SFR 223: Start An Entrepreneur But End A CEO – Stephen Larsen

SFR 223: Start An Entrepreneur But End A CEO

Mar 8th, 2019 anchorwave

Once your product is selling, creativity shifts to the development of systems in the business…


Being an entrepreneur is amazing. It’s very sexy and really cool… but it’s also the place where you’re gonna feel MOST exhausted!

I have been hustling my face off for years, and I don’t want to die behind a desk.

Steve Larsen entrepreneurial mindset

So, I want to show you how being able to do a dance between the entrepreneurial mindset and that of a CEO, is the ONLY way I’ve seen to enable you to create the freedom that most of us crave when we start the entrepreneur’s journey.

The CEO and entrepreneur are NOT the same thing. Just like a business owner is NOT the same thing as the CEO.

There’s a time and a place for both roles, but they’re very different.

And I wanna talk to you a little bit more about what I mean by that…


I was on a yacht heading towards the Bahamas with some of the ClickFunnels crew (two weeks before Funnel Hacking Live) when I decided to share this concept with you…

Steve Larsen leadership development

I’d NEVER been on a yacht in my entire life.

In fact, in the last six months, I’ve done more things than my previous thirty years combined…

And I was able to sit back and think about what’s made all the difference in the last little bit of my journey…

I used to squeeze every second out of every day to build my product. I woke up super freaking early for years.

I’m the eight-year overnight success story. I’ve pushed hard. I’ve been hustling my face off for years.

I’m the capitalist pig, baby, but I didn’t start that way.

Capitalist pig successful business

I had my own money barriers to overcome. I had a lot of ideas that were just not correct.

I’m very introspective. I love watching patterns and I wanted to see what patterns made all the difference… and one thing that I realized was…

A lot of what causes wealth is NOT taught.

To become successful, I had to uninstall crap in my head and reinstall different software than what I was raised with.

How to run a successful business

That’s no knock against my parents, my heritage, or the way I was raised.


If you wanna learn how to make money make sure the person you’re taking advice from is rich. You know what I’m saying?

If someone tells you, “You’ll make more money doing this…”

If they’re poor… DON’T LISTEN!

STOP listening to advice from other people who aren’t rich or, who haven’t already attained what you’re going for.

I’m not gonna let someone who’s overweight tell me how to lose weight.

I’ve been very careful on who to listen to and who to purposefully block out of my mind.

Steve Larsen entrepreneurial mindset hat

I attribute more of my success to this one act than a lot of the other strategies I teach you guys on Sales Funnel Radio. Which is weird, man.

But I gotta be honest with you, I would NOT have believed that myself if someone else said that to me even three or four years ago.

I’d have thought, “Oh, it’s because he’s had exposure with Russell…”

Looking back, I realize, crap!

  • I’m very careful about who I listen to.
  • I understand clearly that products don’t sell themselves.
  • I’m very good at sales message writing now.
  • I’m good at one to many styled sales pitches. (That’s helped tremendously).
  • I’m very, very good at listening to advice that is from people who are further on the SAME path I’m trying to follow.

If someone’s a really good cook, but I’m not trying to be, I’m not gonna listen when they tell me how to make money…

Steve Larsen and Russell Brunson leadership development


I’ve recently hit a million dollars.

Not in a single funnel, so it’s NOT officially the Two Comma Club.

But my business has only been around officially for 14 months. So to make a million bucks out the gate. That’s NOT normal.

In my mind, a million dollars is NOT wealthy. 10 million dollars, (in my opinion), is NOT wealthy…

But it’s not a bad shot coming out of the gate.

Successful business out of the gate

One of the things that’s helped me like crazy is that once I have a product that sells, I STOP trying to be an entrepreneur… and I start, as fast as possible, to become a CEO.

Understanding the massive difference between a business owner, a CEO, and an entrepreneur has helped.

I didn’t that would be a defining concept for me… (and it doesn’t mean it will be for you), but for me, it’s been MASSIVE.


What is entrepreneurial mindset

Q: Would you consider a McDonald’s franchise owner an entrepreneur?

A: I don’t.

Q: What are they entrepreneuring? #madeupword

A: They’re NOT entrepreneuring ANYTHING!

They’re a business owner.

Q: So what is a business?

A: A business is a series of systems that:

  • Bring leads in
  • Closes on them
  • Fulfills
  • Brings new leads
  • Closes on them
  • Fulfills…

A business is just a set of systems, that’s all it is. And if you don’t have any systems, YOU ’RE the business.


