Have you ever taken an online business course?
In the past couple years I’ve spent thousands of dollars on online business courses, all with the hope of giving myself an “edge”, or uncovering new and powerful methods for building innovative (or at least profitable) businesses.
The allure of secret knowledge, uncommon methods, and silver bullet solutions has often convinced me to pull out my credit card and buy some course from some random person claiming to have “figured it out.”
After going through multiple online courses that claimed they had THE ONE single best process, method, or system for creating a successful business, I’ve realized something…
It’s all bullshit.
Yep, that “world class” master-class featuring insider secrets that you paid two thousand bucks for?
That “limited time” webinar with a guru’s uncommon tricks that you dropped five hundo on?
Stinky brown male cow excrement.
That “regular guy” who made an insane amount of money doing “this one thing” course you paid for after seeing the ad on Facebook?
How do I know this is all BS?
Mainly because I’ve too-often been the sucker eating up all this hyperbolic propaganda…
But also, because I personally know some of the entrepreneurs and “gurus” behind these courses and just recently I was offered a job to help CREATE an online business course (and in the process, was shown the methods used to create these courses).
In this article, I’m going to pull back the curtain and reveal the truth about online business courses and their workshop, webinar, and bootcamp counterparts.
My sincere hope is that by reading this, you’ll think twice before spending your hard earned cash the next time you see a too-good-to-be-true offer on Facebook or Instagram.
But before I do any more business course bashing, let me give you some quick context.
Why Do We Love Online Business Courses?
Online business courses are everywhere.
Your Facebook newsfeed, on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn…
Why are so many people signing up for these things?
In a nutshell…
- Entrepreneurship is HARD
- Everyone wants more results for less work
- It’s easier to be told what to do than to figure it out yourself
Entrepreneurship involves many layers of complexity. You have to consider your values and priorities, determine specific goals, and figure out what steps to take and in what order.
And of course, the SECOND you search for help throughout this process, you get bombarded with advertisements, free downloads, and inbox spam all carefully designed to make you believe THEY have the thing you need to succeed… you just have to pay for it.
And while sure, there’s a price tag for these things – they’re still appealing because they make us feel good.
They give us tangible, specific steps.
They lay out a process to follow.
They give us assurance that we’ll get the results we want if we just do what they say.
Where else in life do you get that sort of guarantee???
Pay us $X –> learn secret knowledge –> use knowledge to create a successful business (and there’s a money back guarantee in case you decide the course isn’t for you.)
When it’s put that way, why WOULDN’T you sign up?
It’s pretty much guaranteed success right?
No. Sorry friend, it’s not.
The Dirty Little Secret About Online Business Courses
Here’s the truth.
The REAL value that online business courses provide usually has nothing to do with KNOWLEDGE and has everything to do with STRUCTURE.
Let me explain using some quick analogies.
If I asked you, “How can I lose weight?”
…do you think you could tell me some helpful tips?
- Fewer carbs
- More veggies
Pretty basic stuff right?
Most people know this, yet more than 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. are obese.
Or consider paying off debt.
“How does paying off my debt work?”
Fundamentally, it’s simple:
- Create a budget
- Spend less than you make
- Pay bills on time
Yet, 8 out of 10 Americans have debt, and many of us are really struggling to get out of it.
Why? Why are people struggling with this when the steps are commonly known and freely available to read about online?
When it comes to most challenges in life, we often know what we need to do, we just have trouble doing it.
And when I say we “know” what we need to do, I mean we have a general understanding of the topic, I’m not claiming we’re all fitness or debt experts. Most of us know the basics and could see results if we followed through, it’s the implementation of this knowledge that is difficult.
And if there’s something you TRULY don’t know, go search online.
When it comes to knowledge, the web is your oyster.
There’s wikipedia, blogs, how-to guides, ebooks, etc.
I’m willing to bet money that you’re not lacking for knowledge.
All those claims of secret knowledge, insider tips, and uncommon methods… 99% of that is available on the web for free. (Hence, why I call bullshit.)
But what about the doing?
Well, that’s where classes, courses, and workshops actually add value.
Yes… I’m saying that online business courses can be valuable.
When Online Business Courses Are Worth the Money
And you thought this was just a hate piece…
Let me be clear.
I firmly believe that MOST of the online business course advertisements and sales pitches are full of donkey poo, but that doesn’t mean that these courses are worthless.
You may know most of the basics, you may have tactics, methods, and strategies available for you to read about online for free…
…but when was the last time you actually put them into practice?
You might read about Neil Patel’s latest content marketing strategy… but have you used it?
You may have read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and thought, yeah this makes sense… but are you tracking cohort metrics and achieving validated learning?
You might have even read Tim Ferriss’s latest book Tools of Titans and decided to try a few things… but are you making tangible progress towards creating a business?
In all likelihood, you’ve consumed countless articles, downloaded dozens of free guides and blueprints, and despite this – you still haven’t created a successful business.
And that’s why online business courses have their place.
You may have the knowledge, but you aren’t implementing it.
So what do you do?
You get a framework. You adopt a methodology for moving forward.
Whether it’s a class, a course, a program or a workshop… the value of these educational vehicles lies within the support and structure they provide.
When you sign up for a class, suddenly the ambiguity and shades of grey disappear.
Courses act as a filter.
They simplify, reduce your options, and enable you to spend more time doing, and less time thinking.
This is a good thing, and a solid business course will help you make progress.
But you have to go into it with eyes wide open.
In the hyper competitive space of online business courses, course providers are pressured to make increasingly hyperbolic claims.
And since you’re a human being with a primitive monkey brain that wants to get more for less, you have a weakness for “one weird trick” ads that seem too good to be true (and are).
Don’t feel bad.
I’ve fallen prey to false claims and scammy courses… it happens.
But the next time you see an ad for some new online business course, remember this article and think about it before you pull the trigger.
Do you TRULY need information?
If so, seek out customers of the product and try to figure out if they’ve learned things you TRULY need to learn. There’s a good chance whatever information you think you need is available for free on the web.
BUT, if what you seek is a FRAMEWORK?
Now this could actually be a good fit.
You’ll get support, structure, steps to follow… you can focus on DOING more instead of endlessly reading, listening, and watching things that talk about building a business.
The course will act like a personal trainer, or a coach. It’ll help you with the doing.
Ok. I think I’ve made my point.
DON’T buy courses to uncover hidden secrets. They’re not secret, they’re not hidden.
DO buy courses (maybe just one or two) to find a framework that pushes you into action.
Doing things will get you somewhere.
Learning new tactics won’t.