Episode 72: Sonaya Williams
Entrepreneur Conundrum Podcast
Sonaya Williams shares how she helps smart CEOs grow their business and meet their goals.
EC 01 | 4min
About The Guest
Sonaya Williams (pronounced: so-ni-yah), founder of The CEO Partner®, a systems-driven, profits-obsessed, Digital Implementation agency that helps smart CEOs grow their business and meet their goals.
Sonaya started her Digital Implementation Agency in November of 2011 while still working full-time as a Senior Financial Systems Analyst at TD Ameritrade. Since then, she has built a multi-six-figure consulting agency and learned a ton of good and bad lessons along the way.
The CEO Partner solves the problems she knew so many business owners faced. Her message is clear – When we create systems + gather support, we build incredible, successful businesses AND happy Lives – for ourselves and the people we love.
Sonaya lives to help CEOs create an operational master plan for themselves and their teams, teaching efficient and effective systems and tools during the process.
[00:00:00] VIRGINIA: [00:00:00] Hi everyone today, I’m talking with Sonaya Williams about how she helps smart SEO grow their business and meet their goals. Sonaya Williams is the founder of the CEO partner assistance driven profits, obsessed digital implementation agency that helps smart CEOs grow their business and meet them. She has started her digital implementation agency in November of 2011, while still working full-time as a senior financial systems analysis at TD Ameritrade. And since then she has built a multiple six figure consulting agency and learned a ton of good and bad lessons along the way. The CEO partners solved the problems she knew so many business owners faced. Her message is clear when we create systems. Plus gather support. We build incredible successful businesses and happy life for ourselves and the people we love. Sonaya live to help CEOs create an operational master plan for themselves and their teams, teaching [00:01:00] efficient and effective systems and tools during the process. Welcome to Sonaya
[00:01:04] SONAYA: [00:01:04] thank you for having me, Virginia.
[00:01:06]VIRGINIA: [00:01:06] Thanks for being here. So what made you want to go out on your own?
[00:01:12] SONAYA: [00:01:12] So for me when I thought, but I think I came up with an, I wanting to be an entrepreneur in 2009. And at that time I was working and traveling. So much for work two hours to get to work. And then, you know, the nine to five and then two hours home and then working again. I knew that eventually when I wanted to have kids that I wanted to be home with them. So I was raised by a single mom and I watched her work multiple jobs, none of which was like her dream job or what she truly wanted to do. It was what she kind of had to do. To support her family. So I knew that when I wanted to have kids down the line, I wanted to be home and be there for them. And I couldn’t do that in the current role in job that I had. So I had to figure out some way to be able to still create income and have a revenue [00:02:00] that would allow me to keep my lifestyle that I had and grow a family when that time came. So I thought about this long before I had the kids I have now.
[00:02:09] VIRGINIA: [00:02:09] That’s cool. So you’re able to. Put the time into it that you needed to before you had the children put the time that you have into that.
[00:02:18] SONAYA: [00:02:18] Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Cause I, I didn’t, I don’t have, like, I forget the title of the story, but I don’t have one of those stories where I was laid off or I got fired and I had to figure out a way I have the kind of different type of story where it’s like,I know, I want to do this more. So for the freedom and flexibility that it truly does provide you. So yeah. So I being an only child knew that I wanted to have. a kid and a sibling for that kid. So I knew that it would definitely take the freedom of flexibility,
[00:02:46]VIRGINIA: [00:02:46] it’s fun how you. We’re planning ahead for that, you know, and thinking about that aspect of it.
[00:02:51] SONAYA: [00:02:51] Yeah, definitely.
[00:02:52] VIRGINIA: [00:02:52] Who do you say your target audienceor your niche is for your [00:03:00] avatar?.
