Growing a Million Dollar Online Course Institution with School of Motion founder Joey Korenman

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The Nitty Gritty:

  • How it’s possible even when you’re successful to change direction and create something that works better for your life
  • What signals of success let Joey know he was on to something
  • How building a team allows you to focus on what matters most to allow for company’s growth

A few years ago, School of Motion founder Joey Korenman, my guest on this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast, had achieved what he thought would mean true business success and happiness. Instead he realized he was so busy climbing the mountain of success he thought he should be on, he forgot to summit the mountain of success he wanted to be on. We talk about the path Joey took to build a $1 million online course institution for motion designers in less than 3 years and some of the lessons he learned along the way.

If at first you don’t find happiness; try, try again

It was a little bit of strategy and a little bit of naivety.

– Joey Korenman

Joey seemed to be living the dream. He had opened his own studio with two business partners. His office was in the heart of downtown Boston with a client list that included ad agencies for some of America’s biggest brands. About two years in, a daily 3-hour commute, all-nighters and client pressure to perform regardless of what it did to his work/life balance, Joey looked up and realized he was depressed and needed to “figure out an escape hatch.”

When he started to consider the possibilities, he didn’t know his new business would be selling training. Joey started a blog (even though he knew nothing about digital marketing) to teach people motion design after seeing Greyscalegorilla, a business in his space, was blogging. At the time he built his website, he had no idea how he was going to make money. After a trial period developing and selling plug-ins for animation tools, Joey realized what he really wanted to do was teach.

The moment he knew he was on to something

If you can bring someone from their head space into yours they will follow you anywhere.

– Joey Korenman

While blogging, Joey was honing his entrepreneurial skills and learning through resources from Pat Flynn, Tim Ferriss and Jaime Masters. He knew there was a need in his niche for an intent 6-week long course for intermediate motion designers where humans would review the work. The only problem? It would take 3 months to create the course he imagined; in the meantime, he had to keep paying the bills.

So, he took a bit of advice from Jaime and he decided to pre-sell a course (yes, a course he hadn’t even created). He sent an email (the email content is included as a case study in Pat Flynn’s book, Will It Fly?) out to a list of approximately 4,000 he built and very authentically told them he was going to build the animation course he wished he would have had coming up and he was going to explain more in a webinar. The webinar sold out in 5 minutes. At the end of the webinar the beta version of the course sold out in 5 minutes, and he made $5 grand in 5 minutes. These were clear signs Joey was onto something.

Building a team

Joey took it slow when building his team by first hiring a part-time contractor in part due to his fear of “having another mouth to feed.” However, every time he’s unable to focus on the work that he should do to build the company—content production and products—he realizes it’s time to hire another resource. Once the right person has joined the team in the right role, their collective productivity soars. And as Joey becomes better at learning to let go, he is finding ways to manage quality control in a different way rather than being involved in every aspect of the business. 

There’s a lot more in the full episode including a conversation about confidence and authenticity, customer acquisition and how Joey’s team is focused on creating systems that will catapult them to a $3 or $4 million-revenue company.

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