163: Should You Hire Someone to Help OPERATE Your Online Course Biz? (Featuring Natalie Gingrich)
I can vouch firsthand for the awesome course that today’s guest created: not because I took her course myself, but because of the impact her resources have had on my team! Natalie Gingrich has an inspiring story to share about her online course journey and why she is so passionate about all things operations. We’re talking legacy, certification, and so much more. Enjoy!
In This Episode, We Talked About:
“Knowing the transformation I was able to make… all came back to a skill set. And I knew I could apply that.”
– Natalie Gingrich
- (0:39) David and I discuss our duo name and podcast roles
- (3:00) The theme of today’s episode
- (6:35) David’s business operations
- (7:47) An example of recent changes to my business workflow
- (10:15) Introducing Natalie and her take on operations
- (13:08) Thinking about systems and operations versus lead generation and funnels
- (15:26) Where Natalie focuses her business offerings and how she delivers her training
- (18:43) Trusting and hiring other people to teach
- (21:21) Thinking about how to bring in qualified trainers
- (24:51) How Natalie and her team have created growth while maintaining a personal feel
- (29:16) Why she offers certification
- (35:19) “How do I find somebody who does this?”
- (39:39) What I’m appreciating about having my own OBM
- (40:16) Why certification isn’t an issue for my courses
- (40:40) How Natalie facilitates her program
- (42:57) OBM vs. DOO
- (45:57) Natalie’s recommendations on structure
- (51:25) What if you don’t want to hire a long-term OBM?
- (53:44) Visionaries vs. implementers
- (55:55) My history with project management software
- (57:19) Full-time vs. part-time OBM’s
- (1:00:42) Natalie’s “why” story
- (1:09:18) Talking legacy
- (1:10:42) The difference between operations roles in business
- (1:13:30) Where to find Natalie’s resources online
- (1:14:33) Why David and I appreciate operations-minded people
- (1:16:00) Getting into the weeds on how Natalie runs her program
- (1:19:13) Bringing on more instructors and offering live training
- (1:22:02) High vs. low touch-point choices
- (1:23:58) The hiring process for virtual employees or contractors
- (1:29:31) Gauging people’s long-term compatibility with your business
- (1:30:59) The likeability factor
- (1:36:10) David’s story about personality types
- (1:39:52) The Wonderlic test and other types of verification
- (1:47:45) “Wounded boyfriend expectations”
- (1:50:44) The importance of documenting standard operating procedures
- (1:53:07) Wrapping up and teasing next week’s interview
That’s all for now, folks! See you on the next episode of The Online Course Show.
Links Offers and Tools:
- By the Book podcast
- Happier podcast
- Fix This First
- Life as Paper “Favorite Things” printable
Jacques Hopkins 00:02
Regular people are taking their knowledge and content, packaging it up in an online course, and they're making a living doing it.
Jacques Hopkins 00:12
But not everyone is successful with online courses. There's a right way and there's a wrong way. And I'm here to help course creators actually succeed with online courses. Hi, I'm Jacques Hopkins, and this is The Online Course Show.
Jacques Hopkins 00:32
And off we go, welcome aboard glad you're with us. I am your host, Jacques Hopkins. And there's our co-host, what's going on Dr. K?
David Krohse 00:40
Oh, I'm just living the dream up here. How are you doing?
Jacques Hopkins 00:42
Doing well, you know, I was thinking about, you know, my relationship with you in this podcast. And I'm surprised. I thought of, like, a nickname for the two of us, like our tandem. And I'm surprised nobody's mentioned this before. Or maybe they have, and I just forgot, but we're Jacques and the Doc.
David Krohse 00:59
Jacques and the Doc. Nice. I like it.
Jacques Hopkins 01:02
You're not as impressed as I thought you would be.
David Krohse 01:05
No. It's good. It's clever. I like that. I read a book about podcasts and the lady has a podcast, it's By the Book. I don't know if you've ever heard of this one.
Jacques Hopkins 01:16
David Krohse 01:17
And so, By the Book, she and these two co-hosts read a self-help book, or a personal growth book, and then they try to live by that book for two weeks. And they do these experiments on their husbands and then they get together and report how things went. And they're both comedians, it's pretty funny. So, I listened to that. But she wrote a book on starting a podcast and she said, "When you have two hosts, it can be good to have the main host and then a foil." And the foil is the guy, or the other hosts that, like if the first person is really good at getting things done, then the foil is the one that's like, doesn't get anything done. So, I guess there's a podcast called Happier with Gretchen Rubin. And so, Gretchen is like this super woman gets everything done, and then her sister is on there, and it's like, "Yeah, she knows it's a good idea, but she doesn't get things done as much." And I'm like, alright. So, I told my wife the other day, we were in the kitchen working on a project and I pulled a piece of foil and I said, "I learned that I'm this."