[00:03:00] SONAYA: [00:03:00] My avatar Yeah. So I call her Kayla, you and I’ve named her. So when I write copy, I’m writing to a person, but my ideal client that I like to work with is someone who they’re service-based business owner. They right now don’t know that much about the online businesses space and they want to figure out how to take what they do in a service based business, what they’re expert at and their knowledge, and put it into a form of what I like to call new revenue. So helping them figure out how to make new revenue online. And the way we do that for our clients are we basically help them create some sort of course or build the audience to get into that course and then also continue to do it. So a lot of our clients we’ve helped them launch different programs, different online events, different, you know, lead generators, things like that. And then we help them create. That process so that they can do it repeatedly every quarter, because for me, new revenue is really good, but you don’t want something that you launch once you want something that’s repeatable.
[00:03:58] VIRGINIA: [00:03:58] How was this past year for [00:04:00] you? Were you able to grow a lot with COVID and everything?
[00:04:04] SONAYA: [00:04:04] Yes, COVID was for the last year. I think I definitely had it like a real growth spurt in the business, but I’ve had hired a team to help support that as well, but. Be where I am. So I moved to England in 2016 and then in 2017, I moved to Denmark compared to where I was in the U S people over here are not as advanced in the online business space as we were in America. Or even in Canada. So I’ve had a lot of growth since I moved over here. And especially since COVID, so we’ve got a lot of people that want to figure out one how to do business online, but more so how to do it properly and create a system because a lot of people say they have a website and now they’re online, but that’s not really doing business online because you’re not making money online. And also. Some there’s been people that have tried to do courses a years ago, and now they’re realizing now is a great time to do courses because that whole industry is going to be raised. I forget what the [00:05:00] exact number is, but hundreds of billions of dollars in the next five years
[00:05:03] VIRGINIA: [00:05:03] definitely exploded hey
[00:05:04] SONAYA: [00:05:04] Yes.
[00:05:06] VIRGINIA: [00:05:06] So how do you get in front? Yeah. Your ideal avatar, like finding your ideal clients?
[00:05:14] SONAYA: [00:05:14] Yeah, interestingly enough, ever since I started my business in 2011, it’s grown by referral. A hundred percent of our clients come from referral. And the way I started that also, when I started back 10 years ago, I started with people in my mastermind, people in my network. And then from there I’ve nurtured those relationships. And today how we continue to nurture our relationships because our clients typically aren’t the ones that join our newsletter list, or they really aren’t on social. We still have those. We still send out a weekly newsletter. We still post on social consistently. We still do webinars and things like that as a form of nurturing our leads. But the way we get them is we actually send out a physical magazine. So we send out a quarterly physical magazine to our. Current clients, [00:06:00] past clients, partners on leads. And we it’s something that we curate the content for. We produce it internally ourselves, and we have some experts that we put in there as well. And then, yeah, that generates active referrals for us. Every quarter. We mail it out the last month of every quarter. And that kind of creates some activity for us in terms of lead generation and sales calls. And then also we have our podcasts that also helps nurture those people as well.
[00:06:27] VIRGINIA: [00:06:27] That’s cool. So your magazine, is it free or the subscription based fee
[00:06:34] SONAYA: [00:06:34] It’s free, it’s a free rexource that we put together and we physically mail out to this curated list.
[00:06:39] VIRGINIA: [00:06:39] That’s cool. So are they all over the world or over?
[00:06:44] SONAYA: [00:06:44] Yea
[00:06:44] VIRGINIA: [00:06:44] Okay. That’s cool.
[00:06:46] SONAYA: [00:06:46] They are all over the world a majority of our clients and we have 75% of our clients with us and the rest of them in Europe. And so we’re building both U S clients and Europe clients, but we mail it all over.
[00:06:58] VIRGINIA: [00:06:58] Do you get part of [00:07:00] them to get the U S when it’s printed in the U S and then, or do you ship overseas?
[00:07:05]SONAYA: [00:07:05] I ship overseas. So we packaged it up nicely with our handwritten note, because for me, with these clients, they it’s a high touch thing. And so we write it with, you know, a nice handwritten note and it gets sent to them in a nice envelope and things like that. And then at the end of the year, what we did last year, I don’t know what we’re going to do this year at the issue. At the end of last year, we sent it out with like this custom notebook that had branded pages inside and our logo on it. And that kind of helped as like a nice little end of the year gift. In addition to the magazine.
[00:07:37]VIRGINIA: [00:07:37] that’s cool. It’s your handwritten note? Personalized.
