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How to navigate online courses to improve your business

In our career, we often find ourselves investing in online courses to improve our business. It becomes an important part of our education. How can one navigate the maze of online learning?

I’ve done it before and I am sure you have as well. It happens quite regularly with new business owners. Before I get to the thing we all do, first I want to tell a story.

Copywriter Ben Settle often tells his students they should read the best marketing books at least 10 times. What?

He explains how to execute this impossible task in this blog post,

BEN: You just have to think outside the box a little.

For example:

Let’s say you bought a copywriting course that is made up of audio CD’s.

But you don’t have the time and/or the patience to sit there and listen to them.

What you do is simple:

You go for a one hour walk each day and… you listen to those CD’s during your walk.

There’s an extra “power hour” right there.

If you have a dog, this is a no-brainer.

If you live near a dog shelter (where they often encourage volunteers to walk dogs who have been cooped up all day) then you can turn this into a “double whammy” good thing.

The problem isn’t the lack of information, it is the lack of execution. We often shimmy from course to course and book to book trying to find the magic answer to our business problems.

We live in an amazing time right now. We have the ability to learn anything we need to use online learning.

We have access to some of the best information on how to be a better business person in the form of courses, books, blog posts, and seminars/webinars.

If we aren’t’ careful, we will suffer from shiny object syndrome. I know I have.

via GIPHY

I have paid for courses I haven’t finished. Life gets in the way I guess.

Last year alone I spend money on a fantastic course but was unable to finish. If I went back and finished everything I started, I may never do client work.

How about you?

What course have you not finished?

Am I suggesting you should not enroll in courses? No, absolutely not.

So, if we aren’t careful, we will spend money, maybe sometime, and not learn anything. Maybe we would do better to master what we learn before moving to something else.

Srinivas Rao tells a story in this Medium article,

Several years ago I was enrolled in a neurolinguistic programming course. The creator of the course said something that has had a profound impact on how I consume information.

“Most people think they’re going to listen to something one time and change. But the problem is that the subconscious mind doesn’t work that way. There are so many things competing for the attention of your subconscious mind. It’s only when you listen to something over and over that it manages to cut through the noise and your subconscious realizes “this is important.”

If reading a book several times is this important, how about taking the most important books, courses, and seminars and reading and rereading it multiple times to build our own selves as a business person?

Online courses
Online courses

You can’t implement if you don’t finish

The likelihood of finishing and the course making a difference is actually pretty low. Declan Wilson explains,

Most data scientists agree: the percentage of people who complete an online course is in the single digits, some suggest it’s as low as 4%.

Before you invest in a course or other resources, remember that you can’t implement if you don’t finish. This has an effect on both the course creator as well as the one taking the course.

The result, of course, is a failure to make a change. As Wilson ads,

There’s a massive disconnect between people who want to change their lives and who actually change their lives.

Implementation causes changes in our lives and our business. Therefore, before you get ready to dive in, consider the cost. Community makes a big difference because they can spur you on to completion.

Set aside time and energy

One of the reasons I wasn’t able to finish was health reasons. I was running on half a tank. I took a chance and I wasn’t able to complete. Having lifetime access means I can go back and finish the course.

Many course creators make space for community. Take advantage. Wilson wrote about his own course,

My theory was simple, if a group of people came together to accomplish similar goals, their chances of achieving said goals increases.With the ability to share knowledge and resources, build group-momentum, and hold each other accountable, community becomes the driver of actual change.

Set aside time, block it out if you have to, to participate and go through the lessons. Take notes of things that stand out. Create notebooks in your Evernote or Google Drive, whatever works for you. Add worksheets and resource material to dedicated folders.

Energy is more important when you are in an online course because you have to self-motivate to complete assignments. Make sure you are as healthy as you can be during this time.

Wrapping it up

So, does this mean we should go through the course we paid for at least ten times? Not necessarily. I will say this, however, we need to take advantage of any community the course builds, set aside the time and energy, and follow through with completing the course.

Sure, life is going to get in the way. This is why going through a course with someone is the best policy, unless, that is, you only learn best as a loner.

Courses, books, webinars and other resources are paramount to learning where we have information gaps in our business, but they can also fail to create change if we aren’t able to follow through.

I am interested to know about your experiences with courses, especially ones such as WP Elevation. Drop a note in the comments below.

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Todd Jones
Along with being the resident writer for MainWP and content hacker at Copyflight, I specialize in writing about startups, entrepreneurs, social media, WordPress and inbound marketing topics.
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