Let’s get right to it! I’ve taken two full business courses (both on scholarship) and in the last five years I’ve enrolled in loads of seminars and webinars and workshops.
I’ve ran my fair share of courses, classes, workshops and webinars, too!
Most small businesses fail – about sixty-five to seventy percent. I have a little theory that artpreneurships fail at an even higher rate – mostly because we’re so damn picky, (some of us) demand full artistic freedom, and we typically work in an exploited field – either the Arts or what’s sometimes called “unskilled” labor (as a garment-maker I work in one of the most exploitive industries on the planet)! By the way, generally these failure rates hold true regardless of our specific era or market trends.
So most small businesses fail, and at the same time small business owners (beginners and those who’ve been puttering around a while) really think they don’t need help. It’s absolutely bizarre to me. As I’ve said many times: we spent hours and hours honing our craft. We went to school or spent grueling days self-teaching, or queued up loads of YouTube or hung out in forums and FB groups or sought tutorials and pro advice. We searched high and low to educate or self-educate how to do our thing. But we think we don’t need any help at all to run a whole-ass business, which is an entirely different skillset than our craft?
I’ve given up trying to convince people on this point, because I’m kind of exhausted watching so many entrepreneurs peter out and fail, complaining the whole time I might add. It’s also not my style to try to talk people into something. Too much work!
Here’s what I did to help, though: I started this blog and my IG and yes – and I put together the best artpreneur course I could – the WHOLE ENCHILADA. The WHOLE ENCHILADA is a very intimate and limited-seating group that runs eleven weeks, with plenty of one-on-one time with myself and the other enrollees. It’s fantastic and I’m super proud of it and my students all loved it and I’m still in touch with them today!
But this post isn’t to convince you to take my course, although I’ll talk a little about it here and there. (Signups in June and September, if you’re interested make sure you’re on my email list – I’ll put a link at the bottom of this post).
This post is a brief run-down of pros and cons of taking any business course.
Finding a course won’t be a problem. You’re spoiled for choice. There are so many programs out there: high-cost, low-cost, and no-cost courses. Glancing courses and in-depth dives. You’ll need to do your homework about any course you’re considering (my advice? Read reviews!) – but I think there are some general Pros and Cons – plus Do’s and Don’ts – that I can help you with in these next posts!
PROS OF TAKING A BUSINESS COURSE:
You’ll save money. The cost of ignorance, of being wishy-washy, of spending hours (months, or years!) daydreaming or half-assing, of avoiding a cash forecast and proper pricing – I can’t overstate this. A business course will save you hours of these agonies and inefficiencies. A business course may also help you decide to press the pause button once you see what all is involved! And if the only thing a business course helped you do was to make a firm decision either way, this will save you loads of money (not to mention agony). Ask me how I know this! I half-assed for years.
You might even earn money! One of my students from my last cohort finally buckled down and did the cash forecast homework – and discovered that when she really factored in her time, materials, hours of social media/website uploads, time shopping and sorting and cleaning and interfacing with clients – that she was only making a couple bucks an hour. She was dismayed but obviously, I knew that was a good thing. Because as hard as the truth can be, it’s important to get in conscious contact with the truth. You can’t really make money unless you can measure it – and measure it honestly. A good course will really hold your hand through that. You don’t have choices or options – unless you actually inventory reality!
You’ll probably set aside the time you should – time you’ve avoided allocating until now. Don’t feel bad for putting off some things. We all do it! But the truth is for long-term success you really do need a license, and you should put together a marketing plan, and you will benefit immensely if you tighten up your customer avatar. You’ve avoided these things up until now because they are intimidating, or you think they’re boring, or maybe you don’t even know you need them. Taking a course will definitely provide you a push to get to what you’ve been avoiding or ignoring. And if the course is a good one, it will assign homework. Homework is where the real magic happens, and a course without rigorous homework isn’t much of a course.
You’ll be surprised how much you learn. There really are all kinds of things you don’t know including things you don’t know that you don’t know! Most courses will at least touch on these items, and get you started on investigating these processes. Courses won’t and can’t do the work for you (that’s for something like a mentorship contract, and those are a lot more expensive – as they should be!) but even starting the conversation is valuable.
You’ll have a way, way more realistic idea of the work entailed. For every fifty new entrepreneurs I’ve spoken with, about one of them really understood how much work it is to create a living-wage entrepreneurship. If you take a course, you’ll begin to grasp just what you’re in for. I think that’s a good thing – even if it may feel a bit daunting!