[00:07:40] SONAYA: [00:07:40] It is a for okay. So it’s personal for our clients because we know them and our potential clients, because we spoke to them and our partners. We’ve got some leads on the list that we’re nurturing. So we do personalize a little bit. Like we’d love to, you know, we’d love to work with you and learn more kind of thing, but yeah. So yeah, they’re all personalized.
[00:07:59] VIRGINIA: [00:07:59] That’s cool, because I [00:08:00] was just thinking that you can also like send a birthday aspect to it too.
[00:08:04] SONAYA: [00:08:04] That’s actually pretty cool yeah. And so like send them a card. in addition to the magazine to the magazine.
[00:08:10] VIRGINIA: [00:08:10] Yeah. like on their birthday
[00:08:11]SONAYA: [00:08:11] Yea I like that
[00:08:11] VIRGINIA: [00:08:11] Whether you include it in the magazine or you just send it out at another the separately, but yeah.
[00:08:17] SONAYA: [00:08:17] At a different time, Yeah, no, that’s actually a good idea.
[00:08:19]VIRGINIA: [00:08:19] What Are a couple common mistakes that you see some of your clients making.
[00:08:24] SONAYA: [00:08:24] Yeah. The biggest mistake I see a lot of our clients making is being inconsistent with getting out there and being visible. It’s like, they’ll start to even just post on social and then there’ll be consistent for three weeks maybe. And then stop. Or the same thing with the newsletter. We had a client that she relaunched her newsletter and it was structured really nicely. We put it together. So she had an article, she had her podcast and she had some, like, I think we called them some sort of tips or thoughts at the bottom. And she was getting feedback and really good comments on the tips and thoughts, but then she stopped putting it in there. [00:09:00] And what we noticed is her. Open rates Started going down and she had no click rates because she had no links or nothing to send people anywhere. So consistency is so important. And that’s one of the biggest things that we see. A lot of our clients struggle with being inconsistent. I feel like another big thing for our clients is because they’re coming from this offline to this online space, they aren’t trusting that they will. They’re, aren’t trusting that they know. What to do or the next step, which is one way they come to us, but I also want to lean on them because it’s a lot of their content. We don’t create the content for them. They come to us with their content and we kind of package it into a program and help them put it online and build the audience. But a lot of it is them trusting themselves to know their stuff. So for example, I have, we’re doing. A client right now who is a certified fashion stylist is the easiest way to put it. [00:10:00] And what she does in her business is she works with corporate women to help them up-level the leadership through their style. And what she wants to do is create a program from that. Now she’s certified. She knows her steps. She has her process and it works because she has corporate clients that she works with all the time. But when it comes to putting it into a program, And we help her outline the content and it’s great. And we have the outline and she has to go record the videos. She’s at a complete block because it’s a new space for her. And so we have a lot of conversations of encouragement. You can do this, you know, you know your thing, you’re the expert. So it’s like trust yourself is a huge thing that I feel like a lot of our clients do.
[00:10:38] VIRGINIA: [00:10:38] You think that’s kind of like the biggest thing, why they say stop with that? Like with the posting or the newsletters and stuff like that? Or do they just feel like it’s not getting them anywhere?
[00:10:49] SONAYA: [00:10:49] Yeah. I feel like you, yeah, to that point there, probably those two things are probably connected. Like they’re not trusting themselves any, they’re not trusting themselves or what they’re saying anymore. So then they’re not posting [00:11:00] anymore. The two of them can very much be interlinked. They’re not trusting that what they put. Content wise together is working or they’re not getting results because a lot of these, all of our clients, I should say, are results driven and that they’re not seeing results. They’re not going to continue.
[00:11:15] VIRGINIA: [00:11:15] I wonder if they feel like they’re not really like they don’t. Well, I was gonna say like, they don’t really have this person. Like you do that. They’re talking to when they do their marketing. And so there a lot, I don’t know who to talk to. I dunno what to tell them. I wonder if that’s part of,
[00:11:28]SONAYA: [00:11:28] I think so it’s like, oh, well, when they were here, they were doing it and it was really good. Mine’s not going to be like that. And I don’t have anybody to ask. I’m not going to do anything and that’s not true. You should do it because you never know what works unless you put it out there.
