Be great, instead of big

A couple nights ago I stumbled upon an IndieHackers interview with my friend Paul Jarvis. If you don’t know Paul, he’s been crushing the online business game for years. But he also has a very unconventional perspective on business:

He doesn’t want to grow.

Paul’s goal is to “[...]continue to be profitable and not grow.” In other words, he wants to build a small, profitable business where he does the majority of the work.

One commenter captured it perfectly:

Be great, instead of big.


(Sidebar: Paul's been on The Zen Courses Show twice. Check out my interview with him here and here.)

So how can we get better, instead of bigger?

If you’re like me, you’re constantly bombarded with images of how to be an entrepreneur (not to mention how to live). Most of those images tell us that we are not enough: we need to do more, be bigger, scale faster, blah, blah, blah.

I call bullshit.

There’s power in being small.

There’s beauty in taking the long road.

There’s satisfaction in slowing down once in a while.

What does this have to do with online courses?

For one, online courses allow you the flexibility to grow your business the way you want. In fact, courses are the cornerstone of Paul’s business model.

But there’s another takeaway that’s often overlooked: community comes before courses.

Before Paul sold a single course he sold services and built his email list.

I see this model over and over...

My most successful clients spend time building a community/ audience--and serving that community--before they launch a bunch of products. (In fact, they spend a lot of time listening to their audience’s needs so they know what to build.)

"But Janelle, building a community takes time!"

True. So get started and don't worry about perfection.

You can begin by building an engaged email list (like Paul). Or a Facebook group. Or a Slack channel. Or a forum.

You get the idea.

The format doesn't matter as much as taking action does.

Take a step back and do the thing that doesn’t scale so you can learn more about your potential customers, build an audience, and set yourself up to build a great business.

Speaking of community

I'm taking my own advice & trying something new:

My new Facebook group, Online Course Central, is officially live today!

The goal of the group is to connect with you, answer your questions, and share valuable online course resources.

Click here to join the group!

(I’ve never created a free Facebook group before--this should be fun!)


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