Growing a Million Dollar Online Course Institution with School of Motion founder Joey Korenman

Growing a Million Dollar Online Course Institution with School of Motion founder Joey Korenman

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How it’s possible even when you’re successful to change direction and create something that works better for your life
  • What signals of success let Joey know he was on to something
  • How building a team allows you to focus on what matters most to allow for company’s growth

A few years ago, School of Motion founder Joey Korenman, my guest on this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast, had achieved what he thought would mean true business success and happiness. Instead he realized he was so busy climbing the mountain of success he thought he should be on, he forgot to summit the mountain of success he wanted to be on. We talk about the path Joey took to build a $1 million online course institution for motion designers in less than 3 years and some of the lessons he learned along the way.

If at first you don’t find happiness; try, try again

It was a little bit of strategy and a little bit of naivety.

– Joey Korenman

Joey seemed to be living the dream. He had opened his own studio with two business partners. His office was in the heart of downtown Boston with a client list that included ad agencies for some of America’s biggest brands. About two years in, a daily 3-hour commute, all-nighters and client pressure to perform regardless of what it did to his work/life balance, Joey looked up and realized he was depressed and needed to “figure out an escape hatch.”

When he started to consider the possibilities, he didn’t know his new business would be selling training. Joey started a blog (even though he knew nothing about digital marketing) to teach people motion design after seeing Greyscalegorilla, a business in his space, was blogging. At the time he built his website, he had no idea how he was going to make money. After a trial period developing and selling plug-ins for animation tools, Joey realized what he really wanted to do was teach.

The moment he knew he was on to something

If you can bring someone from their head space into yours they will follow you anywhere.

– Joey Korenman

While blogging, Joey was honing his entrepreneurial skills and learning through resources from Pat Flynn, Tim Ferriss and Jaime Masters. He knew there was a need in his niche for an intent 6-week long course for intermediate motion designers where humans would review the work. The only problem? It would take 3 months to create the course he imagined; in the meantime, he had to keep paying the bills.

So, he took a bit of advice from Jaime and he decided to pre-sell a course (yes, a course he hadn’t even created). He sent an email (the email content is included as a case study in Pat Flynn’s book, Will It Fly?) out to a list of approximately 4,000 he built and very authentically told them he was going to build the animation course he wished he would have had coming up and he was going to explain more in a webinar. The webinar sold out in 5 minutes. At the end of the webinar the beta version of the course sold out in 5 minutes, and he made $5 grand in 5 minutes. These were clear signs Joey was onto something.

Building a team

Joey took it slow when building his team by first hiring a part-time contractor in part due to his fear of “having another mouth to feed.” However, every time he’s unable to focus on the work that he should do to build the company—content production and products—he realizes it’s time to hire another resource. Once the right person has joined the team in the right role, their collective productivity soars. And as Joey becomes better at learning to let go, he is finding ways to manage quality control in a different way rather than being involved in every aspect of the business. 

There’s a lot more in the full episode including a conversation about confidence and authenticity, customer acquisition and how Joey’s team is focused on creating systems that will catapult them to a $3 or $4 million-revenue company.

Become a subscriber of the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast on iTunes to get insights from today’s creative entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses, made money and found work/life balance.

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Lessons from Pre-$1 Million Businesses with MNIB Consulting Founder Breanne Dyck

Lessons from Pre-$1 Million Businesses with MNIB Consulting Founder Breanne Dyck

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Why you should figure out a different way to do what’s already working rather than start over with something new
  • Why the hub-and-spoke organization model isn’t sustainable for growth
  • How when you focus on things that feel easy to you, your results will improve

My guest this week on the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast is Breanne Dyck who published an interesting article earlier this year called “15 Lessons for Pre-$1M Online Businesses” that got a lot of play in our community. Breanne learned these lessons as she built her own business as the founder of MNIB Consulting Inc. and as she continues to help others build theirs. In this episode, we explore some of the lessons she wrote about with a focus on how they impacted Breanne’s business, MNIB Consulting.

Don’t Stop as Soon as Something Starts Working

Every time we pivot we get closer and closer to the thing that is ultimately going to work.

– Breanne Dyck

Breanne describes the big business model overhaul MNIB Consulting just went through where they reviewed all the products they have ever offered and evaluated what was working, what was not working and what’s the least complicated way to combine the things working and be the most transformative and impactful for their clients. As a result of this evaluation, they simplified their client support and made it very easy for their clients to come to them when they had questions.

Your Approach to Team Is Part of the Problem

What matters is, are you hiring someone that you can give ownership to of their entire area of responsibility?

