#01: Why Virtual Business Is The Future

Our team, Tier 11, has been run as a completely virtual business from the start. We’ve grown from just Ralph and a VA, into a thriving team of nearly 40 located across 5 continents, 14 countries and counting.

Your hosts, Deacon Bradley (VP), Angela Ponsford (VP), and Ralph Burns (CEO & Founder) share the story of how they each went from the corporate world to starting and leading a worldwide virtual team.

Check out our upcoming episodes as we build the must have foundation of your virtual team.


Deacon Bradley 0:05

Welcome to the Virtual Business podcast. I’m your host, Deacon Bradley. And I’m joined today by my co host, Angela Ponce, furred and Ralph burns. And I think we’re all really excited to share about our experiences running virtual business at Gosh, we’re at almost 40 employees now kind of Upper 30s we’re across I just informed Ralph our CEO. We’re now across five continents not for just picked up a team member in Columbia recently, but five continents, 14 countries and we’ve been doing this for a long time. And we I think we’ve been really excited because we all believe that virtual is the future of business. We’ve all been kind of excited to share what it how it is that we’re doing things and I think it’s only recently that we’ve realized just how valuable that skill set is and how urgently we we can help People with that, Ralph, I’m really curious, like, talk a little bit about you are not from like you didn’t start out in your 20s in a virtual business, you know, like you came up through the corporate ranks, and then at some point, you’re running a virtual business. Talk a little bit about that.

Ralph Burns 1:16

Yeah, I mean, I think this, this show is just, I’m just so excited to talk about this, because not only am I so proud of what we’ve been able to do here at Tier 11, with you guys, obviously, as being key members of the team. But this is something that is a necessity. And I think it is the future of business. And I think when we first started doing this, I felt that was the way and there still is resistance to running virtual teams or remote teams versus physical locations. There’s a lot of issues that people feel like they’re going to have things that we’re going to address on this show, not only from a leadership and a management perspective, but from a really tactical perspective. How do you actually get stuff done? So, but I’ve always sort of felt like this is the future of business, but not only because I want to be some sort of, you know, futurist, I really had no choice. Quite honestly, I was fired 10 years ago and I had no way of making any money. And my wife at that point in time and still my wife to this day, about a year prior to me getting fired a year and a half prior to me getting fired. She gave me a book for our ninth wedding anniversary, which is now something that so many people in our industry have read or listen to is the four hour workweek from Tim, Tim Ferriss. And that book is still relevant to this day. Some of the ideas are a little bit outdated, but she gave me that book, she’s like, you need to read this book. You are miserable. Right now. You know, these guys are going to come after you and probably within the next year or so you probably won’t have a job in the corporate world. And so you need to plan for the future and So I actually read the book. I gave her an ethernet cable, by the way, just a great present. Yeah, great. I got the better end of that deal. And believe it or not, we actually found it like three or four months ago, it was in a drawer somewhere. My wedding anniversary card that I had handmade, pathetic gift. But anyway, so the book was the idea behind the book was, why have a physical location, why not run a virtual business through this thing called the internet. And the internet was still sort of in a big growth phase at that point in time. So I decided, well, I’m going to start a business right now. And about a year after that, I was surely fired from the corporate world, not for the first time, but the second time guys can do in a big corporate shake up. And I’m sure we’d love to get into that at some later episode. But the point was, is that I didn’t really know what to do. So we started in essence What we’re doing right now and a different incarnation. You know, running traffic as an ad agency right now is what we do. When I first started, I was running traffic, learning how to use Facebook and Instagram and Google ads and Bing Ads and all the display networks for affiliate offers, as well as for my own business, which failed incredibly badly on sales management, which now we use a lot of those tenants here to actually run and lead our teams. So that was my start. And then, you know, about seven or so years ago, we really sort of pivoted towards running advertising for customers based upon Facebook and Instagram advertising. And that’s when we started recruiting. And Angela was, was recruited through I think, you know, Facebook message. Deacon came on board later is, you know, going through a certification program that we had done, we had run it all virtually and then actually had a physical location. So through All that we’ve built, you know, a team of upwards of 40 people now, five continents pretty excited about that just found out about the fifth one. Today, 14 countries and we’re on track to be an eight figure business within the next year, year and a half, we’re in the seven, figure mid to high seven figure range right now. And we’ve done it all virtual. And, you know, I think our expertise here is like, we never did it any other way. And that’s what we’re here to really talk about, and to teach you how to do it. If you’re in a situation where you now find that you have to learn how to do it really fast, or you’re starting a business and you’re not really sure exactly what to do. That virtual is the way to go, in our opinion. And, you know, can’t can’t wait to fill you in on all the details of how we were able to do it.

