Heights Platform The Myth of Needing Money to Succeed in an Online Course Business

The Myth of Needing Money to Succeed in an Online Course Business

4 minute read

It isn’t necessary to spend tens of thousands on marketing and ads when you launch your online course business.

Start with your existing client base. If you don’t have an existing client base, start by creating content and validating your idea with a few people. There shouldn’t be any shame in starting out, and to be doing something at all is already more than many can say about themselves.

Heights Platform grows with you, so you can comfortably enable features like the member list and discussion forums after you grow. This way you can branch off from a more personal experience into a more community oriented one as the number of students in your courses grow.

Building a business that depends on huge and expensive launches to be a success is one that involves a great deal of risk and expense. Personally we don’t believe this type of path is the right path to take, even if you do have extra money to invest in yourself early on.

We strongly believe that the most likely path to success is also one that happens to require the least expense from the course creator. It is much easier to take a slow and steady approach where you continuously put out content and improve your course and your marketing, than one that depends on an expensive all or nothing launch. Iterating with an intentionally small audience helps you improve with the least risk and most potential for success.

While some of the biggest course creators in this space have been able to make tens of millions of dollars using costly and time consuming launch strategies, they likely didn’t start that way when they first began selling a course. Intelligent business owners will always test on a smaller scale before committing to a larger expense.

Managing and Reducing Risk Where Possible

The stories you read about on tech blogs and in the news about a team selling their company for a billion dollars or reaching 500 million users are outliers.

It is important to consider what is needed for your product to become successful. The approach of some of the outliers that you hear about is often the riskiest, and not the one you may want to take.

If you want the online course and program you are selling to not only impact the world, but also impact your bank account in a way that is more reliable, then find a business model that will only require 1000 or even 100 customers for you to be successful.

While it is a bit more focused on tech startups than online course businesses, I really enjoy this post from the creators of the project management system Basecamp: https://signalvnoise.com/posts/3972-reconsider. There they discuss how putting your dent in the universe is a great thing, and it isn’t necessary to “own the universe”.

I wanted the best odds I could possible get at attaining the tipping point of financial stability. In the abstract, economic sense, a 30% chance of making $3M is as good as a 3% chance of making $30M is as good as a 0.3% chance at making $300M. But in the concrete sense, you generally have to make your pick: Which coupon is the one for you?

The strategies employed to pursue the 30% for $3M are often in direct opposition to the strategies needed for a 0.3% shot at making $300M. Shooting for the stars and landing on the moon is not how Monday morning turns out.

― David Heinemeier Hansson, Founder of Basecamp.com

Being ambitious is important, working towards something is important.

If you truly desire to be the “unicorn” outlier and nothing less, then by all means go for it. If impacting the lives of a few thousand people with your knowledge and making a great living doing so would make you happy, then I would recommend against feeling the need to be the “unicorn”.

Treat selling your online course like any other business and work towards reducing risk for yourself while creating the best outcome possible. The best investors make investments that are dramatically in their favor. They do not become successful by risking it all. Instead they invest when they stand to gain significantly, and if things go wrong they will lose only a little if nothing at all. Great investors don’t take 50/50 bets.

So if you have not already, get started today! In today’s landscape there is more opportunity than ever. Don’t let anything slow you down from reaching your goal.

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