Quick—what can be as horrifying as going to The Upside Down dimension? As satisfying as annihilating a pack of Demodogs? An adventure with more twists and turns than Stranger Things?
Yup, it’s the road to business success.
As an entrepreneur, you must take great big leaps into parts unknown, parts unnerving, and parts uncertain.
At Mirasee, we certainly didn’t know what to expect when, in October 2016, we piloted the ACES Club, the most ambitious business-building program in the company’s history.
Ambitious because we promised to deliver bold outcomes for participants: They will accomplish more for their business during the program than they ever have before.
Ambitious because we endeavoured to scale what had previously only been possible through personal, one-to-one coaching with Danny (which is great, but cost-prohibitive for most people).
And ambitious because we demanded substantial commitment from participants: 12 months of their time, a relentless zeal for action, a significant investment of money, and tenacious trust that we would lead them to success.
ACES was so audacious that it could have made us fall flat on our faces. Maybe nobody would take us up on our cheeky offer. As bad as that would’ve been, it wasn’t the worst-case scenario. The worst thing that could’ve happened was for people to join the program… and not achieve what we promised.
Since that day in 2016, the ACES program has come a long way, and our participants have been making strides forward in their business that they say would never have happened if it were not for ACES.
Now, as we near the end of 2018, ACES students have gone on to achieve some of the following accomplishments…
- One ACES member recently closed a contract for $70,000 in new business.
- Another ACES student went from feeling uncomfortable charging $500 for her online course to having people gladly pay $2400 each to work with her for 3 months.
- Recently, an ACES student mentioned that she used to have no idea where she could possibly book speaking engagements for herself, but now she has been consistently been getting booked for 2-4 speaking events per month and has events booked out every month for the next five months.
- Another ACES member just filled his first pilot course with 10 excited students at $2000 per student.
- Someone who just finished up her first sprint, who had no professional experience in her business, said she met her income goals for the whole year in only 3 months.
There are so many more wins that we could mention, from personal development to mindset shifts to income boosts to conquering personal gremlins of procrastination or impostor syndrome. It’s incredibly rewarding to work with such a smart and passionate group of entrepreneurs who are going on to do big things.
“The work that we’ve done in the last 11 months has been totally accelerated by ACES. Had I not started the ACES program at all, I could say that maybe – I would have right now in the 11 month mark – maybe 3 months of progress. So I’ve been able to spring ahead, get forward, move in the direction that I wanted to with acceleration power.”
— Tina Powell, C Suite Social Media
In this post, you’re going to see behind the scenes of ACES, so you can learn from our experience and take giant leaps in your business, too.[toc]
A Million-Dollar Walk in the Woods
Danny Iny, Mirasee’s founder and CEO, first came up with the idea for the ACES Club by looking for gaps in the industry.
He thought of the entrepreneurs he met who spent tens of thousands of dollars on high-end business coaching programs but didn’t see any results. They just kept right on spinning their wheels.
“They’re high-caliber people, but often they’re nowhere in their business,” he recalls. “They have achieved nothing, they’re unclear about what they’re doing, they’re going in circles, sometimes even on the most basic things.”
And so Danny endeavored to close that gap with “real business coaching that is not specific to one or the other guru’s blueprint system.”
It had to offer the high-level, strategic guidance his private coaching clients were already enjoying, but at a more affordable price range. And it had to be scalable—not one-to-one coaching—with the potential to help hundreds of participants. After all, there’s only one Danny and, as talented as he is, even he has only 24 hours in his day.
Most of all, it had to deliver tangible results—which meant it had to have a daredevil of a guarantee, “partially because everyone should stand behind their promises,” he says, “and partially because that guarantee was the barometer that held us accountable to design a solid, robust program.”
And here’s the guarantee that meets those requirements:
First, our “Can’t Lose” Guarantee: You will generate AT LEAST enough additional revenue in your business to recover your investment in the ACES Club.
And second, our “Must Win” Guarantee: Over the course of the year, you will solve the biggest bottleneck problem that you face, setting you up to grow your business to the next level on our Expert Business Roadmap.
If you don’t meet either of these two targets, we’ll renew your ACES membership for as many 90-day sprints as it takes, at no expense to you – this includes additional sprint(s) of accountability, coaching, community, expertise, and implementation services completely free, to get you back on track to meet and exceed your goals.
The next question was, “What do we need to provide to make someone successful in business?”
