:30 - Digital Beginnings: Laying the Foundation of Digital Marketer
00:05:20 - Visionary Ventures: Expanding Beyond Marketing into Scalable Business
00:08:33 - Ideas to Industry: Crafting Digital Empires
00:10:15 - Behind the Scenes: An Entrepreneur’s Real World
00:13:19 - Rethinking Priorities: The Crucial Moment of Personal Reflection
00:19:16 - The Founder’s Challenge: Balancing Growth and Personal Life
00:20:13 - Strategic Scaling: Effective Tactics for Expanding Your Impact
00:23:07 - Mastering the Art of Delegation: Essential for Scaling
00:26:10 - From Startup to Powerhouse: The Transition to a Scalable Model
00:29:05 - Navigating the ‘Swamp of Scale’: Strategies for Sustained Growth
00:31:11 - Scalable Frameworks: Introducing New Systems for Entrepreneurs
00:33:24 - Unpacking the Pain of Scaling: Strategies and Solutions
00:36:45 - Blueprints for Business Growth: Keys to Successful Expansion
00:39:58 - When Scaling Meets Reality: Navigating Business Complexities
00:40:57 - Leveraging High-Ticket Offers: Maximizing Revenue Opportunities
00:48:08 - Wrapping Up: Key Takeaways and Future Directions

Episode transcript

Ryan: [00:00:00] I've made it so complicated, but in reality, it's so simple. We sell stuff, we fulfill stuff. If I can have a visual flowchart of how we sell stuff, how does somebody go from not knowing who we are to making a purchase?

Once they've made a purchase, how do we go from them making that purchase to delivering enough value such that at the end, we're ready to ask for a testimonial customer story? how does that happen? Once it's visualized, then you can say, okay, what are the steps and stages we don't want to screw up?

Let's build some playbooks and SOPs around that. Then you can say, okay, who do we specifically need to do all these things? This step right here, this little sticky note. Who does that? Do we have anybody do that or is that one me? What about the next one? Oh, me again. Oh, me, me, me, right? So now you're saying like, who do I need to hire and what sticky notes can I start to hand off?

Dustin: welcome back to the seven figure lead podcast. truly an honor today to [00:01:00] introduce you to this guest. and I'll reveal his name here in a second, but, he didn't know it at the time, but he actually completely changed the trajectory of my life. 10 years ago, when I went down to Austin, Texas for the very first.

Marketing slash business event I'd ever been to in my life. I was a full time engineer at the time and I invested in this program called the machine and they had really cool event and I won VIP access to it. I think cause I gave a glowing testimonial and actually got to spend a day in the offices, uh, digital marketer and decided in that moment or at that event, they're like, I need to be doing this full time.

And so it took me a few years. wasn't like an overnight thing that I quit my job, but I did immediately start doing marketing consulting and the 2017 left engineering behind. as anyone who knows my story, rest is history, but this person. who's here with us today is the person who created digital marketer. He also created traffic and conversion summit, which I had the honor of speaking on that stage a few months ago.

And now I'm actually in a mastermind that he leads and got to [00:02:00] share a beer with him and invite him to be here on our podcast, about a month ago. So Ryan dice, thanks so much for being here, for giving me the honor to interview you.

It's very much a full circle moment for me. with all that glowing praise, don't you humbly introduce yourself for the audience?

Ryan: Yeah. Well, first, for telling me that story. I didn't know all that. I think I knew bits and pieces, but I didn't know all that. So thank you for sharing that. That's really, really cool. for me, my, I mean, my story, man, I could go back a long way. I made my first sale online in 1999 not because I really saw the internet and, uh, you know, e commerce and online sales as being like this massive trend. I was a freshman at the university of Texas at Austin. Um, I met a girl and I knew within a couple of weeks of dating this girl that she was probably the woman I was going to marry.

Like I said, I didn't tell her that because that's kind of creepy. But, but I knew and it was kind of the first time in my adult life, young adult life, that I was like, oh my gosh, I'm broke and that's a problem. You know, when you're a kid and you know, you're a freshman in college, you don't worry that you're broke.

Everybody's supposed to be broke, right? but I knew it was a problem because I was like, oh my gosh, You know, at some point I'm going to want to pop the question and I [00:03:00] should have a diamond ring and diamonds are expensive and I don't have any money and this is bad.

And that next thought process was, well, I have a job, but my job, my part time job, because again, I'm full time student, my part time job is just helping to cover the bills wasn't anything extra. So I'm like, well, what else can I do? My only real option is to start a business. And the first thing that I did was I taught myself basic web design.

I took some web design, had literally a web design client and, figured I could start maybe selling some little digital products online because nobody was doing that. It was pre Amazon. This is when, ultimate traffic hack was you would put up a web page and you would just stuff a bunch of the keywords that you wanted to rank for at the bottom of the page, make it the same color as the background. And what do you know, you're ranking number one on AltaVista.

Right. So that was my whole game, back then. And it was truly just a side hustle. I mean, I think I'm like probably a lot of the people listening or watching this right now. I'm an accidental entrepreneur. I didn't set out to start a business for the sake of having a business. I didn't say, Ooh, I want to get wealthy or rich or anything like that.

I [00:04:00] just wanted to make some extra money so I could buy a ring for a girl. that was it. still assumed that I was going to graduate and get a job and take the normal path. Fast forward a couple of years. I got the ring. I got the girl. All that. Little website turned into whole bunch of websites and I kind of realized, wow, I'm making more money from these stupid little websites and all my friends are making in their, in their jobs.

So why to that? Why not just keep doing this while I can? so that's what I did. And people started asking me what I was doing. I started getting invited to speak on stages. people asked me if I had an email newsletter. I didn't, but I, created one real fast. That's how I built my list.

And that's how I got to be known as a marketer everything for me, my entire career has just been talking about what I'm actually doing, the work that I'm doing, classic, like work in public kind of thing that is now this super hot trend. But I always saw the talking about the stuff, that ultimately it started out as an email newsletter.

Then it became some products and then kind of wrapped them all up under one banner that became digital marketer. com [00:05:00] that I always just saw as like a side hustle and not the real business. My real business was building and other businesses outside of the talking about what I was doing, the talking about what I was doing simply funded those things.

