How to Reverse Engineer A Business Model with Ready Set Coach Co-Founders Emily Merrell + Lexie Smith

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Through a chance meeting Emily Merrell and Lexie Smith became co-founders. They took their individual businesses and created one of their very own called Ready Set Coach Program. In this episode Em and Lex unpack how they both came to build their own businesses and break down how they reverse engineered their business model to get to their desired income. 

What you’ll learn:

  • Lexie Smith shares her story with how she coaching for the lifestyle benefits 
  • Em and Lex talk about finding a co-founder and why their partnership works so well 
  • Em and Lex talk about the implications of motherhood and how it’s impacted their lives

To learn more about Emily and Lexie visit their website Ready Set Coach and follow them on social media.

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Emily Merrell 0:04
Welcome to the sixth degree Podcast, the podcast where we grill our guests about the things that make them tick and find out how human connection plays a role in their life. I’m your host, Emily Merrill. I’m your host, Emily Merrill. And today I am so lucky to have my partner in crime my co founder, Lexi Smith, as our guest, Lexi, welcome to the show. I’m so excited to actually be back on round two, but in a different capacity this time, you know, as wild is I got a notification Buzzsprout that I’ve hosted 75 podcasts so far. And I think you were like podcast number seven, or eight, like somewhere in the single digits, and how different our relationship was back. When I had you on my podcast.

Lexie Smith 1:00

It’s so true. And you were I think, episode number two, I podcast pitching and sipping to the same effect, we weren’t yet teamed up in a business capacity. So actually, that’d be fun to go back and listen to those episodes, just to just to remember that point in time.

Emily Merrell 1:19

We were probably like, I will never partner with anyone, I would never have a co founder. And you know, when I say co founder, it’s not for six degrees society. It’s for ReadySetCoach program. You know, we both have both our own unique businesses. And in addition, we’ve created something collectively. But it is interesting our story like I don’t think when we had met, I would have been able to first see this this partnership in this union. Do you want to tell her tell a little bit more about our meet cute?

Lexie Smith 1:51

Yes, absolutely. And this is really great timing, because I was just telling Emily, before the podcast, I met someone this morning virtually met someone who knows Emily, I mean, doesn’t everyone know Emily, and she asked us our origin story. So I just repeated it to her. So it’s very top of mine. But basically, to set the scene free the world shutting down 2020 Emily and I were both attending another coach’s conference in CityWalk in LA, and we, I will say, bonded over the fact that we weren’t necessarily picking up what she was putting down, meaning we weren’t super fans of of the conference. And so that was kind of a natural conversation starter in place for us to relate. So that’s where the friendship started. And then we all know what happened come March 2020, the world shut down. And believe me, you had invited me to a couple of different six degrees events, but I couldn’t make it until everything became virtual.

Emily Merrell 2:58

Oh, I remember like a costing you in, in a hallway. Basically, people were like, Oh, you haven’t met the PR bar Inc. Yet? Well, what bar is this that just opened that offers that hawks PR that’s so cool. Like cocktails and PR and not realizing that it wasn’t a tangible bar was like an online entity. And yeah, not yet. Yeah, exactly. Shots, shots and media shots.

Lexie Smith 3:29

Yeah, no, I fully, considerably remember that moment in the hall too. Yeah. Yeah.

Emily Merrell 3:34

I was like, Hi, what’s your story? Who are you? Like, you’re pretty new on the scene too. And I felt like, I knew all the players in Los Angeles, even though I didn’t live in LA, myself. And I remember inviting you to an event and you politely declined, letting me know that I live in Ventura, and traffic is a bunch. And it’s really not likely that I will make it to an event. And so I’m so grateful that No, I’m not grateful that the pandemic happened, I’m happy with the silver lining in which the pandemic brought forth the origin of hosting six degrees Society events virtually, and individuals like yourself from all over the country, the opportunity to actually partake in events that they otherwise probably couldn’t make it to or realistically couldn’t be a part of their day to day life.

Lexie Smith 4:26

Absolutely. So, you know, in many ways, the pandemic pandemic brought us together. Emily, did.

