511: Two Hard Truths You All Need To Hear & Nobody Will Tell You

Today’s topic was inspired by a recent team meeting that got me fired up about the unrealistic client strategies that some influencers in the online marketing industry are promoting. Many entrepreneurs are being sold the dream of an easy, automated business with a membership funnel that generates recurring revenue month after month. But as someone who has built a successful business and seen behind the scenes of six, seven, eight, and nine figure businesses, I can tell you that this is not the reality. 

In this episode, I’ll be sharing two hard truths: there is no such thing as a fully automated business, and membership funnels are not the easy solution that they’re being marketed as. If you’ve wanted to dive deeper into the reality of building a successful business, tune in! 


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Emily Hirsh:

Hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. I am excited for today’s episode. It is inspired, almost fresh off of a team meeting where I was getting like super fired up just because we were talking about different client strategies, what was working, what’s not working, and what came up was essentially a belief and a, I guess you could call it a goal that some of our clients have come in with that we’ve had to kind of steer and correct because it’s not realistic with the where the industry is. But what got me really fired up was that it was coming from being a part of other programs. There is a specific one in this industry and something that was being taught by an influencer, let’s just say in this industry. And I have talked about this plenty of times on the podcast, just the fact that so many of the bigger names in the online marketing industry point a, paint a picture of ease in their business.

But I don’t think it’s always on purpose, but don’t share with you guys the full picture in reality. And so I was just getting super fired up because honestly, what pisses me off the most about it is that I just think it’s so irresponsible. Like to, to paint this picture and to utilize it to sell people into a program, you know, and sell a outcome or or dream that they probably know is not really as easy as they paint it, but that it works for their marketing. It just creates this place where a lot of entrepreneurs think it’s just them. Why it’s not working, or they have this goal or this, this vision of how things should be, and it doesn’t work out that way. And they’re super frustrated because they were told that this is possible. And they were also, you know, shown that so-and-so did it or other people did it.

But the, but they weren’t given the full picture. And so this came up around the idea of an automated business and utilizing a membership funnel to create an automated business with reoccurring revenue and the, the basically the vision, the dream to be able to have that. And here, here’s the thing I have, these are two hard truths I’m gonna tell you guys. One, there is no such thing, 0% of an automated business, it does not exist. And I feel so passionate about this because even more so today, does it not exist as it did five years ago,

Seven years ago? Like there was elements that you could automate 100% of your marketing and of your business, but an automated business doesn’t exist. Find me one, and I’ll show you. It’s not automated because there are systems, there is a team, there is process, and there is constant refinement happening in the backend of every business that’s successful at least. The second hard truth is, I am not a fan of membership funnels, <laugh>. And I’m just gonna say why on here? Because this picture is being painted of create a membership launch. Launch a membership. It’s really low cost and it’ll be super easy to sell because it’s low cost. And you’re gonna have all this recurring revenue in your business and it month over month, you’re gonna make money and it’s gonna be super easy. And it’s just such bs like honestly, it will not work.

So let’s talk about both of these. First of all, the automated business, no such thing does not exist. If you are in business to not work, please just quit unless you have the investment to pay a team and to not just pay VAs, but pay a high level team like executives to run your business, it is not gonna run without you. It is not gonna be automated. Yes, you can build a lifestyle of more freedom and more flexibility. Like I am able to go travel anytime I want. My schedule is my own. My team does run without me. My company does run without me, but I still work. I still work my ass off. And I go through seasons where I work harder than others, but I still show up. I still set expectations. I still look at our delivery and improve it. I’m still very involved in our marketing.

Does my company, could I go a week without working? Yeah, two weeks, yeah, probably a month. Yes, I could. Is my company fully gonna run without me while I work two hours a day and sit around and manifest? No, it doesn’t exist unless I was to hire and pay a CEO like $200,000 a year salary. Somebody who’s at that level who could run my company, then maybe. So if you look at someone who’s like an investor in companies and weighs in and supports, okay, maybe then it’s running without them. Not the same thing. An automated business doesn’t exist. And if you are in business for it to be easy, either change your expectations or go get a job. And I know that sounds so mean, but it is so frustrating to me when people go into business because they’re like, oh, because I don’t wanna work.