We knew that the answer to this question needed to address the core difficulties that come with running a business. Entrepreneurship is difficult. It often comes with long hours, sleepless nights, a lot of self-doubt, and wearing many hats. The solution we developed came with five essential ingredients that now make up the ACES program.[clickToTweet tweet=”Want to grow your business? Here are the 5 essential ingredients:” quote=”Want to grow your business? Here are the 5 essential ingredients:”]
The 5 Essential Ingredients to Grow Your Business
Danny identified the key elements of business growth and captured them in the acronym, ACES:
The problem with being your own boss is it’s easy to let yourself off the hook. You procrastinate and renege on your lofty plans.
That’s why the first element of ACES is accountability. Each ACES participant has a dedicated coach who gets to know them, their businesses, their goals, and their challenges.
Taking action is baked into the program. Throughout the year, three 90-day sprints take place, with a brief respite in between. A sprint is a period of concentrated effort focused on achieving the participant’s specific goal.
Because ACES participants are in different businesses and different stages of growth, each sprint is different as well. One participant may aim to launch their website, another may aim to get 1,000 new email subscribers, while another may aim to do an entire product launch. ACES is no cookie-cutter program!
To track progress, participants have a weekly check-in with their coach…which brings us to the second ingredient.
“I wanted to build up my private practice, and after one sprint it’s pretty much exploding. I don’t have any room for more people and I’m kind of getting overwhelmed by the phone calls – so I’d say that I definitely met that goal. It’s a lot less financial stress, and it’s a lot of excitement because I have so many different areas where I can go…It just gives me a much greater vision… After being a part of the program and after just one sprint, I feel like they’ve been more than too good to be true, and they really met everything they said, plus!”
– Nechama Finkelstein
ACES coaches don’t just keep participants accountable. They also help them set goals, making sure they’re achievable. They help break down goals into smaller objectives. They help participants identify the appropriate strategies to accomplish those goals.
Most small business owners never have the luxury of having a business coach in the early stages of their business. But the lack of that outside perspective and coaching can set the business back months or years. There are so many pitfalls that a coach can help you to avoid.
Mindset is one of the biggest areas where coaching makes a difference. It’s hard to break free of your limiting beliefs by yourself. No matter how many business books you read, there’s simply no substitute for the ability of a real, live person walking alongside you. You coach can help you to identify the thought patterns that are unhelpful and steer you towards a different perspective.
Your coach in The ACES Club will also walk alongside you throughout the implementation and improvement of your business’ fundamental components. Are you unfamiliar with marketing or HR? Your coach can point you in the right direction where you’re uncomfortable or unfamiliar with a topic.
They help when you get get stuck. They spot the bottleneck that’s slowing down your production, and they can pinpoint ways to clear them. And, when necessary, coaches dish out tough love.
“Having the Mirasee coaches to draw on for encouragement, guidance and support has been awesome. They are truly invested in your success and doing the ACES program is like having everyone on your team.”
– Ingrid Awerbuch
There’s nothing quite as isolating as being alone, and people don’t realize what a lonely job it is to be a CEO until they’ve tried it.
Leadership is uncharted territory for many business owners. Your family and friends don’t understand you. They might be stuck in an employee mindset and simply can’t offer the support and peer interaction that you need at this season of your journey.
But the ACES members do experience this. As a member of ACES, you suddenly have private access to a dynamic, supportive peer group of smart and dedicated entrepreneurs like yourself. All of you are working through the program together, and you’re able to collaborate, invest in each other’s lives, cheer each other on, and share your knowledge with the group.
One of the ways that we cultivate this community feeling is through the use of Slack channels and video conference rooms that any ACES members can use at any time to meet with each other, discuss strategies, support each other, and explore ideas.
An even bigger way that we cultivate community is through three live, in-person mastermind events per year.
Between each 90-day sprint, we host a mastermind event where ACES members come to learn, grow, and do workshops together in person. These masterminds are in small group settings where you can get input on anything you need in your business and make plans for what your focus in the next 90-day sprint will be.
There’s nothing quite like having like-minded people around you who “get it.” The sense of community is one of the things that our ACES members enjoy and benefit from the most.
“The ACES team truly cares about our success and we are so grateful to be a part of the ACES community. We loved the idea of the ‘one-stop shopping’ for access to support services for our business, and we wanted to belong to a small community of like-minded business owners helping one another succeed.”
– Mara and Dori Zabari
Now accountability, coaching, and community only go so far, especially if you don’t actually know what to do next or if you lack the information or skills to move forward. Which brings us to…
4. Expert Insights
If you have questions or need expert insights, the ACES team will get you answers from anyone within the Mirasee organization (including Danny – this is the best way to get a direct line to him!), or anyone within Danny’s our extended network of partners, colleagues, and clients.