Emily Merrell 4:32

It did it was one of the things that brought us together. And so then, you know, fast forward to Ready, Set coach, so we met in 2020. February 20. Yes, February, right. Yeah, I think it was February January, February 2020. And she starts coming to events for you continue getting to know each other. He was at the end of 2020, which is mind boggling to think where I had, I was messaging with lax and we were talking about a particular client who was interested in working with both of us, but was between choosing one of us. And I, I love the way that you put it, you’re like, What the fuck like what the actual because it was Lexi and I could not be more different, but also very similar but very different. And we offer very different services. And I feel like with my one on one coaching, it’s more like hand holding and clarity and Lex’s is more like execution. Not to put words in your mouth Lex, but like.

Lexie Smith 5:34

I think we’re different stages of business owners to a lot of the time like I’m very niche where I feel like you can service a more broader audience on a more, a lot more topics where the PR bar Inc I mean, hello, the PR bar Inc is very niched into PR, so it’s very specific.

Emily Merrell 5:53

Totally agreed. Anyhow, so we were talking and we’re like this is so frustrating, right? Like, was that annoying when we when we got that?

Lexie Smith 6:02

Yeah, no, the fact that she straight out told both of us that both of us. So it wasone of the longer like, I think both of us had been on many calls with this individual in the sales process. And I remember opening an email where I thought it was going to be the email where she was finally going to be all in or just say no, it was at that point. I’m like, just, you know, decide. She goes, I want to be fully transparent. I’m vetting, deciding between you and Emily, so please tell me why I should choose you over Emily. And I’m like, Ah,

Emily Merrell 6:37

this episode of The Hunger Games, Lex and I battled. I think we both were like, You know what, like, I’m out. Like, we can’t do this anymore. I want to like, be

Lexie Smith 6:48

not I think I you know, be funny, I should find that email. I think I said something to the effect of like, Emily’s fantastic and wonderful. And that’s a great decision. I’m not going to say anything, all I can say is what I do. And what I do is what you want, and

Emily Merrell 7:02

not so but from that I remember rather than taking that a moment of like creating the human voodoo doll of Lexie as opportunity to sit down and message her and be like, I think we have something. We have something tangible here where people want to work with both of us. I think there’s something attractive about both of our offers. What if there was a way that we could bring them together? And you as a genius that you are, we’re like, okay, let’s not think of our actual business. Let’s think of like a tangible thing that isn’t our business and will not take away from her our bread and butter.

Lexie Smith 7:45

Yeah, well, in first, I just have to give such kudos to em for taking the abundance mindset route, because you get full credit for seeing the opportunity. And to your point what could have been a competitive situation. And I thought that was beautiful. And yeah, six degrees was amazing. Emily’s coaching thing was amazing. You know, I was finally really starting to hit my stride with PR, but I didn’t want to give that up. So we had some I think this was fall of 2020 started having some brainstorming sessions about what could a, you know, a third, a new venture look like? And through those sessions, as when we both identified what is something we have in common? Well, we’ve both been able to grow successful coaching businesses.

Emily Merrell 8:31

And, and I think what’s cool about our unique coaching businesses, like I didn’t start out my business, being a coach, the coaching industry was something that was still kind of novel to me, when I tried to be an entrepreneur first and truthfully, like didn’t even know coaching was an option. And lacks when you started your business, like you knew, right, right out of the gate, that was the model and lifestyle that you wanted. So I think we both have like unique perspective perspectives of of bringing our shared life experience in into coaching, but doing it in a different way.

Lexie Smith 9:07

Absolutely. I literally reverse engineered this business model very intentionally. So the more we talked about it, we found more reasons why this just made sense, where you know, m can be could offer one insight or perspective and I could offer another and there was really a power and be willing to be able to speak to both sides.

Emily Merrell 9:30

So yeah, and I think her own frustrations were truly like finding and getting fed up with what was available out there. It was like, you know, yeah, you’re already a coach and let me show you how to X Y and Z your business but like, we wanted to start from the beginning. I’m you know, currently we’re going through our second cohort of ReadySet. Coach and having our, our cohort do some market research. And these are people who went through like coaching certifications, and they’re coming back to us and being like, Oh my God, I didn’t realize that this wasn’t clear. I wasn’t communicating to my ideal client and, and sharing real problems that they paid big bucks to big, professional institutions and are getting some pretty significant values and takeaways that just get missed.