Deacon Bradley 5:50

Angela, I know you also had kind of an interesting how like, you came from the corporate world as well. And then at some point you’re running virtual businesses. What what what made you make that transition?

Angela Ponsford 6:03

Yeah, so, um, I had, I had kind of left the corporate and from the UK and come to Australia and wasn’t you know, I’m a, I’m a forensic chemist by degree, but I’d left that world that that chemistry world, and we’re just doing, you know, different jobs when I was in Australia. So I was working in an office in Byron Bay, which is the, you know, Eastern lucidly point of Australia. I was working in an office there. I was actually doing some online stuff. It was an it was actually an e commerce business, but they had a physical shop as well. So I was beginning to dabble in the kind of online space and then I got pregnant with twins. And I was still a casual worker. So I wasn’t, you know, going to be getting maternity leave. I stopped working, you know, just before I had the twins. Luckily though, I was working on some projects with that business and I was able to do a little bit at home for the month that I was at home before having the twins. And so that kind of planted the seed as well had the twins. I’m in Australia don’t have any family nearby. My husband’s family don’t live nearby either he worked full time and made that realization. I am not going back to a job anytime soon with with twin babies and you know, there’s wait lists for daycare. I didn’t want to put them into daycare at that point. But even if I’d wanted to the most of the places locally did not have to sports for same age kids. So that in itself just logistically, it was an issue for me to even think about, there’s no way that I was going back into an office anytime soon, or any job. So started, started kind of teaching myself affiliate marketing, and just dabbling in social media. I’d already been doing that. So then really just thought, why not have my own business? And yeah, that’s where it all started. It was you know, becoming a mom, knowing that, you know, it’s just a challenge to deal with, you know, have kids and work and to go out to work. You know, I feel for For mums that have to you know, they have no choice they have to go out to start a physical location. They have to rely on family or they have to pay for for childcare. I feel for for people who are in that situation and, you know, part of my motivation for doing this podcast as well as to help mums and to help people who just just don’t think they have another option and to let them know there is another option. You can work from home and you can absolutely have your kids from home and they can absolutely see their mum on you know, working and earning money and not leaving the house and and be proud of that.

Ralph Burns 8:35

Yeah, I get it. It’s so important the kid part of the equation. When I was in the corporate world, and this was 20 plus years, it’s like I’m not like a young dude that just figured this out like so for 20 years. But for the first, you know, four or five years of my kids lives, I was commuting back and forth to Boston as well as to Connecticut. Each commute, one way was upwards of three hours. Like that’s five to six hours, say in the car and I was on the phone the entire time and I was missing my kids growing up. I was like, What the hell am I doing? And that’s when, you know, my wife gave me the book, but I was, I was making a lot of money. Okay, a great corporate job, you know, going through the whole, like climbing the corporate ladder kind of thing. And every way it was, I was supposed to be happy, but I was miserable. And a lot of it had to do with physical location, as well as working for assholes, which I know don’t work. Thankfully, I work with cool people now. But yeah, that’s a huge part of of the impetus behind what we want to do here from a quality of life standpoint. You can’t beat it. You can also develop professionally. And we’ll obviously talk about the challenges between you know, professional and personal and there are challenges They go along with it. But it is the best way to run an organization in my opinion. And I still see my kids all the time, even though they’re now you know, grown up and some of them are in college. But it was a huge motivator behind it just like it was for you.

Angela Ponsford 10:12

Yeah, totally. What about you, Deacon?