[00:11:45] VIRGINIA: [00:11:45] Right. But then you can’t just do it. Well, I did this one time.
[00:11:49] SONAYA: [00:11:49] Yeah,
[00:11:49] VIRGINIA: [00:11:49] right.
[00:11:51] SONAYA: [00:11:51] It’s like I checked the box.
[00:11:56] VIRGINIA: [00:11:56] How long would you say that they should be consistent for when they quote unquote, [00:12:00] try it
[00:12:00] SONAYA: [00:12:00] I would say at least a whole quarter, because you have to have something that you can measure and to know how to even make it better so a minimum of three months, in my opinion is then you can go back and you have enough data to look at, to see what worked, what didn’t work. What should you continue? What can you stop? Or can you Uplevel? And we do these quarterly reviews with all of our clients to kind of go back and look at the data what worked, how did that last launch go? What could we change? What are our goals? So, yeah, a minimum of a quarter.
[00:12:29] VIRGINIA: [00:12:29] Right. And I think it’s really key to when you do that, when you are looking back and reviewing that you actually take, let’s say like the industry standards or industry averages for that. And don’t just be like, oh, wow. My launch failed because I didn’t get X when you compare it to like the industry standards or the app, like the averages, you rock that thing
[00:12:52] SONAYA: [00:12:52] Exactly no,. That’s such a good point. It’s like we have a baseline to look at. Don’t just pull numbers from the sky because they don’t always [00:13:00] work
[00:13:04] VIRGINIA: [00:13:04] so well, what’s a big goal or two or. That you’re Hoping to achieve the next couple of years.
[00:13:09] SONAYA: [00:13:09] Oh, for me, I think my big goal is so right now, a lot of everything, well, everything that we do is one-to-one and I’m finding a lot of people through my my like list building and my own, getting out there, finding like people that more. So aren’t ready for the one-to-one or have our team come in and do it. They more so just want the support of us showing them how or helping them out, helping them. So I’m looking at creating some sort of like new revenue school to have like an in-between some sort of done for you implementation and you know, learning. So I’m looking to try and figure that out for ourselves. I think that’s a big goal for me, probably within the next year as well, and then building the team to support it.
[00:13:53] VIRGINIA: [00:13:53] And I think that’d be fun because then they’d be able to get the support of the other individuals in that. [00:14:00] Group two, right?
[00:14:02] SONAYA: [00:14:02] Yeah. Cause community is huge. I mean, I think that’s one thing that keeps me going in my business and also that got me even started. Cause I don’t think I would have gotten the clients or the referrals I’ve had without a community. So the community, yeah. The community piece is really big for all entrepreneurs. I think at all levels
[00:14:21] VIRGINIA: [00:14:21] so true. So how do you think it would affect or change your business by implementing the done for you or the group style aspect?
[00:14:29] SONAYA: [00:14:29] I feel like it’s going to give us a clear distinction between the people that are done for you and done with you. And it’ll give us another avenue to serve people better or even serve more people without taxing the team. Because one I know done for you does internally on the service pay side, that kills, but like you can hit capacity really quickly, especially with the level of work that we’re doing and how involved we get with our clients. And so we get capped at [00:15:00] like at eight clients were capped and I want to be able to serve more people. And also grow revenue and be able to pay my team more. That’s like one of my biggest goals. I want to pay the team more because we do really good work and the team does really good work and I want to be able to reward them for that
[00:15:15] VIRGINIA: [00:15:15] do you think there’s a difference between your, in your mind or whatever, but with the done for you versus maybe a group and you take X weeks, and this is like to get done and kind of like an accountability aspect, do you think there’s a difference with them?