– Breanne Dyck

The hub-and-spoke model of team development, where everything still goes through the CEO, doesn’t effectively free up the CEO to work within their zone of genius. Breanne describes how she specifically built her team from the org chart framework described in Gino Wickman’s book Rocket Fuel so that was not the case. When she hires new team members she gives them ownership of their entire area of responsibility.

Do What Feels Easy

Too often entrepreneurs get caught up in the “I have to do this” mentality even if it doesn’t feel easy. Breanne felt that way about blogging. She knew she needed to produce regular content, but blog writing never felt easy to her. So, she found ways to regularly produce content in different ways such as a daily email, posting in Facebook groups and podcasts.

This format for content is more conversational and off the cuff and allowed Breanne to process ideas as she was having them. And, you know what? Her daily email, a task that feels easy to her, is working remarkably well and the response rate is 10X that of when she was writing regular articles.

There’s so much more in this episode including how a line in Profit First by Mike Michalowicz led to a breakthrough for Breanne about how she would grow her business, what percentage of revenue online businesses should dedicate to salaries (including yours) and why Breanne stopped list building. Access the full episode to learn all of this and more.

Do you subscribe to the podcast? Jump on over to iTunes to listen to all episodes where today’s creative entrepreneurs share strategic and tactical components about how to make money, take control of their businesses and pursue what’s most important to them.

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Self-Publishing, Distribution, and Writing for Wealth with Author Joanna Penn

Self-Publishing, Distribution, and Writing for Wealth with Author Joanna Penn

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How the Amazon Kindle and ebook pricing made it possible for independent authors and entrepreneurs to self-publish and write for wealth
  • Why marketing, packaging, and pricing correctly can expand your sales
  • How mobile, audio, and the growth of the international market are the next opportunities for authors

Ever the entrepreneur, Joanna Penn, my guest on this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast and author of 26 books and counting, realized the potential to write for wealth in October 2009. That was when the Amazon Kindle launched internationally and lower ebook pricing allowed independent authors access to a much larger marketplace.

Ebook pricing was a revelation. When the Kindle came out, independent authors could price their books lower and still make good margins.

– Joanna Penn

Joanna’s entrepreneurial mindset quickly realized the potential to sell books digitally to people all over the world.

Online marketing, packaging and pricing

If you are going to publish online, you need to market online.

– Joanna Penn

In 2009, Joanna was miserable at her 9-5 job, so she decided to write her first non-fiction book. After self-publishing and self-marketing the book through traditional channels (PR, TV, and newspapers), Joanna had sold about “three copies.” At the time, she really wanted to tap into the American marketplace that was much larger than Australia’s, so her focus shifted to online marketing to reach those American readers. She ditched traditional media for anything with a clickable link; started a blog in 2008, a podcast and Twitter account in 2009.

Since “you can’t have a career with just one book,” don’t trap yourself into launching a website or social media channel for just one title. Chances are you will write another book, so make sure your branding can encompass this growth.

99 cents made the first Kindle millionaires.

– Joanna Penn

By 2011, Joanna had a number of books and realized that she could leave her miserable job because her income would grow based on the size of her audience and the number of books she had.

In the podcast, Joanna shares her insights about figuring out the right price point to get the highest number of people to purchase your book and why offering something for free to your audience is still very important to build your email list and give them a chance to sample your work to see if they like it.

Under her pen name for action/adventure thrillers, J.F. Penn, Joanna’s first book in a nine-book series, Stone of Fire is permanently free on Kindle. That freebie is like the cheese samples in the supermarket. You go in and try it. If you like it, you’ll buy the whole packet—or in this case, the reader will purchase the entire series or more books if they liked what they sampled for free.

Think of Amazon as a completely different ecosystem. Amazon’s algorithms will recommend your other books that are at a higher price point to shoppers when they show interest in your free book. This is why Joanna uses J.F. Penn for her action/adventure thrillers and Joanna Penn for her non-fiction writing—to fully leverage Amazon’s role as a search engine to get in front of the right audience without confusing the algorithms.

In addition, Joanna is adept at re-packaging her work to be more easily found on Amazon whether by adjusting titles, creating box sets or altering the categories she shows up in. If your book has gone stagnant on Amazon, look at changing the cover, the category, and keywords and putting some ads on it and you may restart the whole thing.

Growth of mobile and international marketplaces

Kindle apps on mobile. Audio through Alexa. Best-seller lists on Amazon. The digital transformation of publishing continues. Joanna predicts the next opportunity for independent authors will be international marketplaces, and a little foreshadowing, it might not be on Amazon.

You don’t want to miss a thing from my conversation with Joanna about self-publishing. Tune in to the full episode to learn more about how she repackages her work and what’s on the horizon for self-publishing.

Join us each week by subscribing to the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast on iTunes.