How to master leadership development

When you’re an entrepreneur, typically you DON’T have a lot of systems in place… and it’s one of the reasons why you might sometimes feel like you’re spinning your wheels.

I’m very good at being an entrepreneur…

BUT what I’m being tested on right now, is my ability to be a CEO.

A CEO is a business owner who’s got a little bit of flexibility in how he moves.

I’m on my second product in the last 13 months, and it’s working very well…

So I want to see how fast I can:

  • Build systems so that I’m no longer the business?
  • Own systems rather than just a product?

I want to go from entrepreneur to CEO as fast as possible.

Successful business CEO

….And it’s going really, really well, but it’s A LOT of work.


One of the major things that I’ve noticed that’ll screw people up is making new products one after the other. This works really well if you already have a business…

If you already have the systems in place.

If you DON’T, my friends, that is very challenging because YOU are the business.

Entrepreneurial mindset warning

If you’re treating fulfillment, each customer inquiry, each support ticket, if each sale, each lead, differently…

YOU DON’T HAVE A BUSINESS (but you do have a bucket load of stress)!

So here’s what I do to avoid this problem:

  1. I start selling the idea before I create the product.
  2. When the idea is enough to bring in cash, then I finish making the product.
  3. After I finish making the product, I’m selling, I’m selling, I’m selling, I’m selling.
  4. Next, I start to build systems that bring in leads, close them, qualify them, all automatedly – it’s called a sales funnel!
  5. Then, I build up systems to fulfill – Support ticketing systems, maybe there are packages that we need to create and send on out.

It’s all the things that the business needs to make sure I’m NOT the one fulfilling on it.

For Example:

My first product that I left my job to create, I honestly haven’t touched that side of the business for, like, seven months. It’s been a long time…

But it’s still making a lot of money!

Money making leadership development

Check this out…

We put two thousand dollars in ads just on a test a little bit ago. We brought in 18 grand from it.

We’re putting a dollar in and getting nine dollars out.

So crazy! Absolutely nuts.

I’m excited just to scale, scale, scale, scale, scale as that adds up.

But the point is…

If you don’t have systems, you don’t have a business.

If you’re making new products consistently, it’s gonna be very challenging for you to stop for a moment and build systems… and things will probably break!

Successful business systems

It’s a dance between marketing and systems. That’s all it is…

  • Marketing
  • Systems
  • Marketing
  • Systems
  • Marketing
  • Systems

I do a whole bunch of marketing and break a lot of beliefs, get a lot of people to me, and start selling like crazy…

But then, when I notice that my revenue starts to outdo my systems (this kinda sucks, but I haven’t found another way around it yet)…

I voluntarily pull back my revenue just a little bit so that I can go turn up my systems to allow my marketing to go further the next time.

Entrepreneurial mindset balance

It’s like this teeter-totter back and forth going higher and higher and higher.

I haven’t found another way besides that.


The things that have made all the difference for me are:

  1. Making sure I know what advice I’m following and what advice I’m NOT following.
  2. Understanding that as soon as I have a product that’s selling well, an offer that actually works, then it’s all about transitioning to a CEO and building systems and then leveraging existing followings.

My gosh, it takes so much time, so much effort to create a following. It takes a lot of time to create a following.

Leveraging existing followings is the easiest.

Every time I see Russell Brunson, myself or Dana Derricks talk about the Dream 100, sometimes I will see people’s eyes roll.

You are missing the greatest hack of the game ever.

You could spend years, tons of money, lots of time, lots of effort, energy, mental cognitive shelf space, to build your own following (and you should!)

…But if that’s your ONLY strategy… it takes so freakin’ long!

Successful business followings

I wish someone had walked up to me and said, “Stephen, what if you just ask all of the people who have a little bit more influence than you do to be joint on a product together with you…What if that’s what you did?”

That would have been super cool!

A huge percentage of them would probably have said, YES!

I would have leveraged all their existing following, and I would have crowd created a product with people who already had a following… catapulting me to their level.

I wish that someone had said that… but that’s ALL I do now.

Watch what I’m doing in the next, especially like six months. I am doing very much that.

I am leveraging the followings of other people.

Not in a negative way, but in a way that gives a lot of tons of kudos, lots of value back to the actual big person.

Holy crap, that’s so much easier. I wish all my products had started that way.

Business leadership development

Anyway, hopefully, that makes sense to you.

As FAST as possible:

  1. Try to become a CEO and not just an entrepreneur.
  2. Build systems.
  3. Don’t be a launch business where you just constantly have to launch new products in order to stay afloat.
  4. Build one product that’s really freakin’ awesome then systems to support it. Then once you do that, start leveraging the followings of other people in the same area that you sell into to go sell more and faster… That’s it!