Dustin: I love that because literally, I was like, guess training and a mastermind right before I came here and the host of that, not knowing I was going to interview 30 minutes later, it was like, Hey, Dustin, you know, we met back in the day. I still use those email templates in the machine or whatever.

And like, you're just synonymous with digital marketer and marketing. And I. Oh, we're going to obviously talk mostly about what you're actually doing today. with a scalable book you wrote on scaling companies, going to focus on that. But even in this whole, from college to digital marketer.

And then after digital marketer, what I've grown to learn from you being in the mastermind and, you just listening to more of your interviews with other entrepreneurs, Is this, impression people have that like, the digital market is totally the main thing.

Like that was always your dream to create that. Like, that's how I think people perceive Ryan dice reality. You've been behind the scenes sort of quietly. Running [00:06:00] lots of real businesses and then like, that's just kind of been the, place you show your work for what's been working in the real businesses that you're running. Am I getting the actual reality? Correct? Now?

Ryan: yeah, and, look, I, mean, I still love digital marketer. I mean, we still own digital marketer. We sold the event that actually birthed digital marketer. Traffic and conversion summit.

A lot of people don't realize this, but traffic and conversion summit. was in its third year on the third day of traffic and conversion summit year three, TNC three, when I announced digital marketer as a brand, that's how much of an afterthought. we're selling products and hosting events, and I never treated it like a real company, which, by the way, was stupid. Like, that was really, really dumb to not treat it like a business. So I still love Digital Marketer, and still very proud of the work that we've done over the years.

I'm proud of the innovations that we've had. I'm proud of the fact that I'm associated with a lot of breakthroughs in marketing. That, yeah, we did. and I still do think about myself and identify as a marketer. Because that was my first love, and that's what I had to figure out.

I think it's what all entrepreneurs have to figure out. The very first job of an [00:07:00] entrepreneur is go sell somebody something,

Now, you got to be able to deliver, obviously, but it's a lack of sales that's held back more businesses than a lack of fulfillment. So, I love marketing, and I say, you know, I feel like I've been playing a marketer on TV for the past 15 years, because the reality is, is I don't do the in the trenches marketing.

Then our customers and clients at digital marketer do, which is why we shifted to a publishing model. It's why I'm a spokesperson for the brand, but you're not going to see me in there talking about setting up meta ad campaigns or, you know, doing organic social or any of that. Cause it's not what I do.

And I always, always, always, the only thing I ever want to do is talk about what I'm doing, what's working. And as that changes, I invite new people to come along with me. And that's really why, I mean, you mentioned the scalable company. That's why the scalable company was born because at digital marketer, the original vision for digital marketer was to teach small businesses digital marketing.

That was the original vision. We wanted to basically lower the barrier to entry. We wanted [00:08:00] to level the playing field so that those who deserve to win those businesses, delivering the best experience with the best products and the best services that they would win, that they wouldn't get beat by some whippersnapper who's just better at them at marketing.

That was the original vision. So digital marketer existed to serve small businesses and entrepreneurs. But then something happened. The digital marketing world matured. People like you came into it. And, yes, you're a business owner, but you're a business owner serving other business owners by doing the marketing.

We had a lot of people in the digital marketer community who were not business owners, they were not entrepreneurs. They were people like the folks working for me. They were full time marketing professionals who love them.

They're awesome. I couldn't tell them how to get better at their job because I didn't do that. And so I was kind of in this weird thing and it really happened during COVID. When I realized, like, I don't feel like I have an outlet for what I'm actually doing anymore. I can't talk about business stuff at Digital Marketer.

Because while there are some agencies there, and while there are plenty of entrepreneurs [00:09:00] there, I can't talk about what I'm doing here. I need another brand. I need another venue. I need another channel media property to do that. So scalable was born.

Dustin: So unpack there. I often like to talk about like, why do you do what you do? And I feel like you're, just solving your own, like next pain point. So like, every time we solve a problem, it creates a bigger, better problem. And at first it was like, I need to scrape together some money for a ring.

And then it was like, well, I need to like capitalize On this opportunity and the dot com boom and all this stuff going on. And so you spun up a lot of businesses, eventually leading to creating a conference, which I did not know preceded digital marketer.

And then, like you said, as recently as a few years ago in COVID, it required another public brand because the things you were really passionate about doing and that you wanted to teach were really about scalability and operations and things that are not marketing.

And I know you wrote a book that we're going to talk about, but just to give people maybe a snapshot now even in what you just shared, I think people are like, Oh, he's not just digital marketer. Now he's got [00:10:00] scalable. So there's like 17 businesses, right? So can you give us a little peek behind the curtain what your actual business life is like?

Ryan: yeah. So what we have today is a holding company called scalable equity that I, own with my business partner, Roland Frazier, Richard Lender is also a partner in that. and we own about right now, 17 different Companies across a broad array of, you B2C, you retail, automotive, like you name it we're building a portfolio group, a holding company, because man, at the end of the day, I'm an entrepreneur, I just love business.

I love the game of business. I love solving problems. I love getting to sandboxes and starting my own company is too slow. It'd be a lot better if I could just partner up with other folks who are there out there doing it.

So some of these businesses we own completely. Some of them we might only own 10 to 20 percent. last year, the collective, that portfolio group generated in excess of 200 million dollars in revenue. So it's a lot of fun sandboxes to get to play in. It's a lot of great places. And what we now [00:11:00] have with the scalable company.

The scale of the company is kind of just a front for our investment acquisition, because a lot of companies are going to come in here and they're going to want to learn about the stuff that we teach at scalable and digital marketer is really sort of the, you're getting started up to, about a million dollars in revenue, if you're an entrepreneur.

And then probably if you're an entrepreneur, you're going to exit the digital marketer community. You're going to hopefully hire a head of marketing you're going to put them in place. , you're going to basically give them, give your membership

Dustin: Yeah, exactly. I was going to say send them the digital marketer here.

Ryan: Exactly. and I remember saying this at traffic and conversion summit, gosh, probably seven or eight years ago. I would ask how many of you in this room are business owners. most of the hands went up. How many of you are, agency owners and a lot of hands on up?

