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How I realized 'I don't have time' is bullshit

szaboduf

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Hey, this is Patrik, a Hungarian college student currently spending a few months on exchange in France.

Long as I can remember, FREEDOM (in all capital letters) has always been the one thing I wanted in my life. When I was 11, a therapist asked me to draw my family by representing each family member by an animal. I drew a bird to represent me in the picture and the therapist asked me why. I had trouble answering the majority of her questions but I had my answer ready for this one without even thinking about it: because I want FREEDOM!

After starting college (and at the same time, starting to work part-time to cover the expenses of a student's life), it started to dawn on me what I need to do to obtain the freedom I want so badly. I will become an entrepreneur... someday. Maybe after graduation. Maybe some time before that.

Last year, I decided it was time to take action. And I did! I took some action... but not nearly enough before I abandoned. I didn't believe in my business idea (of which now I think it was really not that good and it's a good thing I stopped spending my time and my money to try to make it come true) but instead of looking for another, I just returned to the old mantra of 'someday'.

Then 2 months ago I came to Lille, France for an exchange semester. Suddenly, time was abundant: I take way fewer courses here than in an average semester at my home university in Budapest, Hungary; and I had to quit my part-time job in Budapest before I left and I couldn't find one here. So after a few weeks, I had a new idea and I decided it's now or never. During the following 2 to 3 months, I'm going to have all the free time I need so if I don't do anything now to make my come true, I can't tell myself it's because I don't have time.

Therefore, I advanced TMF by a few spots on my long list of books to read, bought it and read it. Meanwhile, I started to formulate my idea in more and more details and bought a course on Udemy to help me get there. My idea is perfect from a point of view of complexity: it's simple enough to create with the skills and resources that I currently have or that aren't too difficult to obtain; yet it's complicated enough to discourage most people from doing something similar.

I'm going to teach English online to my fellow college students. In Hungary, every college student must pass a language exam to get their degree and for most of them, English is the only option because they've never learned any other language and now they're too lazy to start from scratch. In English, however, they're willing to spend the equivalent of hundreds of dollars on private classes, on books, and they would gladly spend some of that money on a comprehensive online video course if it existed and they knew. I know that because even though I haven't found such a course, there is a number of platforms where these same students happily buy online courses to prepare for exams in other subjects: math, economics, IT, finance etc.

And since a good 50,000 Hungarians start college each year, providing that market with video courses tailored to their needs sounds to me like a good way to the Fastlane and to the FREEDOM I've always craved.
 
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Dunkafelics

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@szaboduf This sound like a pretty decent plan to me, especially if you can incorporate the video platform where you don't have to trade time for money. When are you going to start putting this together?
 

szaboduf

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@Dunkafelics it depends on what you mean by starting.

I've bought a video course on how to make your own video course through Udemy and now I'm about halfway through it (it's detailed stuff, takes quite some time to finish). I've bought a tripod to make the camera stand still and I've ordered the books that are required in my college in English classes to help me suit my course better to the material of the exam. (I didn't have them because I didn't take English classes in college.) In this sense, I've already started - although spending about $30 on these resources is too small of a commitment to guarantee that I'm not going to quit.

My plan for what follows looks like this: next week, I'm going to post a survey on the FB groups of the university's students and wait until I get about 50 responses. I expect a positive general response but I'm not forgoing this survey just to be sure. Probably while I'm still waiting, I'll lay out a plan for the entire course and shoot the first few videos. I don't want to shoot to much of it in advance but I want this sample to already contain some actual value.

Then I'll upload it to a website (come to think of it, I still have to buy the domain and find out how to upload videos to a website while restricting access) and offer it for sale at a drastically discounted price for a limited number of people (maybe 20 or 30) and see if I can sell this many in a month. If I can't, I probably won't be able to sell it at the regular price, either, so I'll abandon the idea. If I can, I'll ask my first customers to provide me with brutally honest feedback, I'll shoot the rest of the videos and upload them, too, and start selling the full course at the full price. If everything goes right, the first full price sales will be made sometime around mid-December - there's going to be one of these language exams in January and what's better time to start revising for it than about a month before the exam?