In other words, Danny wants to lend you his team so that whatever expert knowledge you need, you can get it.
There is a pattern to what you’re going through. Others have already walked this road before. There’s no need for you to reinvent the wheel if someone could simply hand you the pattern.
Access to this expertise is an element that helps entrepreneurs to succeed by leaps and bounds. You may know what you need to do, but you won’t always know how to do it. That’s when you need an expert, someone with the knowledge and experience necessary to solve your problem.
Again, for most startups and small business owners, it’s simply too expensive to hire experts for all the things that crop up in business. The business owner wears many, many hats. In addition, even when you do look for an expert, it’s hard to know who to trust.
But if ACES members need input or access to expertise, they’ll get it from the most qualified person in our organization to help.
Need a copywriter to review your sales page? Done.
Need guidance in project management or technology? Someone on the team can lend a hand.
And if we don’t have the expertise in-house, Danny reaches out to his extended network of partners, colleagues, and private clients to get it.
“I had no choice but to kick it into gear. With the feedback and resources I was given, I did not feel like I was going at it alone anymore. I have achieved more in my first 90-day sprint than I have for years prior to ACES!”
– Christina Ellis
The last component of ACES is implementation services. When you’re starting out in business, you tend to bootstrap and do everything yourself. But you have only so many hours in the day and so much energy to expend. Soon, the bottleneck in your business is you!
That’s why the sooner you can mobilize other people to implement for you, the faster your business will grow. But, again, it takes time and money to find and hire the right people.
And so, ACES provides 40 hours per year of implementation services from top-tier services providers we’ve vetted and worked with. Participants can use these hours to complete tasks they don’t have the bandwidth, interest, or expertise to do themselves. Examples include writing promotional copy, designing web pages, generating leads from cold traffic, and setting up marketing funnels.
Part of getting results is being able to actually implement the strategies that you’ll formulate, at a world-class level, and the services can help you get there.
“I’m excited to say that I’m finishing up my second pilot offer and best of all, I’m beginning to narrow down my messaging to attract more of my ideal clients. Ari’s support and guidance has been invaluable.”
— Steve Ventola, Founder of Whole Health Care
Why ACES is Different
ACES is built to expand on the typical coaching and mastermind experience by incorporating the following innovations.
90 Day Sprints Get You to Your Goals Faster
We divide up the year into 90-day sprints.
The object of a sprint is to create a tangible outcome within a 90-day timeframe. Each ACES member works with their coach to define which specific actions they need to focus on in order to increase revenue.
Every new sprint brings lots of possibilities, a fresh start, and energy to commit yourself to your goals. This approach helps you to build momentum and keep a sharp focus on doing the right work in the right order with the support of your coach.
On the last call of the sprint, it’s exhilarating to hear everyone’s wins, celebrate, and be inspired by the accomplishments that each ACES member has to report.
After each sprint is over, we have a one-month respite period, followed by another sprint where you can create a new set of goals.
“Over the past 90-days I was able to complete the content and delivery of my self-study virtual training. The training was so well received that the client requested to bring it in-house and the good news is they want to put another group through it. My focus has also been on creating a revolution in the corporate world and with the help of my coach, I’ve created a brand new positioning tool which has been very well received. My business is exploding and I’m excited to see where the next sprint takes me.”
— Diane Bolden, Founder of Diane Bolden Executive Coach
OKR’s to Keep You Accountable and Focused on Your Top Goals
OKRs are Objectives and Key Results. This is a tactic for tracking your progress that we’ve borrowed from some of the largest companies in the world because it is so effective to help with project completion. It’s a way of keeping you accountable and helping you to have visibility into how far you’ve come on the way to your goals.
If a business fails to execute, it won’t matter how effective the strategy was. OKR’s help you to actually execute on your plans and track your progress through the tasks that you’ve defined.
Objectives are the things that you’re after, the big “chunks” that you want to achieve by the end of the sprint. You set objectives by first getting clear on what your revenue goal is. Then, you define 1-3 objectives that will enable you to achieve that goal.
From there, for each objective, you list 3-5 Key Results that will enable you to make that happen. Key Results are things that are in your control and don’t depend on others, and you’ll define them very concretely so that it’s easy for you to tell whether you completed the key results or not.