Because I feel that that does such a disservice to one people that they potentially have an audience for. But two, it makes it seem like the people who have created success, they didn’t have to do very much, which is just not the case. So what drives me even more crazy is when the people who have created success try to make it look easy and don’t show you the truth. And I know the truth because number one, I have built my own business to multiple seven figures. But number two, I have seen behind the scenes, the six, the seven, eight, the nine figure businesses. It is not easy. If you were in it for it to be easy walk away, can it be fun? Can it be rewarding? 100% When you get to set your own schedule and you have the freedom and you don’t have an income ceiling and all of these positives, they’re all worth it, right?

But it’s not easy. If it was easy, everybody would do it. And so this idea, this idea of let me build a business where I don’t have to work, and where this frustrates me the most is when I go to a business owner client or let’s just say a friend, like sometimes I’m in groups at, at an event or whatever, and somebody will ask a question and I’m, I’m really good at answering questions. Like I’m really good at getting to the root and being like, boom, boom, boom, here’s your problem. And where I get the most frustrated is when someone asks a question to solve a problem that they have, and I tell them an answer that I know will solve the problem. Now I’m pr like pretty sure it’ll solve the problem. And they’re like, well, that’s just too much work. Like I, I don’t wanna have to launch a new product or I don’t wanna have to change my offer that much, or I don’t wanna have to do a live launch.

It’s like, okay, then then don’t make money <laugh>. Like if you don’t wanna have to work, if you don’t wanna have to shift and pivot, then stay where you are and stay with that as your problem. And so I get the most frustrated when I give someone an amazing solution and I tell them the path and they’re like, well, it’s just too much work. I don’t wanna do it. It’s like, okay, then, then don’t complain that you have the problem anymore. And I, I am all for simple. I think sometimes I do overcomplicate things in my own marketing and I do too much work. So that’s something I work on. Like I’m all for keeping it simple, keeping it focused 100%. But it’s not easy. And I talked about that last week. So this idea of automation, there is this, this individual who is teaching memberships easy, recurring revenue.

It’s so easy in your business if you just look deeper at their business. They are one <laugh> constantly live, launching, constantly doing different marketing promos. Number two, been around for 10 years. So what worked for them 10 years ago is what they’re still teaching that it’s easy for you. They haven’t adapted to the market. They haven’t shifted and changed because they don’t need to because they have a massive warm audience. The online gurus who have been here for over a decade are really incredible entrepreneurs. Like I give them all props. I’m not trying to talk bad about any of them. A lot of them are my friends who have been those people who have been here for a long time that you guys look up to whoever they are, if they’ve been here for 10 plus years, they are gonna have it so much easier than you do because they built an audience when it was super cheap and easy to build an audience.

Amy Porterfield, Jenna Kutcher, Russell Brunson, all these guys have been around for a long time now. They’ve worked hard and I’m not discrediting at all what they’ve done. They worked hard, they stayed consistent, they built an audience, they built an email list and now they’re, they get to reap the benefit of that good for them. But you cannot go do exactly what they have done with your audience size unless it matches theirs. Because these guys can go out and they can put out an offer and it will sell. And they don’t even have to fully do a good job, to be honest. They do do a good job, but they don’t have to because they have an audience who loves them, who will buy anything they put out that is different than somebody just starting out who is not even hit a million dollars yet.

Maybe even let alone six figures. You’re not on the same page as them. You haven’t earned that yet. You don’t have that audience. That’s also why having an audience in a list is such an asset to your business. But even with this, this idea of an automated business, it doesn’t exist because these things that are happening that you don’t see on the backend, maybe it looks like, okay, they have a funnel that’s running for them and it’s constantly bringing in leads. Great, they should, but I guarantee you the messaging is constantly updating and being shifted and changing. They’re constantly trying new things, testing out new things. They are shifting and updating their offers or launching new offers or expiring offers that aren’t working anymore. They’re testing new things on their social media. They’re running ads, they’re trying new videos, they’re looking into things. They’re, they are constantly, they’re all hard workers.

