Episode 36

The DNA of an Education Entrepreneur

There’s something in the DNA of an education entrepreneur that drives them to teach for profit, and there’s no greater classroom than the internet. In today’s LMScast Joshua Millage and Christopher Badgett discuss characteristics of educators and entrepreneurs, and how those characteristics can come together to create exceptional online courses.

The simplest definitions are that an educator is all about teaching, and an entrepreneur is all about the money. But the edupreneur is a blend of those categories. This individual has an “irrational passion” for sharing their knowledge and skills, but also wants to realize a monetary return for sharing what they know. When developing a tool for all of these people, the designer needs to understand what they do and how they work in order to create truly functional tools for them.

An educator has a core passion for their subject matter and they simply want to teach what they know and love to as many people they can reach. The subject can be anything, from business to crafting, but passion is what drives the need to share it. The more enthusiastic the teacher is, the better rapport they will establish with their students.

Maturity is also a key factor for online educators. The Google Analytics for our LifterLMS WordPress learning management system software users shows that most course designers are aged 30 to 40. The second highest group is between 40 and 50, while the third highest is between 20 and 30. Maturity is, of course, not necessarily age-based, but is more indicative of experience and immersion with a subject. Designing truly good, solid courses requires a level of commitment, organization, and knowledge that is generally attained with maturity, which usually — but not necessarily — comes with age. If you have what it takes to do the work, certainly don’t let your age stop you.

Entrepreneurship figures in as a desire to sell something new and progressive that will be beneficial to others. In order to do that, the product has to be promoted and distributed. It is the marketing and delivery factor that pure educators may have difficulty with, while teaching may not come naturally to entrepreneurs with a mind for business and sales. But each can learn by doing, and the best approach is to start with small projects and work your way up. Pick something relatively easy and learn how to do it. Master that skill and then advance to the next level.

It also helps to have a community to interact with, and that is not always readily available to edupreneurs who tend to work in isolation. Online communities like the LifterLMS Facebook and Twitter groups and user forums are a valuable resource to eLearning educators and entrepreneurs.

In designing their LifterLMS WordPress learning management system, Joshua and Christopher have drawn upon their individual backgrounds in online education and business, as well as input from their users, to develop an exceptionally versatile and user-friendly platform for designing dynamic, engaging online courses for people who possess the DNA of an education entrepreneur. They have also made it simple for you to monetize your course offerings. Try a demo of LifterLMS here and see for yourself what it can do for you.

Remember that you can post comments and also subscribe to our newsletter at LMScast.com for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Joshua: Hello, everyone. We’re back with another LMScast episode. I am Joshua Millage, and I’m joined with Christopher Badgett. Today we’re talking about the DNA of an education entrepreneur, and really what it means to be an education entrepreneur. Chris, I’m going to let you start it off since you are an education entrepreneur and you have been for quite some time. What are you like, man?

Chris: That’s a good question. I think part if too just circles back to the fact that we created LifterLMS, a WordPress learning management system plugin that makes it possible to create and sell online courses. As an entrepreneur outside of the education entrepreneur space, we really needed to understand our target market of who are we building this tool for, who’s it for. For example, in my past I’ve done a lot of alpine mountaineering. When I select an ice ax for how I’m going to climb the mountain and use that for self-arrest, and whether I’m going to be ice climbing or just straight up steep angle mountaineering I want a very different tool, but it’s helpful to get inside the mind of that climber or inside the mind of that person who’s going to be using the tool. Yes, that’s one of the things that makes it unique for me in terms of being a part of the creating force behind LifterLMS, is the fact that I’ve also created and sold online courses on my own before that.

There’s a couple things that I see that’s common among education entrepreneurs. The first I would just say is it’s just an irrational passion around the subject. That’s number one, plain and simple. To give some examples of that, it doesn’t really matter what niche you’re in, whether it’s highly professional business-oriented, whether that’s accounting or stock trading or auditing. Whatever it is, there’s people in those spaces that have a high degree of irrational passion. It can also go to the artistic realm, something like quilting or painting or drawing, or into the more vocational fields like farming or automotive repair. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, we all know it. If you look inside of all your friends you can very quickly say, “Oh yeah, that person has an irrational passion for this thing.” That’s a key component of the education entrepreneurs: having that passion.

Joshua: I would agree with that. That’s going to create the best learning, too when the person who is teaching it is truly engaged at a whole different level, so I would agree with that.

Chris: Totally.

Joshua: What else is part of the DNA?

Chris: I think a desire to teach is the next one, and it also comes often from a place of maturity. A lot of the people we run across as clients in the WordPress learning management system space, or they want an advanced membership site above and beyond what’s typically possible with a membership site, or some advanced experience for their target audience that includes some education, that maturity often translates into being a little older. I can just say looking at the Google Analytics of our LifterLMS learning management system software that the highest group of people is between 30 and 40. Then the second highest is between 40 and 50. The third highest is between 20 and 30. Not that you have to fall in one of those age brackets, but the education entrepreneur tends to be a little older than the people they’re teaching to. As I would say, it’s more of like a 30+ thing, but not always.

