I can’t believe how fast Summer came and went! Although Summer Business School may have failed in some areas, and did not turn out the way I expected, this micro venture was a success! So today’s blog is a wrap up of the lessons I learned along the way.
First up: the idea for Summer Business School came to my mind on May 2, 2011. In hindsight, starting a summer program a month before was not the best choice in timing (!). But I was excited, and wanted to start an online program for entrepreneurs immediately. I knew I had the curriculum, plus my entrepreneurial connections. Surely that would be enough to get in the game, right?!
Next, my BIG IDEA was to promote the Summer Business School online course via strategies I learned from Jeff Walker, the product launch guru. I had watched tons of those automated product launches by him and others, and knew FOR SURE that I could easily sell out all of the available slots. I purchased a software program that would enable a WordPress website to release videos during the pre-launch period, and then release my sales video during the official launch period. YES!
Of course, things didn’t pan out as I had originally imagined… For one thing, the software I purchased only had one tutorial video, so if I had a problem that wasn’t covered in the video, I was out of luck. The other thing was that the software didn’t have a service department. So if I had a problem, I had to send an email, and wait to hear back from someone with a solution. And of course, when I did hear back, I was given a solution to a problem that I wasn’t even having, so I ended up waiting for another day or so. Long story short, this software was no good to me, so I submitted a refund request – which I’m still waiting for!
One of the first things I did right was to ask for help. I learned that Jaison, an internet marketing friend who had used OptimizePress, another product launch software system for WordPress. For the same price as the other software I had purchased, OptimizePress offered tons of tutorial videos, many sales letter templates, a forum of other users, PLUS a 24 hour service desk. OMG, I was in heaven! And since my friend had already used the software in a launch of his own, I now had help via phone and email. So after installing OptimizePress on http://SummerBusinessSchool.com, I promptly asked him to be my Mastermind Partner.
After the software issue was handled, I then I had to learn how to make Camtasia screencast videos out of PowerPoint slides. This was another cool thing I had seen done before, and I couldn’t wait to make one of my own. Truthfully, I made a few different videos before I was satisfied. Around this time, Andy Jenkins started a product launch for his Video Boss course, which made my original ideas seem boring. So I actually made a few videos that never saw the light of day. But finally, I decided on a Fairy Tale story theme, which also offered a video contest for a consultation package, and was happy with my video.
On the plus side, since social media is one of my strengths, I was able to create and curate a content campaign on my Summer Business School Facebook and Twitter accounts. Using Hootsuite, I pre-programmed tons of tweets and Facebook status messages which enabled me to get Followers and Likes in a short period of time. I interacted with lots of folks on social media, and strengthened relationships with folks I met in real life. I even met a young social media freelancer who shared new social media tools with me. In turn, I shared business lessons with her, and became her mentor.
About now is when I should mention the time factor. The whole point of having a product launch sequence is that there is a pre-launch marketing period of about 3 weeks when website visitors get to enjoy your video series, and then one week or so of the actual launch. Because I was trying to make the site and videos happen all by myself in my hermit hole, I used up about 5 weeks suffering from trial and error.
At that point, I had to pivot since the summer was about half way over. I assisted Jaison when he gave a workshop at the co-working space where he’s a member, and realized that I could give in-person workshops too. I started calling various co-working spaces, and asked how to submit workshop proposals. When I got to the sixth venue on my list, Hive at 55, their manager just asked “What dates do you want?” which caught me off guard, but I quickly gave him the dates I wanted. During the course of the call, I was also told that they gave discounts to classes offered on Skillshare.com, so I set that up right away, and booked my first Summer Business School workshop!
The fun thing about doing in-person workshops is that it encouraged me to do a lot of in-person marketing. My video contest winner was a massage therapist, who invited me to her BNI Networking Meeting, where I announced my workshop (and got a few students). I met another woman who was there as a guest from a different BNI chapter, and was invited to her meeting as well. This woman ended up becoming my mentor. In addition to my contest winner, I took on a couple of new entrepreneurial clients. These one-on-one consultations taught me about the kind of work I like – and don’t like – to do, which was very helpful.
Over the course of the summer, I gave a series of workshops and met a lot of people who enjoyed my workshops, told their friends, and referred me to other opportunities. This was great feedback that let me know that I was on to something.
Another cool thing that happened was that all of my online marketing brought Summer Business School to Page 1 of Google for the keyword phrase, “Summer Business School”. When I realized that I was sharing Page 1 with Harvard, University of Chicago, Stanford, and the Haas School of Business, I knew that I had gotten at least some of the online marketing equation right.
And last, but definitely not least, I hired a consultant from NYC Biz Solutions to help me restructure my business. After looking at all of my offerings, he suggested that I return to (and focus on) my “bread and butter” target market: musicians. As my entrepreneurial journey started with my path to becoming a self-sustaining musician, it’s only fitting that I take all of my entrepreneurial lessons and package them for the musicians who want them. So this time around, I’m ready. Stay tuned!
So it’s been a circular journey, but quite satisfying. Because of Summer Business School, my musician’s blog at http://RockStarLifeLessons.com (and its readers) will benefit from the business aspects that I’ll be bringing to it.