You’ll gain confidence. Listen – I’ve helped a lot of people and I have to be honest, none of them had bad ideas. You may be surprised to hear this but the truth is usually by the time someone goes through the trouble of reading my emails or signing up through a form or putting money down for a session, they’ve honestly got some commitment, panache, and even staying power behind their idea!
But even if you aren’t particularly prepared, your commitment to a course is going to yield results. If you stick with the classes and do your homework – you’re going to feel more confident every week. Sometimes I think the confidence I imbue, is the most valuable thing about my role as a mentor and instructor. Really you can’t buy that kind of thing!
OK so those, in summation, are the major good points on taking a course! Now here are some potential pitfalls.
CONS OF TAKING A BUSINESS COURSE:
You’ll have to admit you might fail. There’s this weird thing where before we put our ass on the line, we’re all successes. We’re successes in theory. We can get very grandiose about our skills or our assured future and celebrityhood! Well when you enroll in a course, the rubber meets the road. Do we really have what it takes? After all we can’t really Fail, unless we first Try. For many people, a business course is their first bit of actual Try. Your Ego is at stake – and that kind of work, can sting!
Mentors/teachers may misunderstand you – or even put you down. They may even discriminate against you. I wish this weren’t the case – but it is.
Most people who enroll in a course are a little touchy, maybe a little defensive. Many would-be entrepreneurs are former straight-A kids who are addicted to praise. Astonishingly (to me at least) business instructors and mentors don’t always honor those sensitivities and personality aspects. They really will come trampling all over this fresh new sprout. Some business instructors and mentors are clumsy, or cruel, or will confidently tell you something won’t work – when they really just lack imagination (this is especially true for mentors when they interface with high Creatives)!
You probably know what I’m going to say, right? If someone acts like that, see if you can straighten them out. If you can’t: move on, and find a new mentor or course. Put your self-care first: relentlessly.
Networking realities are a little grim. Most business courses and groups claim you’ll get a great network by enrolling in their course. I want to talk about this a bit more but first I need to stress something:
There is only one time I’ve seen a meaningful and intimate network grow out of a business course, and that’s my own! For reference, I call my WHOLE ENCHILADA enrollees, my Li’l Peppers. After they graduate, they become Ghost Peppers. We (the Ghost Peppers) still get together! We meet every Saturday – and it’s some of the most meaningful hours of my week! This is a group with no cost to admission, no axe to grind – borne entirely of deep connections and the desire to meaningfully support one another! Note I said meaningfully support. There are so many business networking dinners and meet and greets where people are just scanning the room looking for who they can leverage. Honestly? It’s pretty gross.
Even when you avoid the kind of tit-for-tat hobnobbing that is so common out there, a lot of supposed “network” opportunities are just lukewarm. I took a business course last year and even though I made a lot of outreach to fellow students – I asked them questions and shared freely of my expertise – the course culture just didn’t foster connection. So today, not one of these fellow students are someone I see (except now and then on Instagram). The course didn’t foster intimate and powerful networking. Most of them don’t – whatever they may promise.
Of course, it’s not a bad thing that a course rarely delivers meaningful network opportunities. I just wish they were more honest about it! They usually promise a community experience that ends up being tepid at best.
Many courses and mentors are unreflectively pro-capitalist. What do I mean by that? Well for instance I went to a certain national business organization’s webinar a while back and the first thing the presenter did was wax enthusiastic about drop-shipping methods via Amazon. Not one mention of Amazon’s problematic ethics and exploitation – just excitement about the profit we can make off the backs of abused workers! Sadly, that is the attitude and those are the willful omissions you’ll see an awful lot from many business mentors.
You can either take an anti-capitalist course (like mine) – or just tough it out and understand that in many business courses and with many mentors you’re going to hear a lot of the kind of shit that rolls downhill in a white supremacist, patriarchal Capitalist framing. It’s just how things are, but it can feel a bit discouraging when that’s what you hear, over and over.
I believe that if you’re willing to put the time in (really investigate HOW much time the course entails), and if you read the reviews and people are promoting the course – it’s probably worth taking one. If you don’t take a course, build a mentoring team for yourself – and remember to give back, as well! I can’t stress those points enough.
Next week I’ll share some Do’s and Don’ts of taking a business course – to help set you up for success!
That’s it for this week! Thank you for reading.