Throughout the sprint, you and your coach will track your OKR’s so that you can see at a glance if you are keeping up or falling behind on hitting your targets by the end of the sprint. And after the sprint is over, we gather to share and celebrate everyone’s wins.
“Inbound marketing is starting to pay off… over the last 90-day sprint, we’ve had three companies reach out to us (they actually came to us, rather than us going to them!). I was also invited by a leading ERM software company to facilitate a deep dive workshop at their upcoming summit. Things are picking up speed, which is very exciting. ”
— Carol Williams, Founder of ERM Insights by Carol
Masterminds Where You Can Bring the Community Aspect to Life
During the one-month respite periods between sprints, we hold a live, in-person mastermind event where ACES members come to learn, grow, and do workshops together in person. These masterminds are in small group settings where you can get input on anything you need in your business and make plans for what your focus in the next 90-day sprint will be.
There’s nothing quite like having like-minded people around you who “get it.” The sense of community is one of the pieces that our ACES members look forward to the most.
15Fives for Reporting Excellence
The 15Five is an online tool that helps the student and the coach to have a place to provide consistent, weekly feedback and updates. Filling out a 15Five means listing where you’re at on your OKRs, as well as answering relevant questions related to your progress. It’s supposed to take just 15 minutes to fill out and five minutes for the coach to review.
“With the help of my coach, I was able to launch a brand new $2,500 WP web development course. The pilot was run with 7 clients (all of whom didn’t know of me prior to the launch). It was an incredible amount of work. If not for the guidance and support in ACES I’m not sure we would have made it to the finish line. Best of all, the feedback from participants has been fantastic. Not only that, through the process we were able to attract two very large clients, that can realistically add 6 figures of new revenue to our business. ACES has been incredible and I’m so glad I decided to join!”
– Judi Knight, Founder of NewTricks
“Buzz Calls” To Add to Your Toolbox and Get Questions Answered
Buzz calls are a way for the entire ACES student body to come together in one place and have a conversation about a business-building topic. We cover topics in depth that every entrepreneur needs to know, from mindset to marketing to finances and more.
Copy Reviews so That Your Sales Pages Convert Better
ACES students have access to the Mirasee copywriters for reviews, feedback, and recommendations on the sales pages and emails that they submit. If a landing page isn’t performing well, it could be the copy, and as an ACES member, you have the chance to get a professional copywriter’s opinion on what could be done differently to improve.
“I have gone from a very medium-sized business to increasing my revenue by about 50%. I’m very focused on what I’m selling, I know now I’m the CEO of my business, and I really am working at leading this business, and really working on a legacy that I did not think was possible prior to joining ACES… What I’ve experienced as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, as a professional – personally – is freedom. I actually have a lot more time off than I ever have before, making more money and creating more impact than ever. ”
– Deborah Maragopoulos, Founder of Genesis Health Products
As you can see, the ACES Club is a comprehensive, customized business coaching program that covers both strategy and implementation, both learning and doing. It spans one year and guarantees results.
As I said, ambitious.
“The most significant result I got from the ACES program is that I achieved more in the first 90 days than I achieved in the last almost one and a half years…For me personally now, it feels like what I’m doing is becoming a business…ACES just gives me the right direction, points me to what I have to do, and allows me to focus. ”
– Frank Allgäuer
The Good, The Bad, and Lessons Learned
Looking back, a lot of things went surprisingly well, while other things were unexpectedly difficult. Either way, they yielded valuable lessons.
The making and keeping of happy customers is an ongoing process.
If you’ve taken any of our courses, you’ve learned the importance of piloting your product. Pilot testing is good, not only to validate that there’s a demand for the product/service you want to offer but also to find out if you can, in fact, deliver on your promises.
“It’s been incredibly valuable to me to be able to have a whole team that’s really helping me to implement on a day to day level, and a really fine level, in terms of putting in systems and structures that can really support what is a massive dream in the making… I signed up with ACES and went from 6-figures to a quarter of a million in less than a year… The personal transformation has been amazing. I mean the money is of course incredible, and for me I use that to fund my business and fund my movement… ”
– Sophia Remolde, Founder of Lobsterbird
With ACES being so ambitious, we ran two pilots to start things off. Only when we were satisfied with the results of the pilots did we finally launch the ACES program, which we did at LIFT in San Diego in 2017.
Now, though, ACES has evolved from just a pilot to the robust program it is today.
There was a learning curve for delivering a program that works for both the participants and for us. It’s not easy to coach the “intangible” skills, such as mindset, discipline, and willingness to take imperfect action. It’s also not easy for the ACES students to stretch too far outside their zone of proximal development (or ZPD). So the program needed to strike the balance, and now it is much more dialed in.