[00:15:29] SONAYA: [00:15:29] I do. Well, I do think there’s a difference because for the type of person that wants it done for you and say, what’s the type of person that actually pays for done for you, they are really committed to getting the work. Versus, I mean, I’ve bought tons of group programs and haven’t finished them, right. So there’s a statistic where there’s like 60% of people that buy courses don’t actually finish them. And it’s, I don’t think it’s the map because you’re not accountable because there’s tons of accountability in there, but. [00:16:00] You can look, people are really slicking. They know how to avoid that. I feel like there’s a portion of it that has to have some done for you in there. Because for me, it’s like, I need you to create all your content so that we can implement it for you because I know a biggest portion for where people get stuck is the tech. And that’s one thing that we’re really good at is getting things implemented and completed, but we can’t do that unless you created your content so I want to have a combination in there of the create your product, create your content, but also teaching them how to do it. And then they have a cutoff for when they have to do it by which there would be their accountability and then we’ll set it up for them. that’s what I;m thinking thinking.
[00:16:41] VIRGINIA: [00:16:41] Okay. Because I didn’t know if you could maybe do two separate, right. And then you have, yeah. More on the value ladder and then you’d be able to maybe, I don’t know if you utilize your team more would be the best term to put it, but then you can still have your team help. The [00:17:00] people that are, let’s say self pacing it and then
[00:17:04] The DIYers
[00:17:05] yeah. And have them also focused or other ones focused on the done for you. And they’re the ones doing it for them.
[00:17:13] SONAYA: [00:17:13] Yeah. There’s that combination too. for the people who want to want to do it themselves.
[00:17:18] VIRGINIA: [00:17:18] Yeah. I was just thinking of like, you have your value ladder and being able to extend it. That was all.
[00:17:23] SONAYA: [00:17:23] Yeah, I appreciate that. This is turning into building out my own product. Yeah, I’m liking it.
[00:17:31] VIRGINIA: [00:17:31] So do you think there’s any roadblocks from getting those implemented
[00:17:36] SONAYA: [00:17:36] for clients getting their programsimplemented??
[00:17:40] No, you getting to your program implemented it’s running for you and expanding. Yeah.
[00:17:44] Yeah. so I feel like My biggest roadblock is like same similar to our clients. It’s myself. I need to make the time to do it. And I think probably with a lot of our clients or service-based business owners in general, it’s like, you have to make the time to work on your business. And I need to treat [00:18:00] myself and my business like a client,
[00:18:02] VIRGINIA: [00:18:02] right.
[00:18:03] SONAYA: [00:18:03] To make it happen always
[00:18:04] VIRGINIA: [00:18:04] I always thought the tricky part is always like treating my company like a client,
[00:18:09] SONAYA: [00:18:09] Yea just like make that time. If you have a hundred percent of time, I need at least 20% for my business and 80% for the clients or something like that I don’t know
[00:18:18] VIRGINIA: [00:18:18] some ratio we’re not gonna get to What’s the best advice that you have ever received.
[00:18:24]SONAYA: [00:18:24] So I feel like I get a lot of good advice, but the best that I’ve received that I feel is now sinking into me is taking it one step at a time. I’m a person that likes to look at the big picture and try to implement the whole big picture. And it never works. So the best advice for me is like, do it one step at a time. And what’s the first thing you can get done right now,
[00:18:46] VIRGINIA: [00:18:46] when you were saying this, I was picturing a puzzle and it was like, it’s like, no, you have to just focus on this one little image of the puzzle. You can’t put the whole puzzle together as you go.
[00:18:57] SONAYA: [00:18:57] Exactly. That’s a really good analogy. [00:19:00] Yeah. It’s like find that one piece first and eventually you completed your thousand piece puzzle.
[00:19:09] VIRGINIA: [00:19:09] So what do you think the best advice that you have ever given is.
[00:19:14]SONAYA: [00:19:14] I think the best advice I’ve given to people is to trust themselves. Because I think when I tell clients that I can see a total shift in how we work together and how they then kind of get their work done.
[00:19:27] VIRGINIA: [00:19:27] Do you think it’s like a societal thing that we don’t test ourselves? Like we should.