How many of you are, marketing professionals, employees and a smaller number of hands on up? And I, and I said, if this brand is going to grow and if we're going to truly serve our audiences, the number of business owners hands needs to go down. The number of team members needs to go [00:12:00] up.

So I said, all of you who are here who are business owners, I hope you come back next year, but I hope you bring somebody from your marketing team, come to the sessions you want to, but hang out at the bar and network, send your people here, but we didn't have a place for them to go.

And so now we've got scalable company, and that is for businesses who are in that the swamp of scale. So they've solved for the problem of growth. Now they've got a new problem, which is scale. And man, they're fundamentally different problems. And that's what a lot of people didn't realize. And it's the problem that good marketing creates.

And so we saw a digital marketer, people who are our highest level clients, It worked like the stuff we showed and worked, but now they had new problems that was same with me, So, okay, how do we solve these problems? We need a new brand, for that. But the beautiful thing is to our overarching business model, you know, peek behind the curtains, the clients that come in through the scalable company.

They're just very, very, good, solid acquisition opportunities to expand our portfolio. Group, which that's the game that I want to play for the rest of my life. You know, and I basically want to be in the private equity [00:13:00] space. and that's the game that we're playing right now.

Dustin: Love that. I appreciate you being transparent about that. And, I find that super exciting and inspirational. real personal here, but want to kind of ask why, like, why do you want to get into private equity game? Is it literally because you feel like it's a game and it's fun and like, and you can measure it and you can win?

Are you a subscriber to like lifestyle design or passive income is like, how do your personal and professional identities kind of like come together in, what you're trying to build next? If that makes sense.

Ryan: It's a, great question to ask. And it's a better question for everybody listening to answer, because it's not a question that I answered very intentionally in the early days. And I'll tell you, I got a lot of regrets because of it. So my very first, why I shared, I needed to make enough money to buy a girl, a ring. Well, that ring was about 10, 000. technically, I should have stopped, I didn't because I was having fun it was working.

And if some money was good, then more would be better. So I kept going. and I still wasn't sure if I was going to keep on with this entrepreneurial [00:14:00] track, but it was working and I was able to do it without a problem. stress myself out too much.

And then at some point, I realized, wow, I'm making enough. I can do a full time deal from this. And so now my whole game was, can I make enough to cover our monthly net as a family, which in the beginning was 6, 000 a month. So how do I create a predictable 6, 000 a month?

Because, you by the time I graduated, I was making a couple hundred grand a year, but there'll be some months where it was, less good. And other months, you know, I mean, it was The whipsaw that I was definitely living in the chop and so it's like, okay, I need to treat this like a business, not just like when I want to make some money, God makes money and then it goes back to zero. Like, let's really build real business systems around that. How do I get to 6, 000 and ultimately 10, 000?

I remember believing if I could get to 10, 000. A month, I would never need to make any more money ever again. Well, fast forward, been married now for, 18 months or so. And my wife comes in and it's like, I've got news, and anybody who's had that conversation knows what that news was.

So it's like, okay, now there's another little, why coming along two years later, another, why, another, why, another, why four [00:15:00] kids later. I wanted to grow the business now so that I could provide the type of lifestyle. That I wanted to provide for my kids, you know, and it's the same thing. I think a lot of parents want.

How can we take the Disney vacations, put them in the best private school. It's all those things, And so my why was really about them. But then something changed, in 2016, because again, I've always owned multiple businesses. have three different companies in our portfolio group simultaneously on the Inc. 505, 000 list.

So not one company, multiple years, but three companies simultaneously, which sounds really cool. until you realize that that year, I basically woke up every morning and was in the office before my kids were awake. I got home after pretty much everybody was asleep. I missed pretty much every soccer game, dance, recital, ballet, piano, anything.

I pretty much missed them all. was a rarity for me to make it home for dinner. truly and even on the weekends when I was supposedly not working.

I still wasn't, there mentally and it wasn't [00:16:00] until I came home after midnight one night and my wife When I walked into the room, she was waiting up for me. and she said, look, you can keep doing what you're doing. I know who I married. I know I married an entrepreneur. I know you're nuts, but you can't do what you're doing, but you can't pretend like you're doing it for us anymore.

Dustin: I've had a conversation similar to this at some, at some point in my past. So I can totally feel what that would feel like to hear that from your wife. So

Ryan: yeah, man, and crushed me appropriately. So yeah. and she didn't give me an ultimatum. She wasn't like, stop doing this or I'm out. what she did is she held up a mirror in front of my face and said, do you like what you see? And I had to admit that no, I didn't. and what she did is she called me on my why, the very question that you're asking me now, why are you doing this? Because you're not doing it for us.

Like, we're fine. You're continuing to work and push and we're good. we've got a great lifestyle. And frankly, and she said, would gladly take less than what we have right now if we got more of you.

And so it was because I wasn't intentional. It's because all I was doing was, was pursuing growth for the sake of growth, which really was about ego. It was [00:17:00] no longer, the only why at that point, if I was being honest, was just my own personal ego. Seeing if I could fulfill all my entrepreneurial ambitions.
Could I keep up with the people who I thought were maybe a little bit ahead of me? I wasn't intentional about my why and my identity. And that was the day that that changed.

That was the day that I said, no, I am going to be, you intentional about this. and I am going to prioritize My family, I say that they're, number one in my life, there's my faith and then there's my family and then business is third. even ahead of friends, I got to admit that, you know, I definitely have let some friendships go, go to the wayside, but definitely family is there.

And so I had to say, okay, what does that look like? And what I realized is I had to build a business that could run and scale without me, period. And I like to say, you know, I've dubbed it the founder's paradox, but I firmly believe that the more valuable you are to your business, the less valuable your business is.

And that's not what entrepreneurs think. Most of them, especially startup founders. It's not what we're taught. You know, most of us believe we want to be the most valuable that for a company to [00:18:00] grow, we need to get more productive, We need to learn all these things. And I just said, flipped it and said, what if I were utterly worthless?

To this business, what would need to be true that isn't true today? And it completely flipped the way that we built the companies and I looked out there Who are the people who run these kinds of business?

Well, it turns out that they're more on the investor side of things and they're not so much on the operator side They're definitely not doing a new startup every other week so I had to change who I was following and who my mentors were and who my advisors were and that's why the business Is you ask why do we have this business here today?