Lexie Smith 10:26

Yeah. Yeah, you know, and something we saw, too, is, and this is something I experienced, personally, and I think you did to me is there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of coaches out there, there’s a lot of programs out there, most of them are a little bit more. I’m gonna say generic is the word to multiple types of businesses like how to grow a business. But what we weren’t seeing is something that had honed in on this very specific type of business, which is coaching because coaches, it’s a different world, then, you know, a product based business or an event services based business, there’s there’s different things that come up. And we had spent a lot of money and, you know, our own time working through what doesn’t doesn’t work. And that’s what we then wanted to help everyone we are hoping at that time to work with. Avoid.

Emily Merrell 11:20

Mm hmm. And I think also, we both have, we’ve played around with burnout before, you know, in different ways. Lexi legit, burnt out. She just sent me a picture of her from the hospital at one point, ages ago,

Lexie Smith 11:36

working in the hospital, it’s I’m on my laptop. It’s like I was in the hospital, because I was so burnt out. But I clearly wasn’t taking that as like,

Emily Merrell 11:46

no, no, no, I need more of that adrenaline. You’re bumping into my buddy. Yeah, no, I mean, we that’s a big thing, too, is like, the boundaries and the balance. And, you know, I think my biggest regret was that I didn’t have we didn’t have this program sooner. Because I have some even past clients. I was talking to a client today. She’s like, Oh, I’ll just work with them when I’m on my trip abroad. And I’m like, Well, you could not. And you could say I’m going on vacation. Or unless that’s like your lifestyle, and you want to just work from all over. But like the boundaries aren’t necessarily aren’t necessarily in place. Especially people who’ve been doing this for a while.

Lexie Smith 12:25

Yeah, and you’re teaming up perfectly the second AHA we had and something Emily and I really see eye to eye on and value. And that’s the concept of working to live not living to work, and having a business support. What’s more important, which is your life. And so we kind of married that, right? How can you build a business, but also do it in a way that it’s setting you up to live, so you’re not a slave to your business?

Emily Merrell 12:50

I think that’s huge. And you know, what’s also interesting, I think I’ve told you this Lex, but like, I never wanted a co founder with six degrees. Like I felt very strongly that I wanted to be the founder and be comfortable hiring but not having someone who was like on the helm with me. And yet, there’s something about our partnership, that feels very easy. I was telling you the other day, I’m like, I think you are my sister in that I can be very direct with you. And also very abrupt with you and you can be as well. It’s like a constant communication and flow. What do you think makes our partnership different and also work?

Lexie Smith 13:28

Yeah, you know, I so agree with that. I because I shared this couple of minutes ago, I was so intentional about this business model I wanted, I didn’t want to co founder I didn’t want employees, you know, maybe some contractors. So it is pretty crazy. Now that I’m realizing I started a second business in a different way. Um, I think there’s, I think it’s a few things. I think we are very similar on big values that matter. But we’re very Yin and Yang when it comes to kind of the business operations side of things, which turns out to be very helpful when you’re building something new.

Emily Merrell 14:04

Which I’m going to elaborate to what she’s saying that she’s really organized and detail oriented, which I’m so appreciative of, because I’m like, I’m like a I want to say Picasso in a way we’re not a Picasso Pollack, but like splatter things and then she’ll make like the artwork out of the splatter. Or she’ll like I feel like I’ll give an idea and you can like expand upon the idea. And I for me even I had this like own my own impostor syndrome. For years about starting a group program. I had done a mastermind but a group program and modules. It just felt so daunting to me. Like you should see me in Canva alone. Typically, it takes me like days to make sense of my own mind. And it was incredible. It was so wonderful like doing things together. And I’ve give so much credit to Lex because she’s also like a tech genius. I’ll be like, I don’t Don’t know how to do fill in the 30 blanks below it. And she’s like, Oh, here’s a loom. Let me show you. And it’s very empowering as a co founder.

