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.
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 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