Case Study: 3 Step Business Pivot From Book to Course to Apps



I started to write a how to start a startup book 3 years ago

My book began as a checklist of business ideas. I'd been using it myself and to help people create and test startup ideas and products fast. It was humble, disorganised and at a glance didn't lend itself to much more than a handy-dandy list of stuff for eager people to try.  And try they did.  

Results and feedback rolled in from clients and user testing, however it was clear there was more to do to make it useful.  So, like anyone who has quietly nursed the idea of writing a book, I started to write thinking I would package it up as a book. To get advice I started to talk to people about what I was writing about - how to start a startup when you start with nothing. Startup paint by numbers for the non-technical. This is where the ride really began.

Then it became a online business course

People who'd used the list and others were pleased that I was writing a book, but what they badgered me for was the steps, the systems, the tools, the processes to research, test and monetise a business fast. They needled me for the steps. They asked for the manuscript. They wanted to have a cashed up Christmas or an overseas Summer holiday now, not once I had finished a book - which in their mind - well, could be never.

So I pivoted from writing the book and repurposing the content for a course, recording videos and sharing it for further feedback. Naturally,  I ran a pilot. 

As they say in #startuplife 'trust their dollars, not their words' so if no one bought I knew that I could happily return to my book no worse for wear. I could probably get the videos transcribed and add that to the book anyway.  I was comfortable if the whole course thing was going to be notched up as a detour - a naturally occurring event  in every entrepreneur's life. For more on pivoting and other top tips on starting a start up read 27 Seconds of Courage Plus 9 Other Lessons From Sydney Startups

I put up a few Facebook posts and sent an email and brave souls actually put up their hand to be guinea pigs and pay money to join the pilot. The pilot course began to sell.

Terrifyingly, I realised that I actually hadn't figured out how to deliver the course to students - at this point the course content exceeded 15 videos and 30,000 words - so email wouldn't cut it. That is also just part of the process you just have to keep solving the problem that is in front of you. Each problem comes with its own risks, rewards and sometimes terror.

Happily, there's always a solution. There's always someone who's gone before you who you can tweet or email or have coffee with to ask advice. Just ask around - forums, Facebook, events, Twitter - after a bit you will find a new friend to help with your business adventure. 

It was trusty Basecamp to the rescue. An unorthodox choice to be sure, but it worked a treat as students could comment and share, I could set up modules then share when I wanted to and everyone got a daily email of the happenings in the course and their fellow students. Perfect. And it was a pilot.  I didn't fancy having to jump though the hoops of a Udemy (who are great but just not the right tool for a pilot) to just see if what I had was what the people wanted. That could all come later. 

Students came. They made stuff. They made money. With a continuous feedback loop I changed, modified, deleted and reshuffled then went on with more, new students.

That became Android and Apple apps for my client's own businesses

I quickly fell in love with my students and all their diverse and majestic ideas for the right business for them. 

As a marketer and product creator by trade I wanted my students to have the edge something special, something that set them apart from their competition, that made them immediately global and mobile.  

And it kind of just happened - along came the apps which we'll be launching in the first half of 2017.  Yes, now you can have a professional Android and Apple app for your business - whether you have a cafe, coaching business, winery, blog, software service or social enterprise.  Sell from it, send alerts, take bookings, share you content all wrapped in your own brand and styling - it's good stuff.  

I would be lying if I said any of this was part of some genius master plan, it has all just been a process of listening to what people want, pivoting energy and effort then creating the product fast and then continuing to listen to and think about my customer.  

It's not a straight line. There's back tracking, rebooting and rekindling ideas that you have left in the dust. Sometimes there's a bonfire for a most beloved goal or direction, but if it isn't what customers want it doesn't serve you. It comes down to picking what you believe is right based on the data and direct customer feedback then running at it full force. Try not to disperse your precious energy and resources. Solopreneurs in particular will exhaust themselves.

And here we are

And so it goes I have an online course with one-on-one email coaching - The 10-Day Entrepreneur and downloadable version of the same. I have found some time for the book which will be available 2017 and pre-sales have started. 

COMING SOON - Android and Apple Apps for businesses that already have some online presence and want to take it to the next level! So much better than a business card! So fun. So proud and grateful. 

You can create an online business in 90 minutes a day over 10 days. What will you wish you started this time next year - a business. Start something.


It is easy to fall in love with our plan.  But our plan is not always what our citizens need.  I would love to know how you've listened and  tested ideas then pivoted your business, service or products to truly serve your market. Let me know @CreateAllThings so I can bring your feedback together in a new post and credit you. Let's make it better together.