Lexie Smith 15:10

Okay, now let me just brag on you a little bit. Um, so m is amazing at many things. Recently, I decided to call you a renter co founder, because I think that not only are you this incredible visionary, but you hit on all the key, you have all the key skill sets that a true big time leader has your I can’t even tell you guys, I can’t tell you how many holes Emily has helped dig me out of the classic spiral. She’s incredible mindset. She’s incredible. She gets on these rolls with these ideas where you’re like, Where does this come from, from your brain. And she’s really, really great at helping provide clarity in the big picture and vision at hand. I mean, she’s good at 1,000,001 things. But what’s great for a partnership is when you have someone like that. And then you have someone like me, who then gets really excited to hop on and all of a sudden, like crazy person make website the next day, right, like the technical side of it. It works. It worked out really well. And I think we sawed up for we, you know, I’m trying to remember, um, do you remember when did we officially? So we started brainstorming in fall?

Emily Merrell 16:20

Yeah. And then I remember for Christmas, I feel like we, I know, we got on a call around the Christmas time. And we’re like, okay, let’s do this. And we came up with the name ReadySetCoach. And then I think that’s when we bought the domain. And then we started like, adding to it and building into it. So I don’t know, remember, when we like actually bought, we bought the domain, somehow we came up with the name. And I think the next step for us was we picked a date, or like a, we have to actually market this and figure it out. And I thought what was really cool about how we marketed and how we brought things to life is it’s exactly the same way that we teach in our program. So we followed and heated our own advice to actually get the word out there about ReadySet coach program from everything, we did everything from like events and masterclasses to creating a whole social media presence for it, updating our LinkedIn ads, which was really cool. Like, what else did we do?

Lexie Smith 17:20

Yeah, no, to your point, we had to sit down and go, Okay, we’ve launched businesses, how do we launch this new business as effectively as possible? And then that became the cornerstone of what we now teach. So I like to say, you know, I’m kind of proud to say, we really practice what we preach. And yeah, we picked that day. And I think, you know, I’m sure in the back of both of our minds, we’re both crossing our fingers. I hope this goes really well. Like, hopefully, this is positive. And at least from my side, I think it turned out as really as well as anyone can dream. Yeah,

Emily Merrell 17:55

I agree. And it’s been so fun to see it evolve to see it, you know, we started off with it at three months. And then after the first iteration, we’re like, you know, what, let’s reshape it to four months and, and change the structure of it. And it’s fun, I find it really really refreshing to have sounding words and not making these decisions alone, but making them in tandem and being able to, to lean on you for feedback and ways that we can improve even like planning social media, it’s fun together.

Lexie Smith 18:30

Yeah. And it’s I think makes us even more powerful that we also challenge each other at times we challenge the way we think which I think helps us see past blind spots. And so you know, it’s the whole two brains are better than one. And then what happened was, when did you get Yeah. Get in your belly?

Emily Merrell 18:54

Because of Valentine’s Day, actually, yeah, it was like my one year anniversary of being pregnant pretty much. Yeah, I got pregnant, which is so scary and daunting when you’re an entrepreneur because there’s so much to navigate from like, do you take maternity leave? And how do I let my my babies my businesses survive without me they need me. And it was such a gift to have built Ready Set coach the way we did funny enough, actually delivered three days after the last day of our first program three weeks early. And Lex was just such a champ like, you know, picked up the slack in a very, very, very generous and significant way. And now you

Lexie Smith 19:39

are in middle of our cohort, um, because you know, apparently I just wanted to copy Emily in August. I found out I was pregnant.

Emily Merrell 19:49

That text message, I think that there was something so funny about that too, because, you know, pregnancy is one of those things you don’t know if it’s gonna take it one time or like six years or 10 years or outside help I think I hit not that I had scared you, but I had inspired you in some way. And you’re like, I should probably get on this.

