How To Build An Online Course Business In 2023 

To build an online course business in 2023 and beyond, there are three essential elements. Whether you’re an expert, coach, consultant, or thought leader, you need these elements if you want to be successful.

Most expert business creators struggle, especially in their first few years of business. Why? Because you have a lot of skill and experience in your specialty, but building and scaling a business requires a wide range of skills and expertise that no single person possesses.

The biggest difference between what I call the struggling solopreneur and the successful virtual CEO of their own expert business is how quickly they realize that trying to do it all by themselves is a serious mistake and how they fill those gaps.

The reason the three pillars we’ll cover in this episode are so important is because no online business can grow or scale without them. When you don’t put them in place from the very beginning, you literally guarantee that you’ll burn out before seeing success. You want to make sure you stay to the end because each of the three pillars is critical and each depends and builds on the other.

Systemizing your online course business

The first element is starting with systems. Thinking of your business as a set of systems, processes, and procedures is the most important step you can take towards success. For some of you, this will resonate immediately. The engineers, the technical professionals, like I was, you know, personality types that like organization and structure.

The rest of you’re about to tune out and find something else to watch! Before you bail rest assured that I’ll show you that you don’t have to become a systems and process geek if you don’t want to. First, let’s demystify what a system is. A system is just a set of inputs, actions, and outputs that you define, measure, and try to improve.

Here’s an example, content creation. When you create content for your business, the objective is usually to raise awareness in sales of your expertise, products, or. Thinking of content as a system, you would then think about the inputs, actions, outputs, and metrics related to content creation. Inputs would be the information you use to pick your video topics.

Actions would be how you create your videos. Outputs would be the videos and related assets that you create. Metrics are the things you can measure, like views, clicks, leads that tell you if your system, The content creation is example, is achieving your objective, which is raising awareness of sales of your service.

So why is it powerful to think this way and define your business as a set of systems? Because systems are the key to both continuous improvement and delegating work. As the CEO of your business, Improving and delegating is the key to success and growth. Now, for those of you with the personality types, where this feels boring or constraining, it can actually be the exact opposite because systems can free you from ever having to deal with the boring.

The example above a content creation system can be defined where all you do is the content itself and all the other things like research and editing, and posting and analyzing are all done by others. If you zoom out a bit, you’ll see that all businesses require certain systems like product development, project management, content marketing, sales, and support.

These are dependent on each other. If any are missing or not performing well, then the business will fail. It should already be clear that trying to perform all of those functions yourself is a mistake. Is anyone an expert or even just average at all? Those special. This is why most solo entrepreneurs fail.

They either try to do all these things and do them poorly, or they try to build them one at a time. Like I’ll just do content for a year to build my list. Then I’ll sell. When success requires them all to be in place at the same time. The key to success in 2022 and beyond when all of us are competing against larger influencers, brands, and companies, is to define your expert business as a set of systems within each system.

You then define standard operating procedures that enable you to automate and delegate as much of the work as possible. For each system you measure and improve initially, quarterly, and then down to monthly and weekly As your business matures for chorus membership and coaching types of businesses, there are nine essential systems that your business must.

I’ve created a free resource that shows you what those systems are, as well as the key metrics for ’em. Click the link below and I’ll show you how to. Now to be honest, even those of us that like systems in the structure often dread the thought of having to write hundreds of SOPs and checklists that a business requires.

Choosing the best tools for your online course business

Luckily, that can be delegated and outsourced too. I’ll cover that in just a few minutes. The next key pillar is the right tools. Okay, so hopefully we agree that systems are a key pillar of success in business. Next up is tools and technology that bring their systems to. Most of us, myself included, get bombarded with marketing and FOMO for tools and technology.

Whatever gurus you’re following are either affiliates for or creators of their own software that they’re trying to lock you into. Many of us have bought tools that we’ve never used or ones that we have no idea how to use. It’s okay. I’m a tool junkie to. There’s probably a 12 step program for that, but I’ll boil it down to one putting in place.

The smallest number of tools are required to implement the systems your business needs to improve the metrics you care about. So let’s break that down. The smallest number of tools there is a happy medium we want to find between the two extremes. The first is trying to find one tool to rule them all.

There are hundreds of companies like Kajabi and Kartra, and Teachable, et cetera. They want to convince you that you only need their magical, shiny object for total. One tool to run your whole business. They’ll shout, This is rarely, if ever true, but it is very appealing. I often use the analogy of a Swiss army knife.

You know, the red, you know, the red pocket knife with 20 little tools built into it. Yes, it can do a lot of things, but often it’s not the right tool for the job. I wouldn’t wanna have to cut down a large tree with a Swiss Army knife. I also wouldn’t wanna have to perform surgery with one either. The opposite end of the spectrum is we wanna avoid a specialized tool for every system and function in our business.

