The benefits of horizontal scaling

Last week we touched on developing your personal brand and vertical  scaling. Going up in the world is great, but sustaining a growing  knowledge business as a solopreneur can be extremely demanding, and the  point will come when you physically and mentally can’t grow anymore  without help.

You can only do one training course at a time; or undertake one  keynote, and what about all of the enquiries you have from companies all  over the world, interested in having you impart your knowledge to their  employees?

It’s time to acknowledge that when you go for growth, you need to  take your vision outside of your customary territory. And to do that you  need to bring on a team and resources who can represent your vision.

Bring on the Brand

Growing your personal brand is going to get you noticed: keynote  speaking, writing, and podcasting are all great ways to meet peers who  share a similar vision. Now that your personal brand is reputable and  growing, you should be receiving contacts from potential customers  around the world.

Growth strategy

If your website ranks well in Google, use it to analyze where the  hottest regions for brand expansion are. Where do your enquiries and  visitors come from? Are they predominantly local, or do you have  customer interest from out-of-reach regions?

If they’re just local, then developing a regional expansion strategy  should be your next step. What regions interest you? Where will you find  businesses that want what you teach? And who will adopt your work  training methods?

Licensed trainers

Licensed trainers are the advocates of your knowledge brand. You have  a shared purpose, to improve the skills and productivity of workers  around the world. They can take your business beyond your furthest  reaches; opening up new markets of opportunity.

Trainers or facilitators can come in all shapes and guises. They may  already have a training company, but want to develop their content,  offer new modules, or expand on their current learning methods. They may  be peers who share the same philosophy and have contacts in the right  companies, or enlightened ex-students, followers/fans of your brand.

Think of it as a way of franchising your content. You earn a license  fee and a percentage of each workshop undertaken by the trainer, while  they help grow your brand outwards.

When to develop a licensed training program? When  you have a strong and recognisable knowledge brand, and have developed a  unique perspective on your topic, and created engaging and compelling  content that trainers want to share.

Pros of a Licensed Trainer Program

  • Future passive income
  • International reach
  • Multi-language reach
  • Rapid growth opportunity

Cons of a Licensed Trainer Program

  • Keeping uniformity in the style and format of your content
  • Concept plagiarism
  • Finding an effective and centralised booking and payment system
  • Managing licenses and collecting license fees
  • You don’t directly own the end customer

Building a Profitable Community

Your followers, or fans, can be your biggest campaigners: if you know  how to delight them with unique and engaging content. If you already  have a steady follower-base on social media and a database of past  attendees, the natural progression is to start a community, where you  can share and discuss topics, and promote future workshops and products.

Monetizing your followers comes when your audience wants to go deeper  into the knowledge that you currently share for free. A membership  community or inner circle can be developed over time, with social media  leading to a community launch on your website. This can take the shape  of a forum, or inner circle, plus access to a private Facebook group.

What’s important is that there is a token fee to join. Small enough  to be a no-brainer for your fans to spend. Multiply that token gesture  by 100s or 1000s of fans, and well, you do the math.

Incentivize your inner circle followers with access to early-release  materials, insider information, product and training discounts, and  importantly followers get to hang out with like-minded people and share  ideas. Our friends at Happy Melly are an excellent example of how you can create a community interested  in improving work culture, and monetize the business at the same time.

When to start with a community? When you have a  decent follower-base or database of active users. Try setting up a  Facebook or Twitter community first, before you delve into the depths of  community forum development.

Pros of Creating a Community

  • Your fans are your advocates
  • You give purpose to what you do
  • You get ideas from the community
  • You have a captive audience
  • Ability to grow your database
  • Sell your products to end customer
  • Future passive income

Cons of Creating a Community

  • Monitoring and handling of feedback
  • Keeping content flowing
  • Finding the right system to handle memberships

App & Game Development

Gamifying your knowledge brand gives you access to potential clients  and companies looking for internal training methods. Games and apps can  be distributed at a much lower cost to the customer, although the  upfront development cost to you is much greater.

When to start with games and apps? As soon as you  have a great concept, then you can be thinking about gamifying it. As  development costs are high, you need to be sure that you have a concept  that will be bought into. Think about taking the idea to app developers  and your customer base for feedback before you go ahead.

Pros of App & Game Development

  • Great branding opportunity
  • Distribution volume high
  • Lower cost, so higher take up
  • Companies can use the app for internal training sessions
  • Future passive income
  • Opportunity to integrate with other training solutions

Cons of App & Game Development

  • Development costs and ongoing maintenance and updates
  • Free trialling and therefore longer time to recoup outgoing costs
  • Easily picked up and copied by competitors