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Why Online Courses Are a Great Model for Older Entrepreneurs

By Margaret Manning November 26, 2018 Managing Money

I almost gave up on my business a couple of years ago. After years of 12-14 hour days, my two partners and I simply weren’t seeing a return on investment. Worse, we had just sunk tens of thousands of dollars into a social network for older adults. We were tired and we felt like quitting.

The problem wasn’t that we weren’t getting traction with our audience. We had 100,000’s of women in our community. Our company had been featured on CNN, HuffPost and Facebook’s best practices page. The problem was that were weren’t able to get our audience to pay for anything. As a result, we continued to pour in time, energy and money without getting anything back.

All that changed on a trip to Bali.

Online Courses Saved My Business

Needing a break, my two founders decided to pick up their backpacks and head for Bali. They thought, rightly so as it turns out, that two months of relaxation would help them to come up with a way to move our business forward.

On their trip, they met so many women in their 50s and 60s who were struggling to learn yoga for the first time – or to reconnect with yoga after several decades off the mat. The unfortunate truth was that most of the women they met gave up after a week. Despite being surrounded by the most beautiful scenery on the planet and having the best teachers in the world, they couldn’t stick with it.

They had a hunch that the women in our community could benefit from a gentle yoga course for absolute beginners. So, they quickly organized a survey and sent it out to our newsletter list. The results were staggering. We heard from so many women who were struggling to stay flexible, reduce stiffness and increase their energy. They just didn’t know where to start.

To make a long story short, they found an amazing yoga teacher, Cat Kabira, with whom they filmed a series of gentle yoga videos for older adults.

These videos went on to be the cornerstone of our revenue strategy. We have also released makeup and fashion online courses, but, the yoga videos continue to be our best sellers.

Why Online Courses Are a Great Business Model for Older Entrepreneurs

If you visit sites like TechCrunch, you could be forgiven for believing that to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to be a 20-something guy, working on apps from his basement. What nonsense! The statistics all show that older entrepreneurs are more successful, on average, than younger entrepreneurs.

One of the reasons for this – and one of the reasons that online courses are such a great business model for older entrepreneurs – is that we simply have more experience.

If you are in your 50s, you are sitting on a goldmine of ideas, experiences and skills. You just need to figure out who could benefit from your knowledge, package it up and sell it.

Of course, there is much more that goes into building a successful business than just developing a product. That said, most people aren’t stopped by the details. They are stopped by the vision.

Don’t think you have a profitable idea to share with the world in the form of an online course? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

What do you love to teach?

What are people always asking for your help with?

What could you talk about for hours?

What skills have you acquired over the years?

What work experience do you have?

What hobbies are you passionate about?

These are just a starting point. People make money from teaching social media marketing, dog training, yoga, fortune telling, baby psychology, golf and so many more topics.

What Are the Benefits of Online Courses, No Matter Your Age

It’s not just that online courses are a great business model for older adults… they are a great business model for people of any age. It’s just that older adults have a built-in advantage due to the experience and skills that they have acquired.

Here are a few reasons that I love online courses…

They are cheap to set up! Most businesses – from McDonalds franchises to app developers – require a significant upfront investment. This is not the case with online courses. If you have an iPhone and an idea, you can start your online course for very little money. Yes, you need a website. Yes, it helps to have a mailing list. But, these are relatively small costs compare to the ones involved in other business models.

They have high revenue potential! Affiliate marketing, unless you have a website with crazy amounts of traffic, won’t make you rich. Neither will advertising. Physical goods have low profit margins and come with plenty of logistical headaches. Online courses are high margin products that require limited infrastructure to sell.

They lead to other opportunities! Many entrepreneurs that I know start with online courses and then diversify into physical goods once they have an infrastructure in place to support them. For example, I started with online yoga videos and now sell DVDs and yoga mats too. In other words, online courses can be the cornerstone of your diversified, profitable business.

I hope that my own story has inspired you to think about what kind of online course you could offer. In the coming months, I will provide additional details on exactly how to set up an online business. But, for now, I hope that this short summary has wet your appetite. Get started today! You won’t regret it!

What kind of online course would you like to teach? What question do you have about starting an online business? Why do you think it is that most people underestimate older entrepreneurs? Please join the conversation.

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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