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The Power of Dedicated Social Networks with Mighty Networks Founder Gina Bianchini

The Power of Dedicated Social Networks with Mighty Networks Founder Gina Bianchini

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Why it’s time to disrupt our existing social networks
  • How we can create a better future when we connect individuals who share a common identity or interest
  • Why there’s room for the old social networks and new interest-driven social networks; entrepreneurs can leverage them both

While we may not have a crystal ball to predict the future transformation of social networks, we have Gina Bianchini as our guest on this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast, and she has some amazing thoughts about how social networks must evolve. Gina is the founder and CEO of Mighty Networks, a company that facilitates the creation of dedicated communities around an identity or interest, and founder and former CEO of Ning.

Existing social networks served a purpose but we have outgrown them

There’s just no substitute for people who are on your same path.

– Gina Bianchini

When Facebook started 11 years ago, it set out to help you consume information from people you already knew—former colleagues, college roomies, extended family members, high school and elementary school classmates. And, it did its job splendidly. Today, there are 2 billion people who are connected in ways they weren’t previously.

But, as Gina describes in the podcast, Facebook doesn’t support finding, meeting and breaking the ice with people who are on the same path as you—whether that path is a career or entrepreneurship, an illness, parenthood or more—via a newsfeed that whizzes by and gives no context for the updates that you see. Dedicated social networks solve that issue.

Small (with the ability to scale) is the next big thing

The people who don’t already know each other is the next chapter in how the world is going to create new relationships and a better future.

– Gina Bianchini

So, is small the next big thing? Tune in to the podcast to hear Gina’s full explanation, but the reality is that it doesn’t take a lot of people to make you feel like you’re in it together. At the same time, being in it together should be able to scale to larger numbers.

You can connect with people who are at the same stage as you (there’s a reason there’s a freshmen orientation), in the same region as you are and as the network grows you can meet more and more people that are just like you. An interest-driven network should focus on all the kinds of relationships that very naturally mirror the perfect environments of the real world.

So, it’s not really a matter of small versus large. What Gina loves about small though is that it feels attainable. Anyone can create a network based on an interest that then can create these really phenomenal moments and spark incredible relationships that don’t require millions, thousands or hundreds of people. It just requires a handful of people that care about each other.

How to use dedicated networks to grow your business

Think of your traditional social networks as your marketing (or the front of the house), while a dedicated network is the “back of the house” where you trade shop talk with like-minded people. A dedicated network doesn’t have to compete daily with hundreds or thousands of posts on divergent topics and issues and viral sensations.

When you try to use Facebook for everything in your business is where it falls down and where interest networks can really step up.

– Gina Bianchini

There are plenty of useful nuggets in the full episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. about the notion that interests bring us together, the power of dedicated social networks to enhance your life and your business success and the critical role word-of-mouth advertising is even for a venture capital-funded business such as Mighty Networks. Gina also shares what’s on the horizon for dedicated social networks—videos, smarter software (that can actually ORGANIZE events for the network) and revenue features to make the networks even more powerful.

All you need to do is to subscribe to Profit. Power. Pursuit. on iTunes so you access all episodes of our award-winning podcast with the best entrepreneurs of the 21st century.

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Giving Yourself Space to Explore with Monica Lee

Giving Yourself Space to Explore with Monica Lee

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Why a feeling of restlessness is the sign that it’s time to explore the possibilities for your business.
  • How to scale back or alter technologies and strategies to fit into your own goals and business. Just because everyone else is doing them, doesn’t make them right for you.  
  • Why you should embrace continuous exploration to be sure you and your business are headed in the direction you want to.

As artist, illustrator, mentor and podcaster Monica Lee shared on this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast episode, even entrepreneurs can “quit their jobs.” Really! Well, at least push the pause button to give yourself time and space to explore new directions and possibilities for how to make money in a way that is meaningful to you.

I sort of ‘quit my job.’ I kind of just had to stop and regroup and really ask myself: What do I want to be doing? What does my life look like earning money?

– Monica Lee

When you get restless, it’s time to explore

You really have to believe in your hustle. And be authentic about it.

– Monica Lee

When Monica found herself extremely restless about what she was doing and hustling for, she knew it was time to rethink her art and her creative career. Although it was a really, really hard decision, there was really no other option, Monica explains. So, she put a full stop on things that were generating income for her allow her the “elbow room” to make decisions on what she really wanted to be doing.

Evolving into your own

When Monica found herself in a creative transition, she challenged herself in a new way and jumped in full force to learn online marketing. She immersed herself in the goal to expand her business expertise. Monica learned how people developed their e-newsletter list. She started a video interview series that ultimately evolved into her podcast Smart Creative Women. She began mentoring other artists; with experience in licensing, illustrating, freelancing and in the children’s industry, she had a lot to offer. And, like every good online marketing person, she developed an e-course.