For the first try, I'm limiting the market to students of my home university (as opposed to all college students in Hungary) and it will take efforts to market it to students elsewhere but I think it's more prudent this way than by trying to fit everyone's needs at once. Also, I'll probably need to create separate courses to target other universities but after all of my courses are finished, they will generate a revenue stream for me without much additional time invested.
 

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Something that worked for me was to just go to forums (or Facebook groups) and help people immediately.

You immediately help people, you immediately start learning what the common problems are, and you immediately start getting known as "The XYZ Guy".

You could also start giving lessons one-on-one or to small groups. Maybe locally, or maybe to people online (found through forums and/or Facebook groups?). I've probably had hundreds of calls in the last few years, and PMs with over 1,500 people.

I've been doing private maths grinds for local kids for the last 3+ years. It was easy to find people to help, and in fact they've ended up finding me now.

I say this so you don't go down video creation or online course creation rabbit-holes.

Check out the AndyTalks progress thread (in my signature), and a thread I created about "How to use forums (and Facebook groups)".

One of the calls I did talks about how I ended up creating a course (the call with Paloma).

Also check out the 700+ PMs thread in my signature.



As to your thread title...

When someone says "they don't have time" they are usually politely saying "it wasn't important enough so I did something else".

This is so they don't hurt your feelings. Just don't use that language on yourself.

Next time you're tempted to say you didn't have time, think "It wasn't important enough and I did XYZ instead".
 
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AfterWind

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@Andy Black Is giving very good advice right here about not starting with course creation. I am also working on becoming an online teacher (although on a different subject) and, due to some circumstances, I am creating online courses and I realized just how difficult it can be to create these courses.

An online course is very difficult to create since you are trying to make anyone who watches that course understand, whereas when giving lessons to a group, you can specialize your teaching methods for just that group of people. If I could, I would start just by helping others in one-on-one online meetings.

Here is a youtube channel that might help you quite a bit.

And, if you need any help with creating courses don't hesitate to PM me.

Welcome to the forum!
 

Andy Black

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@Fox has a thread about creating a course and a Facebook group.
 

szaboduf

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Thank you guys for the feedback.

I prefered to avoid giving lessons for various reasons:
  • it's not fastlane (especially with the $10-15 hourly rates common in Hungary)
  • I could only be giving the lessons through Skype or else I'd have to wait two more months before I can start (as I'm still in France while I want to teach Hungarians)
  • building a customer base from scratch would probably take as much effort for the one-on-one lessons as for the video course.
But I see what you mean and you're probably right. Once I have a number of customers (hopefully so many that I can't give them all regular one-on-one lessons any longer!), it'll be a piece of cake to get them to buy a video course from me. Partly because I'll have some experience with advertising, partly because it's way easier to sell to someone who has already bought something from you, and partly because I'll be able to suit a video course better to students' needs once I've actually taught a few of them.

Do you guys think it's worth starting both at the same time? Creating and posting the course online while simultaneously starting to offer one-on-one classes? Or I'd better just focus on Skype classes and postpone the video course idea for, say, this time next year?
 
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Andy Black

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Thank you guys for the feedback.

I prefered to avoid giving lessons for various reasons:
  • it's not fastlane (especially with the $10-15 hourly rates common in Hungary)
  • I could only be giving the lessons through Skype or else I'd have to wait two more months before I can start (as I'm still in France while I want to teach Hungarians)
  • building a customer base from scratch would probably take as much effort for the one-on-one lessons as for the video course.
But I see what you mean and you're probably right. Once I have a number of customers (hopefully so many that I can't give them all regular one-on-one lessons any longer!), it'll be a piece of cake to get them to buy a video course from me. Partly because I'll have some experience with advertising, partly because it's way easier to sell to someone who has already bought something from you, and partly because I'll be able to suit a video course better to students' needs once I've actually taught a few of them.