It's not passive passive is when you buy a stock and it's coming in. I'm not gonna describe. I still work my butt off but i'm generally working nine to five And in the summers we take an entire month off as a family And my wife and I will do a couple of week long vacations just the two of us And when I get back, it's fine.

Everything's fine. And so I work because I do love the game I love the game. I think it's so much fun. But I want to play a game that's worth winning

Dustin: [00:19:00] I love that. I'm so glad I asked that question. It's such a. Clear, profound, and real answer. I can feel that you really did go through this transformation and got hit upside the head with the fact that, you had lost sight of the real reason why you were doing things and you had to reprioritize this is going to actually segue really well into scalable and, the get scalable book, literally like page three or something has the founder's paradox.

And I was reading that and I'm like, feel like I'm just on the other side of that now, like I'm moving towards this. Scaled version of my business. And happy to, we can talk about the of that and how your company would help my company.

But before that, just dig in just a little bit here. What did you do in response? So like you had this midnight moment, you kind of alluded to the fact that you like had to get different help, but like, practically speaking. It's 2016 and in 2020, like you've done enough of this to write a book about it. in that transition period, like what were those key first steps?

Or maybe if you felt like you took the wrong steps, what should someone do when their wife comes to them and says, I'd rather have more [00:20:00] of you and less money. we got to change some things with your entrepreneurial journey here. how, how do people start that? Cause that's a

Ryan: Yeah, well, let me tell you a couple things not to do, because I did do a lot of things wrong, and sometimes it's easier, you know, I'm a big believer in like anti mentors, to a certain extent, it's like, that guy seems miserable, uh, and a failure, like, what if I just do the, it's like the Costanza, you remember that, scene from, Seinfeld, where George realizes he's just such a miserable failure at life, that he's just going to do the opposite of all of his ordinary impulses.

I think there's a lot of wisdom to that. So I'm going to tell you all the things not to do. first thing not to do. I and I referenced this earlier, but don't try to see if you can be more productive for the love of God.

Don't go out there and buy another, planning journal or try to find a better morning routine again. The goal is not to optimize your own productivity because the more valuable you are to your business, the less valuable your business is. So throw that one. Okay, you don't need another freaking planner.

You don't need a journal. You don't need a different morning routine. It's not about that. Now, what a lot of people will tell you is, ah, so what you need to do is you need to go in there and [00:21:00] just systemize everything, document everything. I read the e myth on vacation. I remember coming back and announcing to my team, you know, Hey team, everybody effective immediately.

We're not going to greenlight any new projects, no new hires, no nothing until everybody in the company has documented everything that they do. We're going to systemize the entire business.

Well, first of all, oh my God, man. Well, first of all, half of the people were panicked because they thought they were getting fired. The other half was pissed off because they were like, you want me to document my job? I know how to do my job. You don't have to tell me to do my job. Nobody's, you know. So I had to explain and it's like, I didn't do a good job selling this and explaining the why.

So I eventually got everybody back on board and we did it. We did it. We spent a full month, and everybody documented everything. We printed out all the SOPs and audits. We put them in these beautiful tabbed folders, and I remember putting them up on the bookshelf, and nobody ever looked at those things ever again. Literally, they never got looked at. And so, don't do that. Don't do that either.

The other thing that you shouldn't do, which is what I did is I fired myself from my own company at one point. I decided I didn't have what it took. there may very well come a [00:22:00] day where you want to sell your business and step away there may very well come a day when you, decide to bring on operator. or a COO, maybe even a CEO. But that should happen on a good day. Don't fire yourself on a bad day.

All right? I'm all for quitting, but quit on a good day. and this whole thing about like, oh, you just need to an integrator that is the biggest crock of horse hooey that I've ever heard. Man as a marketer, I get it. And I love it. 'cause you're basically telling, entrepreneurs like you're these adorable little like visionary snowflakes that need to be protected at all costs. And hire somebody to do all the dirty work.

It just doesn't work in the beginning, The founder's vision needs to be realized. And the best person to make sure that happens is the founder is the entrepreneur. Yes, get help, but not by hiring a sidekick to do it all for you. It just doesn't work. I know. And it's only always wrong. when it's done again, just the title of integrator is stupid. It has a name. It's called a VP of operations, a [00:23:00] CEO, a president, a general manager.

You don't need to go out there and hire this unicorn like person who's going to do that. Most of the time, entrepreneurs, they need a couple of functional roles. So, you just need somebody to have your marketing or you need somebody to really help you out with product. Or you just need a freaking executive assistant. Okay. That being said, the other thing to not do is just to throw human beings at the problem.

And man, I did this. Obviously, we've got a who problem, not a how problem. So, like, let's just get some people in here and we just start chunking human beings at our problems. I'm like, I don't know how to figure it out, but you try to fix it. No, that doesn't work.

What you've got to do is pause, just hit the, not for a long time, but you got to hit the pause button. You got to sincerely ask the question. What the heck are we doing here? Like, what do we do here? What do we do as a company? Companies really only do two things. You sell stuff and you fulfill stuff. That's it. You sell stuff and then you fulfill the stuff you sold, Isn't that what kind of every business does?

Dustin: Yep.

Ryan: I mean, if you're an Amazon seller, you're selling stuff on, and then you're fulfilling it. If you're running [00:24:00] a service company, you're going to sell a client, you're going to fulfill them. That's kind of what we all do. So how do you do that? Now, a lot of entrepreneurs can kind of tell me, but they can't visualize that process.

And so what I did was I got a whiteboard. I found the biggest whiteboard we had in the office, and I got a bunch of sticky notes.

And I literally mapped out a flow chart of, okay, here's the sticky note for we're running ads. We're going to run Facebook ads. So I wrote Facebook ads on a sticky note. I said, okay, when somebody clicks on a Facebook ad, then what happens?

Well, then they're going to go to this landing page. Great. Then what happens? Well, it depends. If they opt in, then they're going to go to some page. And if they don't,

Dustin: For those watching the video, it's a, I'm looking at a page in the get scalable book. It's literally like the post it notes.

