Your Mission Statement
At this stage, your research is done. You’ve looked closely at your motives and character to make sure you’re coming from the right place. And, you’ve committed to running a mentoring business online. The next step is to write a mission statement, to start your business plan.
Your mission statement doesn’t have to be long, in fact, two or three sentences will work wonders. Take your time, though, because this mission statement will be the soul of your program. It not only defines who you are, but also what you claim to be providing your students.
As you work in mentoring, take a few minutes to look at your mission statement on a regular basis. This will help you stay on track. Now, write your business plan.
There are many different models and templates to choose from on the Internet, but they all have one thing in common: they change! A business plan should never be set in stone, and should change as your business changes. If it changes so much, why bother having one in the first place?
It acts like a map for you, to show you how to get where you want to go, efficiently. If you don’t have one, you could find yourself with no students and a dead site in just a year.
You can write your business plan on a napkin, buy a template from a book store, or on a regular piece of paper. No matter what approach you use, your business plan should include your mission statement and specific goals for: three months from now, six months from now, nine months from now, a year from now, two years from now, and so on.
There are two steps you should never skip when you start your mentorship program. You should always meet with a lawyer to discuss your business plan and make sure there isn’t anything that could come back to hurt you. You should a lot take time to find out the tax rules and regulations in your country, and local areas to make sure you set up the appropriate business structure for income tax purposes.
Setting your membership site up as a business will make it easier to brand when it takes off. Speak with an intellectual property lawyer about copyright and trademark for your business name and logo. This will protect you much better than the “automatic” copyright that may or may not be applicable.
As an extra bonus, it protects you from future law changes that may leave your business identity susceptible for the taking.When it comes to names, choose one that will stick in your readers’ minds, yet is also descriptive about what you’re about. Purchase the .com version of your domain name to make sure you have it when you are ready.
If possible, also grab the other versions of your domain name (.org, .net, etc.) to prevent someone else from branding and potentially stealing your clients.
Regardless of which type of membership site you choose to run, you need to protect yourself with three pages of content:
- Terms and Conditions
These three things are vital to your legal protection. There are several different templates you can use online to protect yourself. If you are concerned about protection, you can have a lawyer review your documents, or even draft them for you. If you’re using a paid-access blog, then you have the option of using plugins to take care of this for you.
Scripts: Choosing the Best One for Your Membership Site
Forums and many paid-access blogs get their interactive elements from the scripts they are run with. You can use the script on the company’s site, or you can install it on your own server.
Using a Script to Run a Paid Access Blog Memberwing is an excellent WordPress plugin that will allow you to control paid access to your blog. An added bonus? It process payments and manage subscriptions for you.
Using a Script to Run a Forum
A member is the most popular script for this task because it supports multiple payment options and a two-tier affiliate program. This script will cost you $179.99, but it can be used to setup both free and restricted levels of access. The best part? You can get installed for free!
DLGuard is another script that is highly recommended. It supports multiple payment processors and PayDotCom and eBay intergration. Another plus is, it can handle more than one website from a single install. As of this writing, you can get a double install on two websites for $127, making it slightly more affordable than Amember.
The Simple Machines Forum (SMF) is a forum software that uses PHP and MySQL (much like WordPress.) Their website says: “The Package Manager included in SMF is one of the flagship features. It allows an administrator to install modifications and updates to SMF without having to modify the code of the script, usually with only a few mouse clicks.”
All these scripts are fairly easy to get up and running.
Promoting Your Mentor Membership Site
After you’ve done your research, developed your business plan and setup your website with your script, it’s promotion time. You can generate a decent amount of buzz in advance of your launch by using the free email course we talked about earlier to let your list know what your plans are. You can even offer free trial to the first X number of people who opt-in.
You are in charge of whatever that number is, but you should make sure it’s large enough to give yourself a valid test run.
Use the test run to iron out the kinks in the system, and after you’ve done that, use other traditional promotion methods to spread the word about your new business.
- Posts and comments on related forums
- A Squidoo lens on your niche.
- A Hub Page on your niche.
- Article marketing with resource box links.
- Social networking
- Write a free report (keep it small) that will entice people to sign up to find out when your membership site makes its debut.
Preventing Member Loss
Most people will leave a membership site at the three month mark, but by constantly promoting your website, you won’t see a member loss because members who leave will be replaced by new members.
Here are a few tips to keep your members and one-on-one students happy with your work.
Make sure your members feel like they’re getting more than what they’re paying for.
- Keep them expecting, and wanting more. Make sure they know there’s always another piece of the puzzle for them to look forward to.
- Use teasers to pique their curiousity and increase desire for what’s coming next.
- Give the members a real reason to stay. Let them know they’ll get a free bonus if they stick around for three or six months. This can be anything from a free ebook, or a one-on-one coaching session. Whatever you choose needs to be something the members would pay for!
- Offer a free trial to the first X number of people, crossing off and updating that number with however many spots are left as each person signs up. This will create a feeling of scarcity, which will entice people to sign up before the offer goes away. Set a limit on the free trial, either with the number of people who will get it, or the length of the free trial.
- Start off with a low price that will attract members, and then gradually raise it for every 20 or 50 new members.
- Regardless of what you do, make sure you’re always providing something extra to keep that “wow” factor up! Just Ask! Don’t forget to use your built-in resource! Ask your students for feedback!
- Ask specific questions to increase your chances of getting real answers. Provide options such as:
- What do you want to cover in the next X lessons?
- Do you want to study A or B?
- Would you rather have a coupon for the end of your trial, or an extra two weeks “free?”
- Don’t ask the questions in a way that make you appear indecisive, as this can make your students lose confidence in you. You should make them feel privileged because you have a solid plan, but their input is giving them respect and flexibility. Then, show them you’re paying attention by putting their suggestions in place.
Respect your students. You will learn from as much from them as you will teach them. You will create a real bond with your students if you’ve gone into mentoring for the right reasons.
The ball’s now in your court, but if you’ve made it this far, I know you can do it!