Michael Ashcroft

September 15, 2021 14:25

Getting my business to nudge me towards behaviours I want

The main way that my business makes money right now is through the sale of my Alexander Technique online course. There’s also some 1:1 coaching, but I don’t do much of that so it generates less than $1k a month.

Until now I’ve sold the course through a series of launches, where I would make it available for a few days and then close it. Without a doubt this was a wise approach as I was getting started and I would do it again. It led lots of people to buy the course, because scarcity, then talk about it online, because hype, and all this drove more sales in later launches.

I didn’t do the launches to create scarcity. I did them to help focus my attention on building the course, but that’s the effect it had, regardless of whether it was intentional or not.

Now, since my personal income is entirely derived from my business, I am massively, some might even say foolishly exposed to how many people buy the course. So you’d think I’d spend most of my time thinking about it, improving it and marketing it… right?

Right?

Doesn’t look that way. In fact, It looks like the launches created a perverse incentive, one that I’ve decided to unwind.

Instead of remaining engaged with course development, some part of my mind knew I had recently made several months’ worth of personal income, which led me to just leave the course alone, even though I wanted to build it. Not only that, but the weeks leading up to each launch are always an intense period of thinking and filming videos, so I suspect there was a kind of mini-burnout cycle appearing,

Ultimately all this led to a kind of on/off, stop/start approach to engaging with ideas that matter a lot to me. This is not how I want to behave, now or over the years to come.

I’ve discussed elsewhere that I want to build my kind of lifestyle business, which in the context of that note meant ‘not working too hard’:

For now I shall build my business around the lifestyle I want, one where I can spend my days reading, thinking, writing, travelling, talking to people and, yes obviously, also working. To me, today, the sense of freedom and flexibility I get is worth sacrificing more money.

But there’s another angle to this. I want to build a lifestyle business that actively encourages me to read, think, write and talk to people, always, and not one that just allows time for those things.

Rather than chastise myself for not working with the appropriate focus, intensity and consistency, I’ve decided to change the incentive structure. No more launches. The course is now available for purchase at any time.

It's the end of a launch. Get it? Because they're landing? You get it
Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

I actually made this change a few days ago. Do you know what happened the moment I made the course available for purchase? Absolutely nothing. I didn’t make any money. This is the point.

The only way people will buy the course is if they know it exists and that it can give them what they want. For these to be true I need to talk about the course and the ideas within it a lot, i.e. to write consistently. I need to do my own R&D to move more deeply into the subject matter so I can build more and better stuff. And I need to figure out what people really want and explore new ways to give them that.

Actually doing all this requires much more consistent engagement from me than doing a launch every few months and hoping for the best, which has been my current strategy until now, even if it was implicit.

I want to keep this design approach firmly in mind as my business grows. If ever I find myself behaving in ways that are counter to what I and my business need, I will explore ways to change the structures around me so that my behaviour naturally aligns with what I and my business need.

As long as I keep certain principles in mind: that I don’t want to create a burden for myself and that I want to pay myself properly, this should lead to outcomes that feel good.

It’s an experiment, anyway. Let’s see what happens.

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