I know all these people and they are not working one hours or two hours a day and just their business just runs and they’ve made it let alone, they all have teams. And so also, if you don’t have a team or you are, you know, you have a couple of team members, it’s still not the same. And ultimately you don’t want an a fully automated business because if you had a fully automated business, it might work for a little bit. But the second the market changes, the second that, you know, society goes through something or your audience needs something different, or there’s a shift in messaging or it’s a different season of the year and so people are experiencing something different, you’re gonna be behind. So stop making it the goal to not work hard, like seriously build your life. Like my goal is never, oh, I don’t wanna work very hard. My goal is I want freedom and I want flexibility to have the exact life that I want. Do I want to be able to work six hour days because that works for my schedule? Yeah, I do. Do I wanna have the flexibility to work out in the Middle the day if I want to or go in my sauna? Yep. Do I wanna have the flexibility to be able to travel and not have to do calls for two weeks because I went on two back-to-back trips? Yes. Was I still working and did I have to build around that and still show up? Yep. For all of that to happen. So define the exact life that you want. Fine. That’s so great. You should do that. And you should, you know, over time you’ll earn that. If you’re, if you’re below six figures, you’re not there yet, you don’t get to have that flexibility and freedom yet you’ve gotta hustle right now, you’re in that phase just like all of us did and define that, but don’t make the goal. I don’t wanna work. I don’t know, it just drives me crazy. This this like movement, I guess that’s online.

And usually the people who portray that are either not actually truly doing that, they are working really hard or again, they are very seasoned and they have a really big team and so they’ve earned that, right? And they’re, they’re paying for their time. So that’s the first thing. This thing about an automated business passive and this idea of like, well, if it’s, it’s too hard and it’s too much work for me, I don’t wanna do it. And it’s like, but that’s the thing that’s gonna get you results. My favorite clients and the people that I attract are the ones who are like, whatever it takes, whatever you say, I will do it, we’re gonna create success. That’s where the value I have of marketing always works is just a matter of when comes from. Because if you commit to action and you commit to showing up and you are consistent with that and you’re constantly moving forward, you will be successful, period.

But if you subscribe to this idea of it should be easy and I don’t wanna do a lot of work and I’m gonna do the same thing I did three years ago, well you’re gonna struggle probably. And the sooner you realize that, the better. The other thing I wanna point out here is that most people, this is a big problem. Most people who teach some sort of marketing or business, most of them, not all of them, but most of them are teaching you guys strategies that are from five years ago. And here’s the big problem that happens. A lot of influencers slash entrepreneurs slash digital product creators who teach business and marketing, they have some sort of success in their business and they did it a certain way and they learned and they learned all these valuable lessons and they have so much value to bring to their audience, right?

But then they start teaching and they start teaching those strategies and then over time, a year, two years goes by and they don’t update those strategies. They don’t change. And the problem is they have a team now. They’re not doing their own strategies, they’re not in the the weeds, they’re not bootstrapping things like they used to. They aren’t in there figuring it out and seeing what’s working and not working. So now they’re disconnected from what’s actually working. They’re basing their content and their teaching and their methods and their process around what worked 2, 3, 5 years ago, but they haven’t been in the weeds in, in that whole time. So they haven’t updated because they don’t know. And because they’re operating from a place of likely having a huge warm audience, which is not the same as someone with a small to non-existent warm audience. And, and then they teach this, that it’s like, it doesn’t work for 99% of the people.

And that’s the reason why. And a lot of people, a lot of these, these bigger programs that you’ll see around marketing and and business and you know, whether it’s a group program, I just ha okay, I just had this conversation with one of my clients who was in town and she’s like she said, you know, I signed up for this program before she worked with me and it was, it didn’t work for me. It was terrible, but so-and-so is clearly making a lot of money with it. And I said, no, they’re not. I know the backend of that business. They are not number one and number two, they’re teaching the same thing that they’ve been teaching for three or four years. What worked three or four years ago is no longer working. And I specifically knew that individual and I actually had advised them to do live launches because I was like, it’s critical that you update your messaging and you do a live launch and, and you refresh things to get sales.

And they were like, no, we’re anti live launching. We’re all about the automated business. We can’t do that. Three months later they’re doing a live launch. I don’t know the details of how it did, but I, I knew that that was an example of like, I knew the exact problem. I gave the suggestion and it was like, well that’s too much work. We want it to be automated and we’re not for live launches cuz that’s too much work. It’s like, well if that’s what’s gonna work. So that idea and also realizing are people teaching those old strategies, it’s gonna be very rare that you find people who are still in the weeds in this industry. That’s something that I feel I do really well. I still do client strategies. I’m still heavily involved in my marketing cuz I love it. But another reason I stay in the weeds in some cases and in some strategic ways is because I don’t wanna be disconnected because I don’t wanna be teaching things that worked a year ago but aren’t working today.