Ryan: And that's what I did. And when I was done, I actually had a picture of what my company did. And I realized, holy crap, it's so simple. I've made it so complicated, but in reality, it's so simple. We sell stuff, we fulfill stuff. [00:25:00] If I can have a visual flowchart of how we sell stuff, how does somebody go from not knowing who we are to making a purchase?

Once they've made a purchase, how do we go from them making that purchase to delivering enough value such that at the end, we're ready to ask for a testimonial customer story? how does that happen? Once it's visualized, then you can say, okay, what are the steps and stages we don't want to screw up?

Let's build some playbooks and SOPs around that. Then you can say, okay, who do we specifically need to do all these things? This step right here, this little sticky note. Who does that? Do we have anybody do that or is that one me? What about the next one?

Oh, me again. Oh, me, me, me, right? So now you're saying like, who do I need to hire and what sticky notes can I start to hand off?

And if you do it like that, hand off one little sticky note at a time before you know it, you've got the system in place because you visualized how you create value and you've got the checklists and processes around those individual things. Now you got the people to run the systems. And what do you know? There's more to it than that. Obviously, I'm oversimplifying it. But at that [00:26:00] point,

Congratulations. You have a company operating system what I wish somebody would have told me sooner is that good people don't fix broken systems.

Broken systems break good people. And I had to learn that the hard way. And so did a lot of the people who worked for me. So what you have to do. The simple answer to a very complex and big question is what I did was I had to upgrade my company's operating systems. I had to go from that you operating system system. To an upgraded, what we refer to as a scalable operating system that's what the book is all about.

That's basically now today, my focus and goal in life is to help more entrepreneurs upgrade their operating systems so they can have a freaking life again, and so their business can run and scale without them.

Dustin: Yeah, I mean, I love it. And like I said, it's, where I'm at right now. Like we basically just hit seven figures in this business. It's me and some VAs. we're getting the operational help. You're finding your guidance in this book. it's been a huge help. a lot of people listening to the show are like, you there's six figure, multiple six figure founder led, they're scaling, they're [00:27:00] growing and you start to hit, I think some people hit it sooner, but for me.

Literally, it was like January of this year, right, right before I met you in person, in Austin, that kind of hit this point, like all these things converged, where I started seeing for the first time, other people's models.

I started looking at, I started looking at how you grew digital marketer, Chandler bolt at self publishing, Donald Miller at story brand, The Nathan barrier convert kit, like all very different models, but it's like, you know what, when I think of them, like I can totally like the soul of Chandler still there, but it's not like, he also has like 40 people working for him.

And I started to see like, maybe that's what I wanted. Maybe that is, maybe that's the next step is like, how do I, I want to keep that founder soul. And what makes this so special, which I would, I think in most cases is some form of the marketing or something about the fulfillment or something about the mechanism, the conversion mechanism, the transformation.

That you provide also scale. Like had felt mutually exclusive to that point. So I either remains a one man solopreneur badge of honor, or I go [00:28:00] like build a big team and hate my life because I don't want to manage people, but it turns out you can actually do this in a wise way. were interviewed on Chandler show self publishing and something that stood out to me is he said something like, Hey, who's your ideal client for scalable and the services you guys provide.

And you said, well, most of the people come to us. No, like one to 3 million or something like that. Right. It was like, they're drowning, they're burnt out. Our ideal client should come to us when they're at like 500 K before they burn out, but no one does, the, I'm like in that zone. I'm like, that's me.

So did I capture all that? And then like, you're grinning as I'm talking. So I know you've experienced this and this is probably who you work with on most days at scalable.

Ryan: man, I've experienced it from working with our clients and our portfolio company CEOs, but I've also lived it. And so I get it and you know what? You don't get to skip steps either. I oftentimes think that because I've done this before, that the rules don't apply to me, which is not how it works, but you're right.

No, you're absolutely right. And in reality, once you start to hit about a half a [00:29:00] million between half a million, that is when the pain starts. That is when you've got a handful of people, and now you're kind of in a little bit of firefighter mode, you're in plate spinning mode, you're really wearing multiple hats, doing multiple jobs, you're almost certainly performing one, if not multiple critical business functions.

And I would define a critical business function as a core value driver on the sales side or a core value driver on the fulfillment side. And most entrepreneurs are doing that, which means they've got at least two full time jobs. Entrepreneurs are typically high performance individuals. They can handle that.

But now you add on and you need to manage other people. That's when it starts to break. When you hit about seven people, even by the way, if they're part time, even if they're VAs, it's still a human that can come to you.

Dustin: That's a good distinction. Yeah.

Ryan: When you hit about seven, that is the max. If you look at just how militaries function, like seven to eight, maybe you can go up to like 10 if everybody's doing the same thing. After 10, forget [00:30:00] about it. asking one person to manage more than 10, they're almost certainly, almost certainly going to struggle.

And so it's at around, five to seven people. When you start to feel it. It's at 7, 10, 12, 15, 12 to 15 team members without actual systems in place without an operating system is just earth shattering.

And when that's happening, you're doing typically at that point, you're doing a couple million bucks in revenue. So, yeah, if you can address this stuff at around the half a million, three quarter million, like if you're pacing, then you can just keep going and you're not going to hit this swamp of scale, just trying to convince a fast growth business owner thing to pause for a little bit and ask the question, wait, what are we doing?

It's tough. I wouldn't pause either. So yeah, most of the time the pain doesn't really get great until a million, 2 million, 3 million, 4 million in revenue, you to 15 team members, that's kind of our ICP that because that's when the pain is severe.

Dustin: so, yeah, talk about, someone they're in that pain and they're like, holy crap, I wish I'd listened and, done this, multiples of [00:31:00] revenue in the past. How does scalable help them?

How does the scalable company itself serve people? And then I know that you said it's kind of the gateway for some companies into investment and scaling with you as a capital partner, but for all the companies that come in on day one, And work with you, like, what do you guys do for them?

Ryan: Yeah, I built what I said I would never build, which is a services company. so at the scalable company, what we do is we work with entrepreneurs over a 12 to 16 week process to install an upgraded operating system in their business. And this is done in a one on one fashion now.

We're good at systems and we're good at processes. So it is scalable. it is a one on one and man, we tried like I tried like heck to can I just sell a course and get people to buy a course. And people would buy it, but they didn't get the results. Can we do this as a group coaching program?

