Luisa Zhou is a serial entrepreneur and online educator who teaches people how to leave their day-to-day jobs and start their own six figure plus business working for themselves. She’s helped hundreds of students, coaches, designers, copywriters, and consultants and shown them how to launch businesses that generate anywhere between $10 and $100,000 in just a matter of months. She’s appeared in numerous online publications including Forbes, INC, Entrepreneur Magazine, and a lot more.
In This Episode
Relationships are delicate. Not just romantic relationships but relationships between customers and businesses. Luisa Zhou emphasizes the importance of maintaining these close relationships, creating new connections, the unlimited opportunity provided to modern entrepreneurs, and much more in this weeks episode of Modern Ontrapreneur.
0:53 From Tutoring High School Kids to Coaching
What may seem like a natural transition was really a long and winding road.
2:53 Let Go of Your Frustrations
Is this the business I want to spend the rest of my life on?
4:06 Connecting With Your Clients
Don’t make your clients feel belittled; instead, motivate and inspire your clients.
4:06 Connecting With Your Clients
Focus on your customers and being your brand before you scale too fast.
7:28 The Struggle
Scaling while maintaining those close relationships.
9:11 You Can Do It
Inspiring people to accomplish their dreams and goals.
10:00 Unlimited Opportunity
With today’s technology, there’s virtually no overhead with the ability to reach billions of people.
LR: Welcome to Modern Ontrapreneur. I’m Landon Ray, and I have Luisa Zhou with me today, who’s a serial entrepreneur, online educator who teaches people how to leave their day-to -day jobs and start their own six figure plus business working for themselves. She’s helped hundreds of students, coaches, designers, copywriters, and consultants and shown them how to launch businesses that generate anywhere between $10 and $100,000 in just a matter of months. She’s appeared in numerous online and publications including Forbes, INC, Entrepreneur Magazine, and a lot more. Thank you so much for being here today.
LZ: Thanks for having me.
LR: Tell me, first of all, when you got started. How long has it been?
LZ: I’ve been in this business for about three years. I started my first business about ten years ago.
LR: What was that?
LZ: Tutoring business.
LR: What made you switch from tutoring into coaching?
LZ: It was a long journey actually. Moved from tutoring, and that was just realizing it wasn’t something I wanted to spend my life doing. After that, went into digital mobile payments. We just missed our window there.
LR: You started a business?
LZ: Yeah. Worked on it for a while, but then with stripe, square and apple pay, it really just wasn’t taking off. Then I went into digital advertising. Then that’s when I realized the corporate world is not really what I thought it would be, so I struck out on my own again to really provide digital advertising services. That’s when I realized that there was this whole world of people who wanted to build their own businesses but didn’t necessarily have someone speaking specifically to them.
LR: You started about three years ago, and you started doing what? Just coaching and saying, “I’ll take you on as a personal client.”
LZ: Yes, that’s how I started.
LR: Did it just work right out of the gate or what happened?
LZ: No, I actually tested lots of different things before realizing that this was the market. I started, first, actually teaching Microsoft Excel. Then career coaching. Had a little bit of success with that but realized, again, it wasn’t really something I wanted to build a true business around. Then went into digital consulting. About three years ago was when Facebook ads were becoming really popular. That’s what I did at my corporate job at the time. I started taking my first clients, managing their ads for them. Grew that business into a good business. That’s when I had people start coming to me asking, “How did you do this while in a job? How did you use it to replace your income?” I realized that, wow, there’s a really great market here, and I would love to speak to that.
LR: Relatively long and winding road it’s been to get here.
LR: If you could go back and tell your earlier self a bit of advice, some wisdom that would make that process easier or less painful or faster, what would it be?
LZ: I wish there was something I could say to that. I think the biggest thing is just try and not feel so frustrated all the time because I remember just constantly thinking, “Is this the business I want to spend the rest of my life on? Am I going to be building something that I truly care about? Am I doing enough, growing enough at every single stage?” It makes for a very miserable life. What I would tell myself is that, I mean, like Steve Jobs said, “Looking back, the dots connect in of themselves.” That’s what I would say. Everything has a reason. Learn what you can from that. Do the best you can and trust that the next step will unfold when the time’s right.
LR: Do you still imagine that this is the business you’ll do for the rest of your life or would you give yourself a break about that?
LZ: Yeah, I’m a little bit nicer to myself about that. I love what I do. I’m very passionate about it. I don’t know that this is my last business.
LR: What do you feel like is your unique skill set that allows you to be successful through all this stuff?
LZ: I think the biggest thing is I am able to motivate people and connect with them in a way that makes them feel what they want to achieve is not impossible. They don’t feel belittled when they speak to me, they feel inspired and motivated. Then, of course, they realize that there is a way to do it. I would say that’s my big skill.
LR: Right. You got quite a bit of experience from the outside in, looking at businesses. You get to see new businesses all the time. Is there something that stands out for you that you kind of see all the time, like the first thing you can tell businesses, “Here’s what you need to do right now. Here’s the thing that 70% of the businesses you see are lacking.”