Lexie Smith 20:07

Yeah, I, you know, I have a lot of health issues. We’ll leave it at that. And so I’ve been very anxious for a while about the ability for me to have children. My husband has been ready for some time, and I was lagging and we decided to start trying buttons point you don’t know, don’t know how long and I don’t know if you sent me some like good Juju vibes. But I got a very, very blessed and got pregnant way quicker than I actually was hoping I was. I was like, Okay, we’ll give it a year, though it happened right away. But holy moly, how lucky am I that I had Emily, who was cut many months ahead of me.

Emily Merrell 20:45

Five, five months ahead of me,

Lexie Smith 20:47
she’s like, here I am actually found out on a work trip with my husband. And I was in a hotel room by myself, freaking the beef out and I had Emily to be like, This is what you can expect. This is what you need. This is all the things and so we burned their baby. And then we both got pregnant together. And then she birthed her baby. And at the time of recording, I’m five weeks away from my new date. So

Emily Merrell 21:09

that’s so wild to me. But so far, I remember the text message and you’re like, surrounded by pregnancy tests, basically. And you’re like, Is this thing on? Like, is this real? Is this legitimate? Like for Lexie Smith 21:20 tests, guys, because actually, I took one in July, that was negative, but I was actually pregnant. Not that I knew that at the time. So the second the second time. So what do you call that? Like a false? No, it wasn’t a false positive. It was a false negative.

Emily Merrell 21:35

Yeah. Yeah, we were it was too early. Like you couldn’t tell because, yeah,

Lexie Smith 21:39

it was I was seven ish weeks when I took that first pregnancy test that said I wasn’t pregnant. Anyway, so when I went to take another one when I was on this conference, and like, I’m either dying or pregnant, because I do not feel okay. Four tests, which I had to bite the little market in this hotel. I was in Reno, which was super expensive, because they always mark it up. $50 on pregnancy tests, and I was like, No, oh, my God. Oh, my God. It was so funny. I love it.

Emily Merrell 22:11

But yeah, I mean, I think that’s, that’s another thing too, is like your business. It’s fascinating, because it will never feel like the right time or a good time to continue living your life. And I think that’s very much a core of what we believe believe in is like making, like what you said earlier, living, you know, working to live not living to work and like building our lives into our businesses. And so with that being said, like even our next cohort is going to be launched in, you know, in complementary dates with like your maternity leave, because I think it’s more important for me that you take maternity leave than it is for you. But that’s a whole nother conversation.

Lexie Smith 22:50

Don’t go too insane. Yeah, no, we’re again, we’re actually Emily has been really wonderful. And reminding me why we did this in the first place. Because guys, it’s so easy to get tunnel vision, and start to make sacrifices on the lifestyle part for your business. Which is what it’s been wonderful to have led to remind me, you know, this is why we got into this. It’s okay. And so I’m feeling very, very grateful right now that we have, at least you know, a tentative plan, there’s only so much you can, you can plan, you don’t know how it’s gonna go. But we’ve figured it out. And to this point, we have scheduled up our next cohort kind of when I’m back.

Emily Merrell 23:34

Yeah. And I think it’s so easy for our egos to get in the way, like we’re so self important. Like, as a society, we’re so self important that we feel like oh, you know, if we take time off, people are going to forget about us, or oh, if I fill in the blank of like, any limiting belief system or fear that you have, because it’s so real, especially being self employed, it’s not like you have a substitute filling in for you, you are at home. But I do say like I advise, and we both advise like entrepreneurs to put systems into place now. And even with our program, this is our second time running the program. I feel like a lightness with this program, that the the first program was a lot of hard work, you’re creating the program. And you’re going to talk a little bit more about like the creation of a program and our philosophy of like how you should create a coaching program.

Lexie Smith 24:30 So this may or may not go against some of what you believe in or what you have heard. But like I mentioned earlier, Emily and I kind of outlined a roadmap of how you go about building and growing a coaching business to support your lifestyle. And we had an outline, and we knew what we wanted to teach, but big but it was really important for us to not build everything. Before we knew everyone in our cohort who they were so For us, we think it’s really smart. Get your, your core principle, your core outline in place, understand the direction you’re going, wait to see who you’re working with, you know, what are their strengths? What are their weaknesses, get maybe, you know, the first, the second, maybe the third week, set now, and then do the rest as you go, because guess what you’re going to be customizing it and creating it for your clients. And that’s going to service them way better than you just pretending to know what they need.