Do you guys think it's worth starting both at the same time? Creating and posting the course online while simultaneously starting to offer one-on-one classes? Or I'd better just focus on Skype classes and postpone the video course idea for, say, this time next year?
Do both? Make the course super short (a 5 minute lesson?) and free and see if you can even sell that. It's surprisingly hard to get people to buy something even when it's free.
 

The LordExecutor

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@szaboduf I would say your idea is very sound. I find that a lot of Hungarians struggle with English, so there is definitely a potential audience. You could maybe also give a thought to teaching teachers, although I think that would be harder. At BME I think most of the professors do not know how to speak good enough, or sometimes at all.

And as for how to go about it, maybe you could start one on one and then transition those clients to the course? Or maybe start with one on one and funnel them towards your group/channel, and create a small community that will spread the word when the course comes.
 

Mr.Brandtastic

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When someone says "they don't have time" they are usually politely saying "it wasn't important enough so I did something else".

This is true. But I've also seen it commonly used as an excuse to not do something. They can't start a business because "they don't have time" is bullshit. They don't have time because some soul-sucking job is robbing them of it. If they allow their time to be robbed forever by a job, maybe they were never destined to escape the sidewalk/slowlane anyway.
 
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AfterWind

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This is true. But I've also seen it commonly used as an excuse to not do something. They can't start a business because "they don't have time" is bullshit. They don't have time because some soul-sucking job is robbing them of it. If they allow their time to be robbed forever by a job, maybe they were never destined to escape the sidewalk/slowlane anyway.
I doubt it's the job, most people use their free time to "relax", which means watching TV, playing video games... basically wasting time. Who says relaxing means doing something that is not productive?
 

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The only people that "don't have time" are people that are dead.

Every single person on the planet has exactly the same amount of time.

The difference is priorities. Priorities are made either consciously or unconsciously.

If you chose to go to the Gym every day after you, you chose to make health a priority in your life.

If you chose to go home and play video games and bypass the Gym, you chose to make video games a priority in your life.

Everyone has the same amount of time but everyone has different priorities.
 

szaboduf

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@szaboduf You could maybe also give a thought to teaching teachers, although I think that would be harder. At BME I think most of the professors do not know how to speak good enough, or sometimes at all.

Yeah, that's a problem at many universities and high schools - even the teachers suck at what they teach... However, at 23, I doubt 40-somethings and 50 somethings would trust me to improve their English - and that is already assuming they're willing to admit that their English sucks and they want to improve it, which by itself is unlikely. They 'don't have time' for that shit.

No, I'm going to stick with high school and college students, even with the one-on-one lessons. Those are the people who know they need to improve their English and will pay for it.

Do both? Make the course super short (a 5 minute lesson?) and free and see if you can even sell that. It's surprisingly hard to get people to buy something even when it's free.

That's a great idea! I think after I've had a few different students, I'll have ideas on what are the most common problems that are worth explaining once in a 5 to 10 minute video and showing that to further students instead of keeping explaining it myself over and over again. And when I have a few of these videos, I can bundle them into a mini-course and market it for free. Or in exchange for valuable email addresses :)
 
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However, at 23, I doubt 40-somethings and 50 somethings would trust me to improve their English - and that is already assuming they're willing to admit that their English sucks and they want to improve it, which by itself is unlikely. They 'don't have time' for that shit.

No, I'm going to stick with high school and college students, even with the one-on-one lessons. Those are the people who know they need to improve their English and will pay for it.
Not even for foreign countries?
Where I come from, everyone is always rushing to learn English. I had a college English lecturer who used to train adults for British Council exams...she would talk to my class on the common mishaps she had to deal with adults prepping for English interviews lol. Not all adults have the skills and aptitudes of adults apparently.

I haven't got started on China yet...I'm no Chinaman. But what I heard, they make coin hyping the shit out of English to the local Chinese, and pricing them up to the thousands, for the folks to learn simple grammar and Western culture lol.