If you’re constantly having to build new products just to keep the cash flow coming in. That sucks!

I’m realizing that getting to 10 million dollars is actually NOT that crazy.

I think it’s gonna happen way faster than even I’m thinking because that’s what I’m focusing on.

I’ve got something that’s awesome, it’s extremely unique, no one else is doing it. Which is super cool. I can go on and leverage the followings of other people and create mine at the same time. Makes the game way easier.

I know I spat it out a lot there, but my brain has been spinning on:

  • Why I suffered for like four or five years while nothing was working out?
  • Why was there so many repeated failures for so long?
  • Why did so many businesses fail and then, suddenly, almost every funnel I’ve launched in the last thirteen months has killed it.
  • Why the sudden transition?
  • Why is it working?

It’s NOT just that I have a following.

There’s something that I’m doing here because I’m launching things in areas where I DON’T have a following.

Those are the questions I’ve been asking myself recently. So I’m gonna be spouting off a few of those answers and observations here as I keep going forward.

I just need you to understand…

Do NOT listen to the money advice of those who are poor!

Entrepreneurial mindset

Capitalist Pig, Baby, okay!

  1. Listen to those who have money and who are farther on the same path you’re trying to go down.
  2. As fast as possible, move from entrepreneur to CEO. It’s cool to be an entrepreneur but if you don’t wanna have that wheel spinning feeling, go to being a CEO as fast as possible.
  3. I always will go entrepreneur, CEO, entrepreneur, CEO. There’s a bounce back and forth, but you can’t stay in one role the entire time.

There’s a transition back and forth that you need to have, otherwise, you’re gonna stay in a launch style business where you’re exhausted, and you’re dead.

Leadership development for your business

Building a product, building offer, all that stuff matters, but understanding your role in the game, and staying clear on that helps like crazy.

After you have built a product, you move from entrepreneur to CEO:

  • You’re building systems.
  • Your role is to leverage the followings of other people.
  • It’s about the Dream 100.
  • It’s about finding MORE people who are willing to go and drop this out to their communities.

And therein, my friends, lies the very fast cash, and that’s the thing that I’ve realized in the past little bit here.

Successful business

I’ve made way more money on this trip than if I was staying behind my desk because of systems because I treat myself like a CEO now.

I have 20 people who are working for me now.

One full-time employee, (well, two including myself)… and then 18 other people and contractors who are filling roles which are a part of existing systems that I’ve built so I DON’T have to be an entrepreneur with a launch business.

I’m not in the launch business. I’m in a real business. A real company that I’m building.

Don’t just build products, build companies. Build systems. Be a CEO.

That’s the biggest thing I realized in the past little bit here watching all these people, especially at the 10X Growth Con.


  1. Please take stock of where you are and where you’re not.
  2. Look at some of the misconceptions you’re experiencing about what it takes to NOT just build successful products, but a lifestyle with a business.

And that, my friends, is what’s gonna be the major game changer for YOU.

I’m very good at is building sales messages, offers, and funnels, that go crush it.

What I’m learning now is how to build systems, and that’s where my weakness is.

I’ve been building systems which let me:

  • Fulfilling faster and better.
  • Support better.

…We’ve systemized like crazy.

Dude, my content machine is so awesome. It’s so tight…

Entrepreneurial mindset content machine

I know the quality of my content and what it’s gonna be. I’m just super stoked about it.


I found that I’d forgot to pack shorts for my trip to the Bahamas. *That Sucks* I’m sweating my face off, man. Anyway, whatever…

Company leadership development

Build actual companies, NOT just cool products.


Until Next Time… KEEP CRUSHING IT!

Hey, just real quick:

A few months ago Russell asked me to write a chapter for a secret project he was doing. I had to write a chapter for a book, this was the letter I got from him.

He said:

“Hey Stephen, let me ask you a quick question…

You suddenly lose all your money, along with your name and your reputation, and only have your marketing know-how left.

You have bills piled high and people harassing you for money over the phone.

You have a guaranteed roof over your head, a phone line, an internet connection, and a ClickFunnels account for only one month.

You no longer have your big guru name, your following, your JV partners. Other than your vast marketing experience, you’re an unknown newbie…

What would you do from day #1 to day #30 to save yourself?

Russell Brunson

Hey, if you want to see my answer and a bunch of other marketers who also answered that in this amazing book and summit, just go to

Steve Larsen One Funnel Away Challenge

You can see the entire summit, you can see the book, you can see what we wrote in there and each of our detailed plans. Just go to

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