And I also never want my stuff to be in a box. Okay? We’re gonna talk about hard truth number two, membership funnels. So here’s the thing, there’s a lot of people who think membership funnels are a great idea because it’s reoccurring revenue and that’s like the big thing. And for the most part, I recommend people don’t do them unless you already have an established one. We have some clients who already have an established membership funnel and that’s great, keep that, we’re gonna fill that and then we’re gonna sell people into the next thing. But if you’re just starting out with a membership funnel, it’s tough. And here’s why you’re working so hard for that $27, $47, maybe $97 a month sale, and then you’re immediately fighting churn. So you sell 10 and you lose eight, you sell 10 again and you lose nine. So it’s really hard to get ahead.

The second thing is the amount that people are paying is usually low a hundred dollars or less, which is fine only if you have something to sell them into. Typically for like a good funnel, you’re gonna pay three months cost of your membership fee to acquire a new member. So that means if my membership is $50 and I’m doing really well with my marketing, I’m gonna pay $150 to get one member. And then once they get to month four, I start to profit from them. And that’s just my marketing cost. Okay? Now think about that from a cash flow perspective. You launch your membership and you build this and you go through this program that I’m talking about, and you launch your membership and you don’t have a lot of money, okay? Now you’re trying to get members, but you don’t have the money to front three months of acquiring members with a good marketing strategy.

For some people they spend a lot of money and they don’t get members. And then the other thing is, if you go look at any successful membership in this space or anyone, most of them two things. One, they’ve either been around for a really long time and they have a ton of members and they were able to acquire members when probably their product was one of the only in that space. So they were able to get people in there when it was a no-brainer. People signed up and they got thousands of members and they could float this cost. Number two, I can guarantee you that most of them have something higher level that those members are going to. And this individual that I’m talking about who teaches this, who you, you guys probably can guess who it is. Who I like this individual. I’m not trying to be a jerk about it, but I don’t agree with the marketing strategy.

 And I don’t agree with the portraying this the way that it is portrayed because I think they, I think this person knows it’s not realistic, but they have a mastermind. They have like a six figure mastermind, 10, $20,000 a year mastermind that they sell these members into. That is where they’re making their money. So why not be honest about that with their audience of no, the strategy is actually build a membership and then sell those members into something higher level. And once you can sell those members into something higher level, then you’re gonna make money in your business. So if you are at a beginning phase and you’re deciding your offer, or you have a business and you’re considering a membership, I am a much, much bigger fan of saying, why not sell a program for, you know, 4 97 and make it, you know, you get access to all this stuff and it’s like you get the upfront money which makes you profitable.

You could deliver what you know, the result that you were going to deliver through a membership, through a program. And also it’s actually easier to sell something like that because there is an end result for somebody. So if I sell you a program where in six weeks you’re gonna achieve this specific thing that’s actually more attractive to most people than sign up for my membership or you’re gonna stay forever and there’s no end, there’s no goal, right? That works sometimes, but I mean, if you’re looking at launching a new offer because you have a new business or because you wanna add an offer to your business, I just wouldn’t go the route of a membership because that idea of having recurring revenue, there’s better ways to do it in your business than a low cost membership. And all the good memberships I know, the money they’re making is on the back end.

And that takes a lot of time because first you gotta get the members in and then you gotta convert those members. That’s a six, 12 month game, which a lot of people don’t have that amount of time to start making money. So those are my two hard truths that you guys needed to hear. This is from a team meeting where I was like, are you kidding me? <Laugh>? Like I’m recording a podcast so you guys can reference it. And it’s not that I’m mad at, you know, a client or somebody for, for coming to me with this or coming to us with this at all because I don’t see it as their fault. What I’m mad at is the industry leaders who I think a lot of times it’s unintentional, but I do think sometimes it’s ignored. Like I think they’re not being intentional, like, hey, we’re gonna deceive people.

I think they convince themselves that it’s fine what they’re doing but they know deep down that it’s dishonest and misleading. And that’s what drives me the most crazy is because how could a new business owner or somebody who’s, you know, joining this program and trying to follow this process know any better? They don’t have that perspective. And so I’m not mad at the clients or you know, someone who comes to me with this, but I do set them straight and, you know, make strong recommendations that are backed by what I see working and not working. So, all right everybody, I knew this was gonna be a little bit of a spicy one. Thank you for listening. I will talk to you guys next week.