LZ: Yeah. It’s different phases, but the first thing for a new business that I see is they try and scale too quickly. They try and be too big before they’re ready. They think, “How can I systematize this? How can I remove myself from the business? How can I be the big CEO?” before they’re ready, and I would say, instead, focus first on building relationships, on being your brand if that’s what it is, connecting with your customers because that’s what’s gonna separate you from everyone else in a crowded industry. The growth, becoming that CEO, that’s gonna come with time. Don’t try and do it too early.
LR: That’s so interesting. Do you mostly work with people in New York?
LZ: No, actually.
LR: All over the world?
LR: That’s like the opposite thing as what I hear most of the time, which is that entrepreneurs tend to be super concerned that if they hand anything off, it’s not gonna be done as well. Then letting go of responsibility is the hardest thing that we deal with. I don’t hear people going like, “I shouldn’t have to do this,” very often. Why do you think that you … are you tracking those people in some way, or what is it?
LZ: I think I attract very ambitious, very system-focused people. That is something I talk about. It’s not so much that … actually, they do have trouble delegating. They do want to do everything themselves, but it’s more of a, “Do I really need to be speaking to every single person? Do I really need to be doing these live streams? Can I be more removed and write more emails?” That kind of thing.
LR: They want to be scalable before they’ve really even figured out necessarily how to talk to a customer.
LR: Or how to deliver value even.
LZ: Or how to create a product before they even really understand the true service that they’re providing.
LR: Do you think that’s driven by the environment that we live in where people are getting told that everything is a magic bullet?
LR: Yeah, so what do we do about that as a community?
LZ: I think it’s important to set real expectations to share the behind the scenes. We hear this all the time, but it’s not emphasized enough. There is no such thing as an overnight success, but when we hear these stories about how quickly businesses have been built in any industry, I think it’s easy to forget that. I think it’s important to take us back to that. I think another thing is also to redefine success not by just our numbers, but by the impact we’re having on our community no matter how small it is because every person that you change, that’s their life. They don’t feel like a number. They’re not a number to themselves.
LR: Yeah, interesting. Speaking of showing the behind the scenes, tell me about your business and what you’re struggling with. What are you working on? What is the next problem you need to solve or the thing you need to learn?
LZ: My biggest problem right now is the same thing that we were just talking about, which is scaling while I maintain a relationship with my customers. As you know, the online, especially the course industries, is so crowded. I don’t want to be just another course where you never have any relationship other than with the course material. I’m struggling to scale that to support more people while giving them the support that they need.
LR: How you gonna do it?
LZ: I don’t have the answer right now. We are working on building out more support staff, more coaches. We’re adding more interesting things, like unification, to our courses, make it more interactive, and fun follow-up scripts. It’s a work in progress.
LR: Yeah. Seems like there are three paths that coaches tend to go on. They either productize their thing and sell it off the shelf, or they do the model where you certify coaches and have them doing their thing all over the thing, or you just charge a crap ton more money, maybe even take part of the business or whatever it might be. Does one of those call to you? Are you gonna do all three? What is your plan?
LZ: No, definitely not the second two that you mentioned. I’m leaning more towards the first one but with a more personalized touch. I just haven’t figured out the perfect way to do it yet.
LR: So you’ll just experiment?
LR: Or you’ll sleep on it and have an epiphany?
LZ: Both. Hopefully the latter but probably mostly experiment.
LR: You’re obviously young, at the beginning of your career. Do you have a sense of the big picture, what it is that you’re building? What is your legacy gonna be about?
LZ: I hope my legacy is to really inspire people to know that they can do whatever it is they want. In my own personal experience, I had a lot of people who didn’t believe in me at every stage no matter what it is I wanted to do. I really want people to realize that if you believe in yourselves, to have that confidence in yourself, it doesn’t really matter what the rest of the world is saying. There is a way for you to accomplish it. It is possible to overcome fear, lack of confidence. That’s really the legacy I want to leave people with.
LR: Yeah, awesome. We call this thing Modern Ontrapreneur because we are trying to sort of shine a light on what it means to be an entrepreneur in this unique moment in our history. We have all these new opportunities to reach out to people. I’m curious what you think, A, what those opportunities are, and B, what are the responsibilities that come with the power that we have in this moment?
LZ: There’s unlimited opportunity. You can literally do whatever you want with the lowest cost in overhead possible in ever.
LZ: I remember when we were building the mobile payment startup. To even get started we needed hundreds of thousands of dollars for the hardware alone. In just a few years, the world has changed so much. It’s incredible. I would say that the opportunity is, you truly, you can reach millions, billions of people right now at the lowest cost, largest scale ever in the history of the world. You can create something truly meaningful for the lowest cost ever. You can outsource. You can … I mean, like I said, unlimited opportunity.
LR: Almost overwhelming.
LZ: The responsibility is to truly create something that adds value, that is meaningful, not just to make a quick buck for yourself.
LR: Yeah, awesome. Luisa, thank you so much for being here. It’s been a total pleasure.
LZ: Thanks so much.
LR: Would you sign our wall?
LZ: Yes, I would love to.
LR: Thank you.
Want more Modern Ontrapreneur Podcast?
Check out the previous episode featuring Eric Collins of Agile Remodelers.