Online Small Business Classes Are Too Easy

Recently I’ve been getting a lot of enquiries about the Business of Baking on Tour, specifically people asking me if it is available as an entirely online course. Most are asking because they don’t live in the cities we’ll be in, or they feel they don’t have the time or money to attend.

It’s not, nor will it ever be, an entirely online course. You’ve got to physically show up for 2 days, and then there is a 10 week online follow up.

Why? Because if we did it purely as an online course, that would be far TOO EASY.

It isn’t just too easy for you, it’s also too easy for me.
Let me explain.

Being in small business is damn hard work. It’s way more hours, far more stress and a much bigger commitment required than you would ever get from just working a “normal” job for someone else.  It’s true that the rewards (financial and personal) are often worth it, but nothing changes the fact that it’s a whole lot of hard work, especially at the beginning.

We now live in a time where good quality information is free, where get-rich-quick schemes abound, where learning a new skill can be done with nothing more than an Internet connection and some free time. I can’t tell you how often people ask me to provide them with a blueprint or simple answer for how to be successful in the baking industry. It’s not an unreasonable question because people living in the first world now think that they are not only entitled to that information, but it should be either free or cheap and easy to get.

Here’s the thing.

Real life is NOTHING like that. Nothing.  It’s very messy. You’ve got to actually live through things, experience things, feel things. There is no e-book you can download for living a life. Small businesses are as much about the people running them as they are about the business itself. So if our lives are varied and messy and complicated – what e-book could I possibly write which would give you the exact right answers for what to do to be successful?

REAL LIFE DOES NOT HAPPEN ONLINE.

I’ll bet a whole lot of you have bought online classes (business related or not) or a yearly subscription to an online school…and went all gung-ho on it for a few weeks or months and then abandoned it. Why? Not because it wasn’t good value, good information or of interest to you, but because it was TOO EASY to choose to watch TV instead, or fall asleep mid-video, or fast forward through the boring bits, or not bother to do the homework. There is no motivation, no accountability, no reason to keep on with actually doing the hard parts.  Online courses are very easy to do, and very easy to STOP doing.

That too is why BoB on Tour isn’t online – because when learning online it’s too easy for you to give up, to pretend it doesn’t really matter, to blame your life for getting in the way, to sit in your pyjamas watching the talking heads but not actually absorb any of what you’re learning. For online courses (of any kind) to work, you’ve got to have an enormous amount of self discipline. ENORMOUS. Most of you are running your business alongside doing something else – being a parent, working a ‘day’ job, etc. Are you really going to tell me that you can find the time in your already crowded life to have that kind of self discipline? I certainly don’t (I’m too busy fast forwarding through YouTube videos and eating Oreos.)

As for me and Sharon, the Tour isn’t an online course because it would be too easy for us as well.  Frankly, we could have sat down, punched out a hell of a lot of content, packaged it up in a neat little series of pdf’s, priced them fairly low and then sold the shit out of them. It would be accessible globally, it would make us a bunch of money, and it’s a matter of creating that content only once and using technology to send it out over and over and over. Lots of people already do this. It makes good business sense if all you want is to sell a lot of units. It’s really not that hard to do…and therein lies the problem.

We set about doing this course in order to be many things: Mentors. Thought leaders. Industry influencers. Inspirational.  Motivational. Generous with our knowledge. Honest. The catch was, we wanted to be mentors to the people who truly take the time (and money and effort) to invest in their businesses – because investment is what it takes in order to be successful. In order to be those people for you, WE TOO had to pick the hard route. The route requiring time, money, effort and investment.

Remember for a moment that Sharon and I both run full time cake businesses in addition to whatever work we do for the Tour.   Every time we teach a Tour class, it’s hours of material preparation, logistics, and organising – and that’s before we’ve sold a single spot. We both then have to take time away from our businesses, our families, and our customers in order to actually BE physically at the class. Then when we get back, it’s more investment: in adjusting the content to the feedback we got, planning the next class and of course doing what we said we would do – being mentors to the people we teach. We answer emails. We make phone calls. We’ll be moderating the Facebook group, holding webinars, and attending the grand openings of the businesses we helped encourage…and trying ever more to make this class the best value, most honest class that is currently available out there.

We could have made it an online class and that would have been really, really easy…but it wouldn’t reflect our values at all.  It would not achieve what we wanted it to achieve. We chose to do it the hard way because we believe that small business is more about investing time than it is about spending time – so we practice what we preach and we invest.

I strongly believe in investing in my business, my blog, and myself. I also believe that the people who lead the most happy, fulfilling lives are those that choose to invest in each other. For me personally, going on Tour fulfills all of those.

We could have made the entire thing an online class.
We didn’t.
That would be far too easy.

Too easy… wouldn’t have me walking out of that very first Tour class, looking at Sharon and saying, “My god. We’re really doing this, aren’t we? We’re actually changing people’s lives.”

If for nothing else than the feeling I had in that very moment, I still wouldn’t choose the easy option.

Easy just isn’t worth it.

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