I've seen this be, by the way, incredibly successful in other areas. It's even better to group versus one on one. Didn't work. Because at this point, the nuances of your business, That U. O. S. And [00:32:00] you said it. You've got to extract the things that make it special.

And if you just try to overlay and a lot of people say, like, oh, there's a lot of different operating systems and like E. O. S. Are scaling up. Most of those are and I think they're great. I don't think there's anything like bad about it. I think they're incomplete. Most of them are.

Here's how you run meetings and here's how you set goals. they kind of want you to force your business into what they refer to as an operating system. I don't think that's an operating system. I think an operating system is beginning to operationalize the value creation process. There is no way to paint by numbers that you have got to start with.

What the heck are you doing right now? So it's got to be one on one. And so, yeah, companies come in, they pay us 15 to 18, 000.
We work with them for 12 to 16 weeks and spit them out the end of the engagement and they've got an operating system.

So now the entrepreneur can take a 30 day vacation. That is our goal. That's our goal for all of our clients. And then we say, now, congratulations, you are scale able. You're officially able [00:33:00] to scale. Do you want our help actually scaling? and that could take a lot of different forms, whether, you an active, equity type arrangements.

And, you know, perhaps we partner up with the company because really that 12 to 16 weeks, it's also kind of due diligence. You know, we're learning more about the business and the entrepreneur.

Yeah. So maybe it's that all the way down to, you know, just stick around in one of our group coaching programs, just seeing stay connected, get access to stuff. We never want to leave people hanging, but I'm also happy to say when you're done with this, it's not useful, but incomplete.

You have an operating system, you are free, like you can just now take it run with it because our real back end, as I said, you is the acquisition side. We don't need a lot of those deals. You we do three or four of those a year, that those are very lucrative

Dustin: So, yeah, so you got the model you're doing, you've got people trained to do this really well. So you bring people in one on one, install the system.

And then, you sort of get to decide, I'm going to invite them into group coaching. Cause they're not, really investable in what we want to invest in our portfolio. But there are some, the chosen few here, like we should really be partners in [00:34:00] this.

Ryan: Or they don't need us. By the way, a lot of the people that go on our group coaching programs, they're just pretty good. Like they got their crap together. And so we don't feel like we can add enough value to be able to do the kind of deal that we want to do.

So they're like, this is great. And they're like, but love, you mean it, Ryan, I don't need just business partner. Like you don't, but let's hang around. let's keep learning from each other. That's actually more likely the case than they're not, investable just to kind of clarify.

Dustin: That's a great distinction. I thought they came up and we'll turn to the closing part of this and let you teach us a smart strategy.

But I thought they came up and this is something I. personally struggled with and say the last six months, or last six months of last year, I should say before that kind of January moment where I got a lot of clarity, lot of people again, listening, or there may be approaching that half a million and they have this idea that like.

I'll just get the half million and then I'll be cool. I'll just like, perfect. I'll just hang out there. Kind of like you were saying, like, I'll get the 10, 000 a month and I'll never need more. I actually got started with a marriage business. [00:35:00] That's why I came to the machine. Live was actually grow, engage marriage back in the day.

And I fell in love with marketing and, Went off to the races on that. But one thing we used to teach married couples all the time is like your marriage while you might want it to be, and you may think it is in the moment is never static. It's always growing or dying. that's how we are as humans.

And so I kind of had this realization that like my business can't just stay between 500 and a million, because when you try to do that, what actually happens is you get bored. if you're a creative entrepreneur, that's boring. it starts to become redundant so I started for the first time ever starting to feel like burnt out.

And it wasn't even as much the exertion as it was like, gosh, this just feels like I'm on a hamster wheel. It's like crap different day. that's when I'm like, I need to decide to grow this in a smart way. Cause if I don't, what actually happens is you burn it down. And then you go start something new. So am I capturing reality?

Cause you're dealing with a lot of people in this zone of like. Am I moving forward? And what does that look like versus this idea, this false assumption? I can just stay status quo.

Ryan: Yeah, flatlines typically don't stay flat for very long. Gravity is ultimately going to [00:36:00] win. And so you're right. Most of the entrepreneurs we work with, that I know, when they start to hit that kind of swamp of scale and things do start to flatline, oftentimes respond a couple of predictable ways.

One of them is just denial. I'm going to just keep doing what I've been doing and eventually it's going to fix itself. And that is when you start to have this kind of downward spiral. That's when they're just like throw more resources at it without any real plan flailing around.

And that is when you get into this death spiral where your expenses are going up fast and while your sales are declining and you start burning out your list and doing things that degrade the brand and ultimately there's no value left whatsoever. And the business just implodes.

That's what happens with denial. you've got to realize that the game has changed. the other thing that I've seen people do is sabotage. So they'll sabotage their business, they'll blow it up, they'll throw a hand grenade in the whole thing, so that they can basically start over again at the growth phase.

And they will just repeat that cycle over and over again. And there's a lot of names that I'm not going to mention would recognize who, you know, I mean, you see this like every couple of years, they're back [00:37:00] with a totally different business and totally different brand. They blew up the last one, and they're just in that endless cycle build, sabotage, implode and repeat.

I guess if you like that sort of thing, you can do it. It seems exhausting to me, and it certainly isn't creating any long term, lasting, sellable, you know, exitable value. option that I prefer is to recognize that the game has changed, to level up, to choose scale. Now, I like that option because it does, in the long term, give you more freedom.

Now, new work, It is harder in the beginning. It's almost like another start. it's not a cold start, and I actually think it's fun because it's solving new problems. Once somebody gives you the playbook on what to do, then it's fun. It's frustrating as hell when all you know is what I've been doing isn't working anymore, and you don't have any new ideas.

That's when it's frustrating. But people think like, oh, you know, to scale to have all these employees like, I don't want that. I just want a really simple business. tell you, you'll never have true freedom until you have other people building your business for you. That's true freedom. that is as free as you can get the only fear you will get is when is the day you sell your [00:38:00] company and you got a big old pot of money and that feels pretty great too.