We’ve also observed patterns in students’ needs, which have been informing our negotiations with service providers who can meet those needs. “So the amount of services and support available to participants keeps growing,” Danny says.
And even now, we continue to iterate and improve the program. In fact, Bhoomi Pathak, Mirasee CFO and ACES Club Program Administrator, says, “We have so many ideas but we need to be patient and disciplined with implementing them. We have an internal weekly meeting where we keep track of these ideas and take them one by one, assign them to people, and execute them.”
Go for the right fit, not the immediate sale.[clickToTweet tweet=”Go for the right fit, not the immediate sale.” quote=”Go for the right fit, not the immediate sale.”]
Because of the massive commitment required in the ACES Club, we were very selective in offering it only to those who were a good fit. Admittedly, when we first piloted ACES, the image of the perfect participant for it was fuzzier than it is today. And we ended up accepting a few people who weren’t a good fit for the program.
Today, we know exactly who we’re looking for and will turn away people who don’t fit “the profile.”
The perfect ACES member could be either just starting out in business or already have an established and profitable business, or anywhere in between. What’s more important is that they’re dedicated to growing their business and willing to lean into the discomfort of doing new and scary things.
Most of all, they have to be coachable. This means someone who’s less attached to their ideas and opinions, and more attached to learning, growing, and doing better. It’s someone who’s willing to listen. They don’t get defensive or upset when you challenge their ideas.
And when the fit is there, the results are spectacular. “ACES Club members are getting results far beyond what they thought was possible or achievable in the timeframe they’ve been in the program,” says Ari.
Here are more examples:
“I’ve had very good experiences with everyone I’ve worked with at Mirasee. It’s become clear they really want me to succeed…The personal attention I received and the ACES team’s commitment to understanding my business has helped me move forward very quickly…I’m already looking forward to my next 90-day sprint!”
– John Austin
“My experience in the ACES Sprint has gotten me totally unstuck. I now have a strategic plan in place to create a brand new 6-week Parenting Class. I was drawn to Mirasee because their philosophy is to actually educate people, not just pour information on them. … The coaches have helped me understand and move my business forward in a way I never could have done without them.”
– Joan Norton
“In less than three months I have launched a new website, revised materials I had developed in the past to create my strongest lead magnet ever, [and set up] sales funnels that are converting into sales. Because of ACES I am moving forward with confidence.”
– Susan Poole
The ACES Club may not be for everyone, but the vast majority of members are achieving substantial results in their business. “It’s not the same outcome for everyone,” says Danny, “because this is about individualized goals. The real key is that people are reaching their goals, they’re doing better in their businesses, their businesses are growing, and their quality of life is improving as a result. Not only are they making more money, but they’re doing it better and smarter.”
ACES by the Numbers
Lessons for the Reader
And what about you, dear reader? What can you learn from our experience of making a giant leap to launch and implement our most ambitious program ever?[clickToTweet tweet=”Do your customers really want a money-back guarantee? ” quote=”Do your customers really want a money-back guarantee? “]
- Don’t be afraid to set the bar high for yourself and your customers. In fact, we highly recommend it! It’s the only way you can earn more dollars for your hours. Truly listen to your ideal customers to identify ways you can serve them on a higher level—and charge more for it to make that level of support sustainable.
- Be creative with your guarantees. The default is to give a money-back guarantee. But is it really what your customers want? When I buy something, I want That Thing I Bought, along with the benefits I was hoping to get from it. So instead of giving money-back guarantees, think of other ways you can give your customers the outcome they really wanted in the first place.
- Bring in help to delight to your customers. If you’re scared to promise big, bold outcomes to your customers, it’s probably because you’re assuming that you will do everything yourself. While ideally, you would hire employees to deliver better products and services, you don’t have to. You can outsource tasks to freelancers and enlist experts as you need them. Charging your customers a premium will empower you to do this.
- Embrace the strange unknown. You’re courageous. I know, because you’ve plunged into this great adventure called entrepreneurship. You’ve already shown more guts than the average Joe and Jane. Don’t stop now; keep making leaps of faith until you’re closer to your goals.
And now, it’s time to stop reading and start making your own big, hairy, and bold moves for your business.
This is your adventure and you get to choose what happens next:
If you decide to put off said leap, go to the comments below and tell us what’s stopping you.
If you decide to make a giant leap, click on the button below to learn more about the ACES Club!