As the pendulum swung to the business side, Monica had to ask some hard questions. Was she a teacher? Was she an artist? How is her creativity going to show up or if she’s all in as a business person, should she just go be an art director for another company?

When I started asking myself those harder questions, that’s when I had to put a full stop. It was hard to execute things as I was peeling back the onion layers on myself and where I want to go.

– Monica Lee

Continuous exploration

What if this growth isn’t good? It’s that risk of not having everything turn out ok, but it’s doing it anyway.

– Monica Lee

Although there are people who can determine the balance between their entrepreneurial side and their creative or core offering by doing them both simultaneously, Monica found that if she was going to give herself the time and emotional space to truly figure out her direction, she had to set the business things aside. To get back in touch with her creative self, she traveled a lot and rediscovered what inspired her. Once her creativity was nurtured and she got back to creating work that was exciting to her, she added back the business side, but with more intention. Monica set her financial goals, and then worked backward from that to determine how she was going to make the money she wanted to.

As you will learn in the full episode of the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast, Monica continues to challenge herself in new ways and asks hard questions of herself to ensure that she’s on the right path—for her business and for herself.

We go live every Tuesday with tangible takeaways for your small business from some of today’s most inspiring business owners. Be sure to tune in every week and subscribe on iTunes to Profit. Power. Pursuit.

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Navigate a Slow & Steady Business Brand Transition with Racheal Cook

Navigate a Slow & Steady Business Brand Transition with Racheal Cook

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Why a slow-and-steady approach to change can still lead to success
  • How Racheal’s business evolved naturally and her brand was built intentionally
  • How publishing her last book helped her further grow her business

There’s nothing wrong with a slow-and-steady approach to change as Racheal Cook, my guest on this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast and author of Your Business Sweet Spot, reminds us.

In 2008 she started The Yogipreneur, her first business, by accident as she was recovering from a career in corporate consulting that had left her unhealthy and unhappy. While The Yogipreneur still exists, Racheal embraced a full brand change in 2014 and you can now find all her resources for entrepreneurs of holistic and service-oriented businesses, including the Sweet Spot Strategy, at Rachealcook.com.

Slow-and-Steady

I like to test things A LOT before I bring them forward.

– Racheal Cook

Rachael doesn’t rush things. When she left the corporate world, she took her time to figure out her next move. It ended up being entrepreneurship. When it was time to reorganize her business around the Sweet Spot methodology, she started testing ideas out within her program and on her alumni students who receive lifetime access to coursework. The evolution took more than 3 years. As a slow-and-steady girl, her vision right now is to stay focused on growing the program and strategy she has in place now rather than add other elements to it.

Branding Evolution

True to Racheal’s nature of slow and steady, the first steps to evolve her brand began in 2014. While she credits sticking to yogis in her early years with giving her “big breaks” quickly because she was seen as an expert, she noticed that she was attracting a more diverse clientele by 2014—doulas, midwifes, healthcare practitioners. The tip was happening naturally. Her ultimate brand evolution took many steps and several years.

The Sweet Spot, based on the Hedgehog Concept from Jim Collins’ Good to Great, but modified by Racheal to resonate with solopreneurs, was a concept that had always been part of her philosophy. As Racheal began to envision how her brand would evolve beyond yogis, The Sweet Spot was a natural focus. This time, rather than bootstrapping her branding, she hired a professional branding company, Public Persona and set out to update and modify her programs, rewrite her materials and website content, update photography and all the other things involved with rebranding, on the side—all while the business continued to hum along and make money.

As long as you’re helping people they will forgive a lot of imperfections in how it looks.

– Racheal Cook

Book Helps Drive Business

If they like the content, they will love the support.

– Racheal Cook

Racheal was motivated to write her second book, Your Business Sweet Spot, because she needed to create a resource that was easily digestible for her students to pick up. Rather than write it from scratch, she pulled together all her coaching calls, transcripts, worksheets and more, and edited them into a book. While it only covers about 1/8 of what she does with her students, it gives the most foundational pieces of information. It also gives prospective clients a taste of what is to come when working with her. They can “try you out” very inexpensively to see if investing in classes makes sense.

You don’t want to miss a word of my interview with Racheal. Listen to the full episode at Profit. Power. Pursuit. to delve deeper into her brand transition, why she was initially hesitant to write her book and more.

Next week, we will have another interview with one of today’s most inspiring business owners. Don’t miss a single episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit and subscribe on iTunes.

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Tara Gentile is on a mission to turn the small business owners of today into the economic powerhouses of tomorrow. She's the creator of Quiet Power Strategy®, a business design system and entrepreneurial family. She's also the host of Profit. Power. Pursuit., which Entrepreneur named one of the 24 top woman-hosted business podcasts.