Joshua: Absolutely. What about the people who are under the age of 30? Can they be edupreneurs, or they all automatically internet marketers because they’re younger?

Chris: I don’t think so. There’s a lot of great internet who are older and younger. It’s more an issue of I think the maturity to take the time to curate all that knowledge, have the desire to teach, and also have the organization to chunk it down into curriculum that can be taught. It just takes time.

That being said, I know teachers in traditional education who went straight from high school to college to get a teaching degree, and they were student teaching. When they came into the high school to student teach they didn’t look that much older than you and they were right there with you. It’s not like you have to be that old. I’m just making an observation from the people that are attracted to learning management system software and the audience around that. They just tend to be a little bit older. Doesn’t mean you can’t do it if you’re younger, and in fact, my hat’s off to you. I think everybody should teach something as soon as possible, even in the teens or younger. Because the best way to learn something and to master that craft is to teach it.

Joshua: I would agree with that. I think as soon as you switch into the teacher mindset there’s an accountability and a level of responsibility that you feel being someone who’s going to broker knowledge. It forces you to go deeper. It’s like something in your head just clicks in, and you’re like I need to learn this at a different level, so I agree with that.

I think the other thing about an education entrepreneur is the entrepreneur part of it, which is they want to take that and they want to put it together and they want to sell it, and they want the world to benefit. They want to distribute it in some way. That resonates with me. I think I’m kind of a pure entrepreneur in that sense, a little bit crazy in that. I think any entrepreneur is.

I think what I would say to those people who maybe have the entrepreneurial side but they don’t know want to teach, is to start with something. You started with omelettes for no other reason than you just needed to get in the mode. That’s what I’ve always appreciated about you, Chris, even when you wrote your book and then you created a course around how to write a book in a weekend or a blog post or something like that. It’s these mini experiments. It’s these little tries. It’s these low threshold, low barrier to entry tests that propel us forward. I’m speaking to myself because there’s a couple of things that I want to learn and teach that I need to just push myself through and go.

I would say to those people that don’t know where to start, pick something easy and remember that the journey kind of looks like eating an elephant. It’s massive and it seems daunting, but you just do it one bite at a time.

Chris: Absolutely. Yeah there’s often this dichotomy or this conflict between the educator and the entrepreneur. The educator is fighting the cause for education but isn’t concerned with the money, and the entrepreneur is all about the money and just extracting value in some way. But that’s not really how it works. I always encourage people to transcend and include both of those things. If you happen to lean more to the teacher side, the education side, develop the entrepreneur side. If you happen to be really entrepreneurial, lean more into mastering some specific skill and doing those many experiments.

Something I’ve done is I’ve partnered with educators like in the organic gardening niche and brought my entrepreneurial expertise to their subject matter expertise, and then we’re really powerful by that partnership. There’s all kinds of ways to bridge that gap of entrepreneurship, but at the end of the day serious entrepreneurs are all about creating value and changing the world in a positive way. That’s who we’re speaking to.

Joshua: I love it. Chris, this has been a good one, and I think it will resonate with a lot of people. Hopefully it inspires people to take action. A shameless plug, but if you’re looking for a system to build and sell your courses, we’ve got just that system over at LifterLMS.com. We’re really proud of it. It’s out into the wild now. You can go and check it out. There’s a demo at demo.lifterlms.com. If anything, regardless of whether or not you buy it, we’d love to just get your feedback on it. Feedback is really huge to us. It helps us create a better product for the market, and so it’s really important for us to hear that. Chris, do you have any final thoughts for the crew?

Chris: Yeah, I would just give another shameless plug, and we also have this great product, but we also have this great community that’s surrounds it of other education entrepreneurs. The final thing I would add is that there’s a lot of education entrepreneurs out there that are kind of isolated. It’s one thing in my business experience and marketing experience. I’ve really noticed that these education entrepreneurs often are a little bit more isolated. They don’t really pack up and tribe up like some other niches or subcultures out there. It can feel kind of isolated, and you’re like, wow, I want to teach this stuff and I want to build a business around it, and I’m not really surrounded by other people like that.

We offer that with the community that’s building around LifterLMS in social media and our Facebook community and our forums and so on. If this does resonate with you, it’s just another perk to getting onboard with LifterLMS so that you can rub shoulders with other people that think like you, and we welcome you to that community.

Joshua: Absolutely. Right on. Thank you all for listening and we’ll see you next week.

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2 thoughts on “The DNA of an Education Entrepreneur”

  1. Nice episode today guys. I think that you are right that some educators may not necessarily be too concerned with the entrepreneurial side of selling or distributing online courses, and this is where the big value comes in those people engaging with experts who can help design their courses to be engaging enough for the target market to help traction, especially working with people who know WordPress and can help tailor their platform to deliver the exact kind of learning experience that they are looking to build.

    1. Well said Chris! Eventually we as education entrepreneurs figure out that we don’t have to do it alone.

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