But then you don't have the business anymore and you gotta find something else to do. There is another option and that is just to decide I'm going to run a boutique business. It is not for everyone. In my experience, it's not for most entrepreneurs that they're being honest because most of us are like you described.

We bore easily, but I do know that there are some entrepreneurs who have managed to build, you know, a really solid and some of these people get into the, multi millions, their margins will be through the roof. literally taking home millions of dollars a year in a, one person business with a couple of supporting staff running it as a boutique.

That works as long as you're always on the right side of the supply demand curve. As long as you always have more demand, you continue to raise your prices, you can be hyper selective about the clients that you work with. That can work. and so I don't think it's necessarily a bad business model. And in that case, the way that you up level is you work with, better and more interesting clients.

So you're hyper selective about your clients. That's where the creativity comes from. [00:39:00] But that is more for people who are that grinder mindset, people who they're the craftsperson mindset, the artist mindset.

I just want to have a handful of and they're out there and many of them are entrepreneurs, but most of the entrepreneurs bore too easily to choose that path. So if you're being honest as an entrepreneur, the only real long term path to wealth and freedom is scale. what we talked about, it really is your only option.
It really is your only option realistically.

Dustin: Love that, man. this is the best part of having a podcast, right? I'm like, I'm getting consulting from my mentor on the exact things that I've been wrestling with.

Ryan: could have asked me about these things anytime because we're in a freaking mastermind. You're my mastermind. Like, you didn't have to wait until the podcast to do this, but, but I'm glad that everybody else is getting to listen in.

Dustin: Well, it's funny. this is a little fun facts. I'm, quite introverted. was just funny. Cause like I talk about podcast guesting and selling to, by telling your story and all that. But, you know, Ryan, one of the interviews I had listened to right before I met him in person at the mastermind was same thing. He's like, I can speak on stages in front of thousands of people, but having a small talk, being in a little group and [00:40:00] like doing a happy hour, makes my skin crawl

And so we're like at this happy hour at the mastermind. So I just kind of came over and started talking and I think we both felt this comfort or like we turn our backs on like having too much small talk and just like we started talking about our families and then he, uh, hopefully doesn't feel like it was a mistake now as we're wrapping up the interview.

But he said something like, I don't go speak for fun or whatever it is, but I never say no to podcasts. I love that. I'm like, Oh, you want to be on mine? Then it's like, how are you going to say no in the moment? So I use that to my advantage.

Ryan: Yes. and a lot of entrepreneurs are, introverts. So if you're an entrepreneurial introvert, you're in very good company.

Dustin: Absolutely. Absolutely. So you've taught a lot. Don't feel like you have to teach anything else, but if you want to take two minutes and kind of like, one quick strategy or tactic from your book, get scalable or anything else to kind of wrap this up here with a smart strategy.

Ryan: Yeah. So I want to give you a strategy. It's not one in the book though. because I want to give everybody a strategy that's going to make them money because we talked a lot about systems and things like that. What I'll tell you about the book. I said before, I had a course that I was selling and I was selling, we were selling this course [00:41:00] anywhere, depending on the number of calls and what came bundled with it for three to 5, 000.

What I did with the book is I literally took everything that I taught in a three to 5, 000 course. And it's in the book, it's not like transcripts or like, it's actually like a real book been, written and professionally edited and all that stuff. And by me, not AI.

Dustin: Yeah. And I believe it. Visuals in here look like they came from a course. it's pretty

Ryan: exactly. Because that's what it started out as. So there's nothing in the book, including all the templates, all the resources, which are freely available inside the book, every bit of content, every bit of knowledge and information, all the tools that were in a three to 5, 000 course are now in the book.

Right. that's there. And if you go to Amazon, it's, 20, 30 bucks, depending on if you get the hardback or the paperback show you how to get, talk about how to get it free later, but because the book is there and it's again, it's 20 bucks. I don't think I'm doing anybody a service. I want to give somebody something that will make them money.

So here's the question I'm always asking and what our focus and our strategy is. Anytime we're going in and evaluating what we call growth engines, Your acquisition engine. [00:42:00] How do you go about getting new customers and clients? Everybody wants to solve for the traffic side of the equation. How do I get more clicks? How do I get more traffic? You know, how do I get, you know, oh, the algorithm did this to me.

And so, my engagement is way down, blah, blah, blah, blah, Everybody wants to solve for the traffic side. I believe and have always believed and have taught that there's no such thing as a traffic problem.

There are only offer problems. If you have a good enough offer that generates a fast enough return on investment, you can buy all the traffic you want. And so I'm a big believer in traffic is the commodity. It's soap. If you wanted soap right now, you wouldn't think, how do I make soap?

You'd drive down the street or you'd pull up Uber, you know, whatever, and you'd have some, soap for whatever the heck soap costs. Traffic is soap. It's a commodity. That's not the problem to solve for.

The problem to solve for, the real problem, is how can we be able to spend whatever it costs to get these, clicks? and to do that, the game that you've got to play is how do we get the people who are qualified and ready to buy our [00:43:00] most expensive thing to raise their hand and buy that now what I've always taught and what most people do the traditional funnel model is you bring somebody in for free, you then sell them a low ticket item, you then sell them something that's a little bit more expensive, and then you sell them something that's maybe the most expensive and that kind of march him up the ladder funnel work for years and years and years and years.

And guess what? It doesn't freaking work anymore. Cause traffic costs are too high. So what we now need to figure out is we need to figure out how do we split the journey? Because in every business, there are always 3 percent of the list, 3 percent of your leads, 3 percent of the people hitting your webpage, 3 percent of the folks are ready, willing, and able to buy your most expensive thing right now. The problem is, They're invisible.

You don't know who these people are when they come to your website or when they opt in. So here's the trick. Here's the tactic. What is one question that you can ask everybody who opts into whatever you're having them opt in for, where they would indicate that they are qualified. Now, this could be for us at the scalable company.

We ask revenue because again, [00:44:00] we know that if somebody is not doing at least a million dollars, 2 million, they don't yet have the pain. Now it doesn't mean that we can't still serve the folks who are at a smaller level, but they're likely not qualified to invest in our most expensive, highest level thing.