Emily Merrell 25:31

Right? Yeah. And I have to say, in terms of like a work life balance, I’ve met so many people who have like, built out this huge course or built out a whole thing before even getting clients. And then they’re sitting there. They’re like, Emily, I put hundreds of hours into this. And you’re like, yeah, and did you tell people you were building this? Like, what was the marketing strategy along the way? So I think there was a lot of while it was, sometimes it could feel a little bit more challenging to put it together. Like now we have this cohort where we have modules and the modules are already built. Like we already put all the thought into it. And we obviously tweak it as the, you know, as the new cohorts come in, and they face unique problems. But generally speaking, like the hardest part, the hardest lift was done for us in the first cohort.

Lexie Smith 26:22

Yeah, yeah. And we let the first cohort guide, it’s co creation, really, we believe a lot in the cocreation were guiding it, we know the high level steps, but there’s so much we could never even probably predicted would come up. And that allowed us the flexibility to serve to the best of our ability, what what our cohort and those individuals needed. We didn’t want this just to be you know, another group group. This isn’t a passive income online course. Right? That’s a different scenario where, you know, you create the course in front of people, but you aren’t involved. You know, Ready Set coach is very much Gemini with it.

Emily Merrell 27:01

I don’t know about you, like, I have one course that I’m like, starting next week, I promised Emily, I’m gonna do this, I’m going to do this. I paid a good amount of money last year for like, a passive course. And I never prioritize it.

Lexie Smith 27:16

Like I put off yeah,

Emily Merrell 27:18

like I it is the bottom of my to do list, it feels like a it doesn’t feel real, because it’s like, lives forever. And, you know, there’s no one to hold me accountable and check in. And I think there is something beautiful about the the way that people have to do their homework, and then we tell them to ping us. We go through their homework.

Lexie Smith 27:38

Yep. Accountability is a big word I want to pull out of what you just said. And I think that’s the difference if you are someone who’s purchased 1,000,001 courses. And to this point, you haven’t done them. I think one of the biggest things is that lack of kind of accountability, it’s really easy, because it’s there, it’s not going away, you know, you there’s no timeline, there’s no one holding you accountable to do it. Which is why the power of no and I will say we do, it’s a hybrid group program, because there’s one on one and a lot of one on one touching involved with us. But not only do Gemini provide accountability, the group provides accountability for each other. They even have accountability buddies that we met.

Emily Merrell 28:20

And it’s awesome to see like the growth from one another from talking it through. Well, Lex obviously we can talk for forever about all of this. We are big fans of each other. Are there any things that you want to share with what we’re working on? Currently?

Lexie Smith 28:37

Yes, so Emily and I are still very proud and will continue to be running our hybrid group program. Our next one launching summer of 2022. So keep an eye out. But there is now a new way to work with me and I aside from that, and we call it conditioning camp. And what it is, is a three week sprint with m&a. So basically, week one, you’re gonna meet with them. You’re gonna hammer out all your big vision goals, your, your pricing, your structure, you’re gonna talk mindset, you’re gonna get a really great plan in place. Then you’re going to sprint on over to week two, you’re coming to my court. We’re going to talk all things PR marketing partnerships, really the next stage of taking that idea to execution. And then week three, we’re going to wrap it up with one on one slack and editing support. So our tagline is you know, getting your business and your mind in the best shape of its life.

Emily Merrell 29:37

I love it. I love it. I love that that visual so much. And it’s been so fun working with those clients as well like it’s been great to give them that. That sounding board and that refreshed and watching them evolve week over week while we work together. So that being said, if you’re interested in learning more about Lex in my Self and learning about Ready, set, coach, check out Ready Set coach program.com For more information about upcoming events, upcoming cohorts and conditioning camp, and then you can also follow us along on Instagram, which we are ready set coach program on Instagram, follow, share, introduce yourself, we’d love to hear from you. And if you liked today’s episode, please give us a like five stars. Share with your friends, and we’ll see you the next time on the sixth degree with Emily Merrill. Have a wonderful day. Thanks for joining Lex.

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