I don't see why you cannot sell to the more senior folks. But yes, college kids might be the better pond to fish from.
 

szaboduf

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@ZF Lee Apart from my native Hungarian, English is by far the one language I'm proficient enough to dare to teach it. French comes next, I'm at or maybe even somewhat above level C1 (CEFR - I'm not sure if this framework is well-known outside of Europe) but now, living in France, I experience difficulties with it in everyday use, way more than with English. It would be hard for me to teach French to Hungarians or Hungarian to the French. Teaching English to the French would be a few levels further above on the 'how effing challenging it is' scale, let alone to, say, Spaniards or Czechs, whose language I don't even speak.

This is a blessing and a handicap at the same time living in Europe: every few hundred miles, there's a new country with a completely different language. Scaling a business to a pan-European level comes with huge potential benefits but requires overcoming the language barriers. And that is particularly difficult when your business is language itself.

As for the more senior folks, I definitely wouldn't say it's impossible to get them to improve their English. Many have taken advantage of free movement within Europe and started working in Western Europe where wages are about 3x higher than here for essentially the same job and many more wish to follow them. They have to take their language skills up a notch and deep down they know it - all it requires is an entrepreneur who can find a way of making them take action. But this challange is not for someone who's just about to start his first business venture ever. For now, I'll pass.

Instead, I've posted my ad for youngsters on two platforms for private teachers. While I'm waiting for someone to notice them, I'm starting to build a website of my own with essentially the same offer, which I can then advertise on FB and Google on my own terms. The goal is to be one of the few who bother to build a website instead of being one of the hundreds who only post on the private teachers' platforms.
 

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Time for some real talk. You've identified a need and a potential solution.

However, I don't see you mentioning any experience teaching. There's a very strong relationship between the value you offer (or at least the ability to be perceived at offering value) and the return you get from your consumers. This will require putting a fair amount of time and effort into developing good courses.

I work in curriculum development for language instruction and you definitely cannot under-estimate the amount of time and work that will go into designing effective courses.

First off, the traditional approaches to teaching and learning second languages are absolutely terrible. For example, like all English speaking Canadians, I was required to take French up until the 9th grade. How much French could I speak after finishing 5 years of academic language instruction? Zero.

So, at a bare minimum, it's going to take some experimenting to find an approach that is effective, especially in the form of an online course.

That's not to say you have a bad idea, but be prepared for least a year of experimenting with course formats and online instructional techniques. Personally, the courses I develop require about a 18 month development and testing cycle. This is necessary, because with each course being designed to last the length of semester, 18 months allows for three rounds of testing. What always happens is that no matter how good my plan is for a new course, once I try it out in the classroom, there are always a lot of changes that need to be made and adjustments necessary. Then, upon testing that, the need for more changes are discovered. Then there is another round of testing to determine whether the changes made are successful in delivering the quality standard that I expect of my courses.

Another thing to consider is that adult learners are very lazy when it comes to their learning. Sure, they'll generally show up for university classes and finish assignments as such, but they aren't usually that great at longer term learning that requires an element of discipline to complete. So you'll need to have a system that continually assures them that they are making progress and that their effort will be rewarded when they take the mandatory university course. Otherwise, they give up early without giving your system a decent chance to help them and you'll not benefit from the word-of-mouth marketing (and good reviews) that happy learners will give you.

There's also a possibility to designing courses that combine online learning with 1-on-1 or group learning with a teacher (in person or through Skype or a similar technology). You provide the course format and system and train teachers (with another course) how to play the role of teacher in combination with the online-only components of your teaching system.

Long term, creating courses to help students pass a single test is not a great business strategy. There's a limited potential for repeat business. Not a deal breaker, but something to think about. Consider future products that would be desirable to your target audience (even after they pass the required language test) and plan your business strategy accordingly.
 

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Every single person on the planet has exactly the same amount of time.

This whole comment is great, but this line especially. We all get 24 hours per day. Entrepreneurs simply make the most of the minutes.

Average guy spends time listening to music while driving. Fastlaner listens to audiobooks and podcasts.

Average guy spends an average 4-5 hours watching tv after work. Fastlaner reads and works on his business, having no time for such foolishness.

