Greetings Folks! Is this something you can relate to? You’ve started a business and you’re excited about the prospects for the future. You’re consuming every bit of information that you can about marketing and growing your business and you’re coming across lots of good, actionable, FREE information. You’ve signed up for free guides from many of your favorite gurus and as a result you receive a lot of email newsletters from said gurus in your inbox. These newsletters provide another source of free information that provide useful tools and tips that you can implement in your business in some form or fashion. All of this free information is great but it’s a lot and you notice that you are starting to get overwhelmed. In addition because you took the leap of faith and quit your “good government job” you are now in a situation where you have to start making money and making money fast because your financial cushion is being used up faster than you anticipated.
Scrolling through your email, you come across an email from one of your favorite gurus. The tagline is catchy and as a spirit led and purpose driven entrepreneur- it speaks directly to your soul. Once you open the email you are treated to paragraphs of resonant writing speaking to your heart telling tales of business woe and using phrases like “ I knew I had a greater gift to share with the world”, “someone is dying to hear what you have to say” and “your abundance is out there waiting for you”. Next comes the line about “that’s why I created X program- so I can save you from the mistakes that I made and teach you how to do X with ease). All of this is sounding so good to you. It’s exactly what you need to take your business and your life to the next level.
But then you see the price for said program and you cringe. You know you need the help but how can you afford $1, 2, 3,000+ for this magical online program when you are trying to figure out how to pay your rent? You keep reading and come across a phrase about the “need to invest in yourself and your calling”. Another sentence about “aren’t you tired of struggling and isn’t time to live the life you were meant to live?” And another paragraph sharing a personal story of how guru X had $5.00 in their bank account but they took that leap of faith to invest in themselves and they are happy that they did because within 30 (or 60 or 90 days)- they were able to double, triple, quadruple their investment and they have never looked back. The email may end with a call to action to “invest in yourself no matter what it takes- because you are worth it”. And if you are in the space of being tired, overwhelmed and frustrated you just might click that big “Buy” button and start the journey to your businesses’ salvation.
The scenario that I write about above is a dramatization of what tends to happen in the marketing of many online programs. This is all well and good but when it comes to you as a consumer, it’s important to know what you are buying. Many people fall in love with the big promises made by the marketing of the program only to walk away disappointed and separated from their money. Even if you do try to do your due diligence, with the use of online marketing tactics, it’s easy for an expert to flood the web with affiliate testimonials swearing to the awesomeness of a program or product, thus making it much harder to find unbiased reviews.
While I know many people have had great experiences with online programs and the like, I’ve also heard one too many stories from clients and colleagues who have had bad experiences with online programs for a variety of reasons-some personal and some having to do with the program itself. Based on my own personal experiences and having to learn my lessons the hard way, here are some questions that you can ask yourself to help you determine if that online class or program you are eyeing is a good investment for you and/or your business.
- Do I understand my own learning style? Even though a lot of content and courses are being delivered online- online learning may not be the best match for you. Know yourself! Do you do better in a classroom setting or are you a good independent learner? Do you like face-to-face interaction or are you ok with being tied to your computer? This makes a huge difference in your learning experience and your overall satisfaction with the program.
- Is this expert a strong teacher? I’ve been to many a program where the content was great but the person teaching the content was not. Delivery and facilitation skills along with a basic understanding of adult learning principles are a must when you are trying to learn something online. This is hard to determine but usually if you can listen in on a webinar or go see them speak in person, this will answer your question. Also take advantage of any opportunities to ask questions about teaching style, teaching ethos etc.
- Is this expert qualified to teach the content? Pretty straight forward. Verify the credentials.
- Is the content good? This will be hard to tell and this is why it’s good to try and find unbiased reviews from people who have nothing to financially gain from the success of the program. My rule of thumb is that if the expert is a good teacher, then their content will be pretty good as well.
- How many people will be in the class or program? Do you want small and intimate or are you ok with being a part of a crowd? Do you want one on one time or are you ok with scrolling through a Facebook Group or message board? If you prefer a more intimate experience it may be in your best interest to instead, invest in a solid business coach who is local to you.
- How easy is it to find a variety of program reviews? Be skeptical if all you are finding are overly glowing reviews of a program. This is not to say that the reviewers are lying or telling tales, but be mindful of who is giving that review and make sure they are not affiliated with the program some how. My personal rule of thumb is that people running solid programs will be honest and forthcoming about all feedback received. If there is negative feedback, they will be eager to share how they have addressed that feedback.
- Am I in a desperate financial situation looking for a “fast, quick, easy” miracle solution? If so, this is not the time to spend money looking for a quick fix. Instead, figure out how to stabilize your income & reach out for some FREE support from your local small business development center (SBDC), or Women’s Business Center (WBC). Find One In Your Community.
- Am I secretly looking for someone to build my confidence and self esteem and save me and/my business? If the answer is yes, save your money because this is not the place where you need to be investing your time and resources right now. Visit your local SBDC and if you are not in therapy, consider it.
- How clear am I about what I really need help with? Gain some clarity before you spend your money OR make sure that whomever you are working with is someone who specializes in helping others gain clarity in their lives/businesses.
- Am I currently trying to figure out what business to start? Save your money & go and get free help from your local SBDC or WBC. (SEE #7).
- Can I really afford this right now? Tell yourself the truth. Only you know your financial situation. My personal rule of thumb is that if I cannot afford to lose the money, then I don’t need to be spending it at this point in time.
- Am I ready to do the work? The program will only be useful if you implement what you are learning and hold yourself accountable for this. If you are not a self-motivated person- you may do better in a situation with a private coach or mentor. Or- if you are not interested in doing the work yourself- it might be in your best interest to hire someone to do the work for you and keep it moving.
This blog post was lengthy but I hope it gave you something to think about. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Facebook or Twitter. Spend Wisely!