Some people try to assemble dozens and dozens of specialized best of breed tools. For each one that you add to your tech stack, you introduce integration, headaches, additional training, and higher costs. So where does that leave us? Back to the original goal, the smallest number of tools required to implement the systems your business needs to improve the metrics you care about.

The reason we start with systems is those define the actions and metrics we need our tools to support. From there, we can evaluate the large all in one tools to see how much of our true critical needs they meet. We can choose the tools based on facts, on our own specific requirements, instead of just following a guru who usually doesn’t know about anything about tech anyway.

Or worse asking in some random Facebook group which tools they like as if those folks know anything about the tech or your business. In my 25 years of working at the largest technology and consulting companies, having helped organizations from Fortune 500 and government agencies down to sole proprietors make hundreds of millions of dollars of technology decisions, the process for selecting tools is the same.

Write down your specific requirements. Find the tools that claim to meet your requirements. Review each tool against each of your requirements, and then rank the tools by how well they meet your requirements versus the cost and complexity to implement. Do a trial implementation of the tool and validate they actually meet your requirements.

Then implement the chosen tool and in every one to three years, reevaluate. I think you’re starting to see how the first two of the three pillars, systems and tools relate. Defining your business in terms of systems, and then breaking the systems down into actions and SOPs begin to generate the requirements for the tools you need.

I always say you should date your technology, not marry it. If things aren’t working out, you need to be able to easily move. , there are plenty of fish in the sea in the system. App resource I mentioned above that you can download for free. I’ve also included some of the key types of tools required for each of them.

Click the link below this episode to get your copy. Once you have the systems and tools defined, the final pillar is what brings your business to life people a team.

Build a team for your online course business

The single biggest difference I found between those that succeed in rapidly building their expert business versus those that struggle for years or burnout, is how quickly they assemble a team and delegate.

Now, I’ll pause while you yell that you can’t afford a team if you’re just starting out. Okay, I get it. I really. Here’s the thing. There are a lot more options out there these days between the one extreme of trying to do everything solo and the other extreme of having a team of 10, 50, or a hundred people working to build your brand like Gary V and some of the other gurus do.

Now, I’m not talking about praying that you can find an offshore virtual assistant for $5 an hour. That happens to be a master at content and social media, editing, copywriting, sales support, and the 15 different tools, and who speaks perfect English. Clearly, if such a unicorn existed, they would just start their own business.

So what are the other options? Service providers and fractional teams, what does that mean? Well, here’s a couple examples. There are many companies that offer categories of services like video editing or copywriting or design. Some offer all of those services for a given monthly price. You can get work done for you at a cost, far less in hiring, even one full-time employee.

A fractional or shared team is similar. This is the service that my agency provides. Imagine a team of people and services, like I mentioned, but shared between you and five to 10 other online entrepreneurs. In the first few years of your business. You don’t need a full-time designer or a full-time copywriter or full-time anything really, But imagine if you could have 10% of 10 different experts.

You plus a fractional team equals much greater quantity and quality of work. If you take a step back and honestly assess where you are, your competitors and the trends in industry. I think you’ll agree even if you don’t like it, that it’s nearly impossible to succeed by yourself. For the very few that do.

They are nowhere near a life of passive income or sitting on the beach, you know, with a laptop, as the tide carries in millions of dollars. On the flip side, if you invest in a few service providers or a fractional team, you’ll instantly 10 x your progress every single week. Instead of struggling yourself just to get one piece of free content created along with a few social media posts with a team, you would just need to record and then delegate everything else instead of having to figure out your course platform and email and Facebook ads.

Your part-time team members take care of all of that. But how will they know what to do? Well, remember the systems and SOPs we talked about a few minutes ago. This is where the payoff for investing that time comes in. Remember how I said that once you’ve defined your systems, you can also delegate the sop.

Well, that would be the first thing to get your new fractional team working on, wouldn’t it? In fact, one of your criteria in selecting a service provider or fractional team should be that they bring proven SOPs to. That’s exactly what my agency does. I hope at this point you’re seeing how these three elements, systems, tools, and team form the foundation of your business.

The systems break down everything that needs to happen in your business. The tools streamline and automate as much as possible, and your team does all the day to day work freeing you up to focus on strategy, influence building, and product development. You do the CEO level activities and then you delegate the rest for course, membership and coaching types of businesses.

There are nine essential systems. Your business. I’ve created a free resource that shows you what those systems are, as well as the key metrics for those systems. Click the link below and I’ll show you how to get it.