Average guys texts and spends time on social media during work. Fastlaner seeks to learn more during work (if he has a job), learning is relaxing. Fastlaner sees social media as simply a tool to grow his business.

Average guy goes to work and can't do more because he's "tired". Fastlaner is also tired, powers through it and stops being a pussy.

Average guy must sleep 8-10 hours a day minimum. Fastlaner stays up late and wakes up early, squeezing more hours out of the day.

Average guy doesn't "have time" to start a business. Fastlaner finds time and makes time.
 
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szaboduf

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However, I don't see you mentioning any experience teaching.

That's because I don't really have any. I've helped quite a few people at some point or another when they felt stuck with something before an exam, but considering that it wasn't regular (usually just a few questions a single time, usually the day before the exam) and that it spread across several subjects rather than focused on English, I wouldn't call it 'experience in teaching'. What I learned on these occasions was more about a deeper insight on my own part into the subject (explaining something to someone makes you understand it better yourself), not some revelation on how to efficiently explain an issue to someone.

Another thing to consider is that adult learners are very lazy when it comes to their learning. Sure, they'll generally show up for university classes and finish assignments as such, but they aren't usually that great at longer term learning that requires an element of discipline to complete. So you'll need to have a system that continually assures them that they are making progress and that their effort will be rewarded when they take the mandatory university course. Otherwise, they give up early without giving your system a decent chance to help them and you'll not benefit from the word-of-mouth marketing (and good reviews) that happy learners will give you.

My idea is not about preparation for a course but about preparation for an exam. A typical student would take it AFTER they've attended their compulsory language courses but still don't know enough to get the certificate. In subjects other than English, typically the math-related courses, buying an online video course is the way most students prepare for their exams. (For this same reason, testing can take somewhat less time than for your courses: the language exam is offered more than twice per year. As far as I know, this specific exam is organized 3 times a year, so taking 3 'seasons' would make 12 months.)

In-class instructions are practically worthless at my university - few students think they're sufficient for passing the exam, let alone for getting a good grade. I know many who will pay at the end of each semester almost as much as their tuition for the semester, just to get video courses and classroom courses that actually help them pass the exam.

This is a business school. Math, statistics, operations research, finance, accounting, controlling are compulsory courses for everyone, and the market for both online and offline extra courses is saturated. For some reason, languages are not covered yet, even though a language is compulsory, too, and for most students, the default choice is English. And students do need help with English: private language teachers are abundant, offline language courses are offered by the university as well as separate language institutions, a seemingly uncountable number of workbooks and other resources are sold in bookstores and online. But I haven't found any video courses yet.

Of course, this would only be my first course. Although I do think it can work long term since there are a few thousand students each year who want to (or: have to) take this exam, the potential revenue and profit is limited. I agree with you in that it would be better for my business to offer other courses - for example, a course for complete beginners, a course for wannabe expats etc.
 

Andy Black

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What I'd do:

1) Find forums or Facebook groups inhabited by people learning English*.

2) Help people where I can.

3) Refine and reuse answers. Observe which answers help people the most and keep getting reused.

4) Consolidate some of those answers into a short course.

5) Release the course - into the very forums and Facebook groups where I've been helping people.


* The success will depend a lot on who inhabits those forums or Facebook groups, and why they're there. Maybe you'd do better in a group of Chinese business owners trying to export to the UK or US? Maybe you'd do better in a group of students trying to get scholarships in the UK or US?
 

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It seems a great idea! I'd reccomend you to find the last tests and begin to analyze how it works the test, which metheod you would create to make easier the grammar explanation, how to pick faster vocabulary up, and what they need to learn for the test. For your videos, I'd say that people like easy and simple explanation (when it refers to learning a language). Maybe you could make videos of 5 to 10 minutes. I think the easier and more simple are your videos and funnier, the more students gonna interested on your online course.
I'm also creating a online course for spanish speakers, the beggining is, sometimes, so hard because it doesnt know where to start but then everything make sense and the goals become clearer.
 
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