We'll sell everybody a book. But we're not going to talk to you about our, you 15, 18, 000 programs you know, if you're not doing a million, 2 million a year. So that's one question. Every business has this. If you're clear on who your 10 X person is that, ideal client. Not your avatar, but your ideal, the bullseye, the people you can do the absolute best for that are willing, excited to buy your most expensive thing.

What is one question that you could ask them on the opt in page? So name, first name, email address, and then one qualifying question drop down, could be a drop down, could be a yes, no. A digital marketer, by the way, it's are you agency consultant or freelancer serving small businesses? If yes, we've got a certified partner licensing program that we can talk to them about. So it can't be that.

We had a client, who sold [00:45:00] underwater headphones for swimmers and he had different levels and entry level one to sell the most expensive. He's like, unless somebody is swimming three times per week. On average, they're not going to buy the most expensive headphones. That was his question.

How many times on average do you swim? that's your first thing. What is your qualifying question? Then if they are qualified, you don't want to try to upsell them a whole bunch of things. You want to then ask them a question to indicate, Hey, if you're right now, it's because obviously you're kind of a big deal.

You answered that you're qualified. what I want to find out is basically, do you want some extra help? Do you want some extra attention? are you ready right now to work with us more directly to, to get the end result that you want? 3 percent of the people are going to be both qualified and ready.

Those 3 percent will more than offset all of your acquisition costs will more than offset. But if you wait until they find you, not going to be able to do it in time. So that is what we do. We split our funnels when they're coming through qualified, ready, we're going to show them our most expensive thing, non qualified or not ready. They're going to 00:46:00] see something else. Maybe a traditional funnel.

Dustin: Yeah. you opened with that at TNC this year. And then it's the only presentation I take only screenshots and I'm sending it to people and then. the very next mastermind, my mastermind that I was hosting, I was like, you got to see this ready now funnel from Ryan Dyson.

Yeah, we implemented it. It's, totally makes sense. And having you explain it here, to reiterate it again, for me, it was awesome. And so anyone else still listening, hit back, like two minutes, listen to that several times and let it sink in. But if you're selling any kind of high ticket service, or high ticket offer, getting the people who are ready and hot and.

They really want the help now, pulling them out and getting on a call with you and doing the thing that you do for your sales conversion immediately is where all the money's at. And because if you try to nurture them and make them buy a low ticket, they don't want a low ticket thing.

They want a solution. So someone who's looking in there in pain, they're like, yeah, I'm glad to give you 15, 000 to install an operating system in the next three months.

I don't, they're not like going to go through a course and they're like, they're not that. So, and I, yeah, the whole value ladder and all the things that, you know, the Ascension [00:47:00] model that we all grew up with in the digital marketing world.

Ryan: I taught. I taught it. And it was true back then. And it's not true anymore. Yeah, don't force them to walk, to march up a value ladder. Give them the freaking elevator.

Dustin: And if you want to see. If you want to see this, go to scalable. co, right? The main, the main website.

Ryan: Yeah, scalable. co. Um, You know, this is we're so inadequate in this area. I don't know if that particular. I don't know what offers we have on there that would link and go directly to it. But if somebody searches, we've got like our CEO scorecard. If you go in and opt in for our CEO scorecard, which I believe is available, then yes, you will be asked the question.

And depending on how you answer, you will be sent down one or more paths. And I will say this applies. Everybody should have some high ticket something. You got to have it. There needs to be a top Um, you know, everybody should have it, even if, if you're retail and it's, do you want to wholesale it? Right. Does somebody want to do multi, like larger packages of things?

Dustin: Yeah. It's like Starbucks started selling like super expensive expresso machines, right? It's like, well, [00:48:00] somebody, somebody will buy it. It's like 3 percent of people will want it. So, all right, Ryan. Well, this has been amazing.

Uh, sorry, we went over time, but, uh, just so much knowledge bombs here to, uh, to absorb. So I do want to get us wrapped up and get you on, on your way to your next obligation.

Uh, so we talked about the book a lot. Uh, And I'm assuming that's maybe the next step for most people. So what's the best way for people to follow you and get this book? Oh,

Ryan: available on Amazon, you can buy it there and that's, and that's great. Um, yeah. I think my margins are actually better if you buy it on Amazon, because if you go to get scalable dot com forward slash free, you can get the book for free. You're just paying the 8. 20. I think it is shipping and handling, and it really is just the cost of shipping.

We're eating the cost of the book. My goal is to eradicate entrepreneurial imposter syndrome. I don't want entrepreneurs firing themselves on a bad day. I want entrepreneurs to know that you have what it takes to scale. Um, you don't need adult supervision. You don't need a freaking integrator.

Okay, you got this. Yes, [00:49:00] yes, build the systems and hire the people to do the stuff for you. Um, but you got it.

We've got the playbook for it. You know, it's 10 to 20 bucks to 30 bucks, depending on where you get it and how you get it. And so I would love for everybody to start there, especially if you're in that half a million dollar range. Reading it now, even if you take no action whatsoever, you'll have the context on what to do.

At least you won't be surprised if you're in the one to 2 million range and you like what you see in the book, maybe we can talk about working together more seriously. There's opportunities to do that on the other side of the book.

Uh, and if you want to just connect with me directly, uh, I'm on, uh, Twitter, twitter. com forward slash Ryan dice. Um, that's actually me and my DMS are open and I always love to hear from people who heard me on this podcast or any other ones. If you got some value from it, um, makes me feel good. So.

Dustin: that's amazing. So yeah, highly, highly, highly recommend the book. Anyone listening to this podcast, this is relevant to you. Again, you might need it right now or. It's certainly not bad to do whenever, uh, but you're, you're going to need it in the future. Cause you're, you're going to scale, uh, as, as we, as we unpacked here.

So Ryan, again, super honor to [00:50:00] have you, uh, get scalable. com slash free, uh, go take advantage of this, uh, this, this awesome offer to get the book shipped to you for free. Uh, well, you, you just pay for the shipping, uh, and, uh, Yeah, that's it.

Get scalable dot com slash free again. Thanks so much for the honor. Uh, can't can't wait to see you again in Austin at the next mastermind meeting and uh, yeah, yeah, just thank you. Lots of gratitude!

Ryan: buddy. Likewise. Thanks so much for having me. It was a ball. Appreciate you!

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