[00:19:33] SONAYA: [00:19:33] I do. I feel like we’ve kind of been conditioned to get opinions and feedback from so many other people that, so say for example, I have this idea for new revenue school and you know, it’s great. I’m going to do it. I know it’s great. But now I want to know what you think and oh, you think that. Oh,
[00:19:50] VIRGINIA: [00:19:50] I’m not even your ideal client. Why are you asking me
[00:19:53] SONAYA: [00:19:53] You see? There’s so many things out there? It’s like, trust yourself you have the answers all with [00:20:00] in and I think it took me a long time to actually figure that out myself. So that’s how I say it to clients a lot.
[00:20:07] VIRGINIA: [00:20:07] It’s like my daughter, like she, when she was like, say four, she would like come downstairs and have these crazy outfits on, but she felt beautiful.
[00:20:18] SONAYA: [00:20:18] Yeah,
[00:20:18] VIRGINIA: [00:20:18] I mean it’s not something I would wear it by any means, but who am I to squash her because she feels beautiful. Right. Go for it.
[00:20:28] SONAYA: [00:20:28] ExactlyI wish I could look at my kids and feel like I have the most calm. Like they have the best confidence, the best, like everything at that age and one, you don’t want to squash it, but it’s like, I want them to.
[00:20:40] VIRGINIA: [00:20:40] Right. It’s like gimme some, how can you share? It’s not that they want to take it away from you, but how do we like increase? Like make more so that we can share.
[00:20:50] SONAYA: [00:20:50] Exactly.
[00:20:51] I swear I look at my daughters every day and I’m just like, oh, You are like the best. And I want some of that. You’re so confident. You’re [00:21:00] so just I’m going to do it. I don’t care what you think. It’s like, I don’t care if I’m gonna get in trouble.
[00:21:05] VIRGINIA: [00:21:05] Right. It’s like, don’t lose that. So is there anything that we haven’t talked about yet that you would like to share?
[00:21:17] SONAYA: [00:21:17] The one thing I’ll say w for people, is that like be brave. And I think a lot of people say, be brave, you know, just leap and the net will appear. I know for me that it was a scary, I’m never the type of person that’s just going to jump with. Like, like I didn’t leave my full-time job until I was able to replace my income. And a lot of people say, you know, you have door a, you don’t need a door. Be commit to door A yeah. But sometimes you may need to have that second option. And I think that’s okay. And I think taking like one step at a time is not as scary. And I don’t think entrepreneurship has to be as scary if you were to create your plan and do it like one step at a time. And for me, [00:22:00] that’s being brave.
[00:22:01] VIRGINIA: [00:22:01] And I think maybe why people say like, well, you have a, you don’t need be, are you happy? You don’t need day it’s because like, I’m not giving B. The effort and the amount of time that I should be so that I can quit a, do you think that might be some thing that holds a lot of people back when they do that?
[00:22:20] SONAYA: [00:22:20] Yeah, I do. It’s like, you should give all your effort to one thing to make it work, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have any options at all
[00:22:31] Don’t put it all. You hear that? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and I definitely think you can’t, you shouldn’t do that well entrepreneurship because there may be some really great opportunity these that come along your way. I mean, like I started my business because I didn’t want to work 60 hours a week, but when I started my business, I surely did work more than 60 hours. So
[00:22:48] VIRGINIA: [00:22:48] So your why was really big on keeping you motivated?
[00:22:51] SONAYA: [00:22:51] Exactly. Yeah, definitely.
[00:22:54] VIRGINIA: [00:22:54] Cool. Well, thank you, Sonaya for the interview today. How can we find out more about you and what you do?
[00:23:00] [00:23:00] SONAYA: [00:23:00] Yeah, just check us firstname.lastname@example.org. We do webinars and all fun stuff there, and you’ll find everything at the CEO partner dot com
[00:23:09] VIRGINIA: [00:23:09] Well, thank you so much.
[00:23:11] SONAYA: [00:23:11] Thank you.
[00:23:11] VIRGINIA: [00:23:11] Have a great day and we’ll keep in touch.
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Virginia lives in Northern Alberta on a small farm with her husband and three children.
Virginia is a master funnel builder having been certified as an FG Society Master Marketer, Funnelytics, and ClickFunnels Certified Partner.
She also helps businesses with their visibility through online searches.
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