Jacques Hopkins 02:18
No. So, you're the A player, and I'm the total screw up. That's what this is, right?
David Krohse 02:22
Well, not majority of the time.
Jacques Hopkins 02:25
Well, I think a lot of aspects of life, that would be the case. But if we're just talking about online courses, then maybe we can switch roles for just that. And look, I want to talk a lot about operations here in this episode. And that goes along with that a little bit because and a lot of times in companies, online course businesses, you'll find that the two people, in successful ones, the two people most kind of at the top of the organization, you have kind of the higher-level visionary, and then the other person is more focused on the day to day more operations type activity. And to be honest with you, I don't think we spent enough time on this podcast, talking about the operations within an online course business. You know, we had Abbey Ashley on a few episodes ago, she talked about it a bit. And that's a huge component to her success. Jason Dion, a few episodes before that. Both of those are $2 million a year course creators, and both admittedly gave a lot of credit to operations there. And so, this episode is going to be all about operations. What do you think of, Mr. Doc, when you think of operations?
David Krohse 03:37
Oh, I mean, it's so important. Just, I mean, you have to have an organized business. And, yeah, it's just hard to do everything when you're a solopreneur. It's hard to put your focus in all the spots, and all of us have our things that we are best at. So, it's a shame when somebody who has a really great focus on being a visionary, or loves the marketing is spending tons of time on things like paperwork.
Jacques Hopkins 04:04
Yeah, yeah, I'm going to try to define it. Like, I don't want to do like Webster's dictionary definition, but if I had to define operations, and by the way, there's, you know, I like to keep this podcast pretty PG, just in case people want to listen around their kids or whatever. You know, I've got young kids, and I'm sensitive to that, for sure. But in my definition, it just happens to have a curse word in it. So, I'm going to replace that curse word with something I love. And I'll replace it with coffee. Okay? So, my definition is the day-to-day activities that get coffee done.
David Krohse 04:40
Jacques Hopkins 04:41
Okay. I mean, plain and simple. Like, that is what it is. And so, when I'm telling people like, what does a successful online course business looks like, a lot of times, I'll leave out the operations piece. I've shown this diagram to you and to the audience on video plenty of times, but in general, there's like four components to a successful online course business. So, you've got to have traffic. Right? You actually have people coming into your world. Then you've got to have a funnel because that's what really builds the relationship and rapport with leads and turns them into paying customers. Then you've got to have a course because we're talking about an online course business. You've got to have that deliverable, that experience, and in this case, it's a course. And then you've also got to have students access and testimonials. But within each piece, and then over on top of each piece is operations, we've got to actually get that coffee done, right? We got to execute on all those things. And if you're the only person in your business doing those things, then it takes you away from other things you could be doing.
Jacques Hopkins 05:46
And so, in today's episode, and in the conversation of the day, I spoke with Natalie Gingrich, who is an expert in operations, and she trains what's called Directors of Operations. And as you know, I've got a Director of Operations in my business as of the past four months. And Natalie trained her. Natalie trained Colleen. Colleen went through her program. And it was a great conversation. We got into the weeds, a little bit of operations, but because this is a topic that we don't talk about much this is one that's completely focused on operations, but also, the way Natalie runs her program is different than I've seen, as well. So that's kind of what we're getting into today. Now, my definition here, do you agree with my definition of operations?
David Krohse 06:34
Yeah, that sounds great.
Jacques Hopkins 06:35
So, you have... how many businesses do you have?
David Krohse 06:38
Well, essentially, I have my chiropractic practice, and then the online course is currently in side hustle status. So...
Jacques Hopkins 06:45
Right, so your online course business, that's just you, right? You don't have a team around that, correct? So, you do everything, including operations there.
David Krohse 06:55
Jacques Hopkins 06:55
But what about your in-person chiropractic business? I'm sure there's some operations going on there.