Deacon Bradley 10:15

I’m going with kids. It was it was definitely the same thing. I’m looking at my kids right outside of my office right now I’ve got French doors. So blessing and a curse there. I can’t see them. But sometimes they can see me and so I do have a child lock on that door as a result. But I remember when my oldest who’s seven now was was just an infant. And that was kind of a turning point. For me. I had always kind of gravitated towards entrepreneurship. So I’m in Austin, Texas, big technical hub here and I live in the suburbs. I work downtown where all the jobs are. And I was spending nowhere near Ralph’s commute but probably 90 minutes on the way home. Probably 45 minutes to get there. And I Just remember, I didn’t like it before I had kids. But when I had kids, my youngest when he was an infant used to go to bed for the night at like 5pm 5:30pm. And I would get home at seven. And I just really, I found that frustrating and, and one of the things I could see kind of looking into the future was one like I wanted more time with my kids and spend less time in the car. But to just city infrastructure, there is no way that Austin was going to be able to develop infrastructure to speed traffic up. Like there’s no doubt about it, it’s going to get worse. And so I was just determined to figure out what could I do from home, whether that’s working for a different company, starting my own thing, something like that. And then I guess when my oldest was about three, I kind of got pushed off the dock into the lake, so to speak, I got laid off, and I never went back. And so that was kind of my Biggest thing and I absolutely love working from home is a big challenge because my youngest is now just turned three. So, I mean, he’s up here like pushing all the hide my keyboard and mouse. At times, if I leave my pin out with my planner, he’s like drawing in it or on the desk. So it’s a little bit of a zoo sometimes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. And it’s just so cool to see the impression that it’s made on my kids lives, that they are a part of my work and that they see me doing my work. Kinda like both of you guys are talking about it. Well,

Angela Ponsford 12:33

totally. Yeah, I just had my you know, one of my 10 year old twins poppin before because it’s morning time here when I’m recording and you know, they’ve just woken up and she opens the door and if she sees that I’ve got my earphones in and you know, I make a she’s like, oh, okay, she knows I’m on a call or a meeting or something. So they get it and it’s pretty cool.

Ralph Burns 12:52

Yeah, it’s an interesting somebody wants told me that. You know, kids seeing you work actually sets a really high standard for them. And when you’re not there, like you don’t really know what you’re doing. They know that you know, and dad’s talking into his microphone, he’s got his headphones on, obviously, or he’s talking to somebody and nobody else is in the room except, you know, on a Zune call, like we’re doing here, they need to not come in and bother me. They were actually very well trained, because my wife had trained them that way, cuz she runs a virtual business as well. You know, and that’s her on the other side of that door over there, between the copy room, which we refer to as the demilitarized zone, because no one ever goes in there. But the point is like that, it rubs off on your kids like, yeah, you can still work and you can still have a really good professional life. And I think it’s ingrained in them a deep and profound sense of work ethic, but also, it from my perspective, it hasn’t denigrated The, the relationship that I have with them or reduce the amount of time I can spend with them. I might be working a lot but I’m still always there. And then, you know, some of the challenges that we’ll face, you know, you’ll faces or remote worker or Virtual Business are like, where do you draw those lines? And we’re still struggling with that. And we’ll go through that in future episodes. But I think the kid element is a big motivator here. And it’s a common thread between all three of us as well as most of the people, you know, I would say on the tier 11 team in one way, shape, or form. Yeah.

Deacon Bradley 14:29

Thanks for tuning in. We’ve got a lot of really great important episodes coming up, I think more important than any of us really anticipated they will be. There’s an interesting quote that I always have been looking back on a lot lately, TJ’s, once people get a taste of remote business, they never go back. So I’m really interested to see how the world is going to look after we get past all the stuff we’re dealing with now. I think there’s gonna be a lot of changes in these tools and best practices are going to be really important. So coming up in episode, we’re gonna be talking about the tools that we use to run our team, the best practices with those tools, because like any tool, if you use it wrong, it’s gonna be painful. been doing this for over seven years, and we’ve got a lot to share in that department. We’ll also be talking about how to manage a remote team. How do you know what your team is doing? How do you guys coordinate on work, all really different in a virtual environment. We’ll also talk about how to make sure that your team has a great culture, even if you never meet face to face. And that’s one that’s been really fun for us to discover, as our team is spread across five continents, still looking for that six continent, Africa, if you’re out there, shoot us a message. And yeah, it’s always fun when we get together. It’s like we’ve been friends forever. And we owe that all to these tools that we’ll be talking about in upcoming episodes. But of course, there’s been a huge amount of challenges as well, even for us who’ve got this pretty well dialed in after over seven years. There’s a lot of challenges and we’ll be talking about Those two so look for those episodes coming up. See you later.

Unknown Speaker 16:05

Yeah. See ya.