David Krohse 06:59
Right. Yes. And currently, it's primarily just me and one other employee. She's a superwoman, she's incredible. She's doing a little bit more than she should. But one of the things, I mean, being a manager, you just learn things as a manager or business owner that you don't anticipate. One of the things that I learned is that I experienced a ton of stress if somebody in my team is twiddling their thumbs. And I could not have known that. But sometimes I'd hire and then somebody's kind of killing time. And that I mean, like my blood pressure and my heart rate, I just felt it rise, because I was like, looking around, what can I have them do? I know how much I hate twiddling my thumbs and trying to look busy when I'm not. So yeah, we run a little bit lean. But the days go super-fast.
Jacques Hopkins 07:46
Very cool. Before we get into the conversation with Natalie, I wanted to give one example of some operational, like efficiencies that we've implemented recently, and kind of what it would have looked like before college, and before I had placed an importance on operations. So, right now we're working on some new initiatives in Piano In 21 Days. We're working on some new courses. One of those courses is called Jazz In 21 Days. It's a new full program meant for graduates of my first course that didn't want to start learning jazz as well, and blues piano. And so, we've got a video editor on the team. And before Colleen, before Asana, before I thought about any of this stuff, I just would have been like, "Hey Zoltan, here's the raw files. Here's the goal, like make it happen." And that kind of would have been it. But now, the way we're doing it is we have like 21 little tasks in Asana. And within... which is the project management software that we use. And then within each one, there's several like statuses or phases of the task, right? So, if Zoltan is currently working on it, like that's the status. If he's finished, and it needs my review, like he changes it to that status, and then the task automatically gets assigned to me instead of him. And then I can either approve it or request edits. Right? And if I click Request Edits, I put in my edits, and then it automatically assigns it back to him. So, you know, if I'm reviewing the first video, and he's editing the second video, then then I have edits on the first one, as soon as he's done editing the second video, he can jump back to the first one, and apply those edits. Whereas before, it just would have been a lot of confusion. It would have been very inefficient. But this is a very much more efficient way to do things. And I think it's better for everybody, right? It's better for me, it's better for Zoltan, it's better for my company, and it's better for my students as well.
David Krohse 09:50
Yeah, that sounds slick.
Jacques Hopkins 09:51
Yeah, it's good. And so, we've done that a lot of that type of stuff. I mean, getting these podcast episodes out, getting YouTube videos out, getting new courses out, and so on. And so, I've really been geeking out on operations lately, and it was fun to geek out on it with Natalie as well. So, without further ado, let's go ahead and play the full conversation between me and Natalie Gingrich.
Jacques Hopkins 10:15
Hi, Natalie, welcome to The Online Course Show.
Natalie Gingrich 10:17
Hello, hello, I'm super excited to be here and to get to connect with you.
Jacques Hopkins 10:21
Same here. So, we talk on this podcast a lot about funnels, and courses, and marketing, and automation, and all that. We rarely talk about operations. So, why don't we start there? Like, what is operations?
Natalie Gingrich 10:34
Such as sexy... It's such a sexy topic isn't it?
Jacques Hopkins 10:36
And I'm sure you've never gotten that question from people before either.
Natalie Gingrich 10:39
You know what, Jacques, in my own experiences, I would have never called this “Operations” until I had to do a lot of work and really refining and communicating. So of course, I get the question. And I am absolutely happy to share my learnings with you and your audience about that. We all have a collectively better understanding of what operations looks like and what it really is, but I'll tell you a little story as to how I kind of derived this. When we talk about business, there's two sides of business, you've got the front side, and you've got the back side. And that's about as granular as we kind of get before we start building these businesses. The front side is the marketing side, and that's everything before the sell. And then after the sell is where operations comes in. And so, the back of the business, or the backside of business, whatever it is, whatever technical term you want to use, that's the operational side. And so, I like to look at this as what does it take for your business to be able to deliver on the promises that you have sold?
Natalie Gingrich 11:39
So, we are looking at project management: How are we going to deliver the product? Fulfillment of the product. The financials: How do we keep the foundation of the business set up in a really strong way? And then oh, yeah, that whole team component where you need people to help you to deliver the products that you have promised and are working on. So, operations is really a big, generalized topic. But the specific disciplines underneath that: project management, human resources, which has like 19 different tentacles, but as a broad category, financials, and some reporting is underneath there, technology, and fulfillment. So, if you have ever thought about any of those, which I know if you're in business, you thought about all of them. But that's what operations looks like. And that's what it's comprised of.