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Coaching and courses: How do they fit in YOUR business?

items representing different forms of learning and development

We hear a lot, and rightly so, about the importance of working not just IN our business, but ON our business.

Does working ON your business include figuring out whether and how you want to provide coaching, in addition to online courses?

I've been thinking about how we as service-oriented, mission-driven online educators can optimize the mix and balance between coaching and courses as two different ways of providing guidance and instruction.

In this blog post, I'd like to share the method I've created in my business, for structuring my course design coaching practice.

(Next week, I'll go much deeper into the topic of how coaching and courses can fit together in your business from a LEARNING DESIGN perspective...but first, let's explore the basics of how to structure the coaching in practical terms.)

If you provide coaching in addition to online courses, or have been thinking about doing so, I'd love to hear your thoughts and reflections as well.


What IS "Coaching"?

"Coaching" has different meanings in different contexts, so it's important to be clear on what we mean by the term, specifically.

There are specialized definitions of "coaching" based on the standards of specific industries.

I'm using "coaching" to describe a DELIVERY STRUCTURE for conveying my course design guidance to clients. 

In that context, "coaching" means working with my clients one-on-one in a "done with you" format. 

coaching concept

In coaching,  the focus is on the client and their specific goals.

The focus of my course design coaching is to help each client design their course as quickly and effectively as possible.

My coaching is specifically tailored to the unique project goals of each client.

It's a highly customized, hands-on, bespoke experience where I provide in-depth guided practice to walk my clients through the process of setting up their own course.

In my coaching process, the client operates their subject matter expertise, and I operate the learning design expertise.

In coaching,  I handle the "heavy lifting" of course design  FOR the client; they don't need to learn the art and science of course design for themselves.

If they WANT to learn course design per se (in order to be able to create additional courses in the future, for example), that's when they would need to take a course, which is a very different experience than coaching.


What's a "course"?


"Courses" are structured learning experiences delivered in an online format.

The goal of my Course Design Formula® Master Course is for each participant to learn how to operate the Course Design Formula® for themselves.

In the Master Course, as in coaching, each participant ends up creating an online course.

The difference between the course and coaching is that in the Master Course the focus is on internalizing and mastering the learning design PROCESS, over and above creating a specific finished product.

The goal of my course-design coaching

is to develop a PRODUCT.

The client sets the goal for the product they want to develop,

 with my ongoing support and guidance.

The goal of the Course Design Formula® Master Course 

is to learn a PROCESS.

I as the instructor establish the learning goal

 for what the student needs to learn at each step of the process.

In my business, I follow a specific set of procedures for coaching.

I thought it might be helpful to share these, as I see many experts and entrepreneurs contemplating how to structure these aspects of their own businesses.

If the processes and procedures I've developed in my business can be helpful to you as you develop yours, that will be great!

Check out the flipbook below to see the coaching process I've developed.


(You can enlarge the flipbook by clicking on the white square or the + icon in the lower right hand corner of the navy area below. If you are on a smartphone you can expand the flipbook by in landscape view by dragging on it with your fingers, as well).

Coaching structure for Learn and Get Smarter, Inc.

What does "coaching" mean, and what does it look like, in the context of YOUR business?

How does coaching integrate with the way you offer, or plan to offer, online courses?

Join us in the Course Design Formula® community Facebook group, or at the Saturday morning Learn and Get Smarter community meeting, to explore these and other topics in depth.

Optimizing the Systems that Support Your Business

A Variety of Adhesive Notes Pattern on Beige Yellow Background.

We’ve been talking a lot about systems in the Learn and Get Smarter community over the past several months…and at the community meeting this past Saturday we focused in on the systems needed to keep our online businesses operating smoothly.

Mary Williams of Sensible Woo gave an enlightening presentation. She used the analogy of working out and training at a gym, as a framework to help us think about the kind of digital "workout" we can provide to keep our businesses running strong. (In fact, she calls this  program "The Business Gym").

Mary Williams  of Sensible Woo

Connect with Mary at sensiblewoo.com and on Instagram @sensiblewoo.


Mary is the Chief Technology Therapist at Sensible Woo, where she works with online business owners to make their data management and software systems flow with ease.

She is an accredited librarian with her Master of Science in Information from the University of Michigan School of Information and started her career as the digital archivist for Disney Animation Studios.

She has also worked with marketing agencies, entertainment technology companies, public libraries, fundraising organizations, and technology start-ups.




Mary's  system of "Digital Feng Shui" helps entrepreneurs master milestones  

and get past bottlenecks in their businesses.

(And we all have them. Business bottlenecks, I mean).

Modern gym room

Mary’s goal is to help us create customized business systems, specifically tailored to our own business needs.

Rather than using a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach, she helps her clients and customers map out their own specific workflows, and then find customized ways to optimize them.

Her Workflow system helps transform unconscious ad hoc investments into intentional strategic decisions..


She shares that:  "A business that runs smoothly with a lean overhead is totally attainable and it starts with understanding the best workout for you."


In her presentation last Saturday, Mary shared elements of business fitness such as:

  • Understanding & identifying your business bottlenecks.
  • Understanding what goes into your business foundation.
  • Demystifying workflows for your business.
  • Getting really clear on what constitutes a business backend and business systems.
  • Clarifying the differences and overlap between business technology & marketing.
Business process management with workflow automation diagram and social media network technology

What systems do you use in your business? What systems do you need? 

What does your tech stack look like?

(That is actually one of my favorite questions. I’m fascinated by the technology it takes to create a business that runs by itself).

Or does it?

“Set it and forget it” may be the “holy grail” of digital entrepreneurship, but I don’t actually know anyone for whom it’s a complete  reality.

Even if you DO "set it" ("it" being an automated system of some kind,) if you “forget it” for too long, it’s going to start to run down, fall apart, or go haywire.

Digital systems need care and tending and maintenance, just like any other kind of system.


If you would like to give your business, and the systems needed to run it,  some TLC, 

Mary is hosting an event she calls “The Workflow Party”, 

to help us get our business procedures and processes in tip top shape.

At last week's meeting,

Sophie Lechner of Global Commerce Education, Inc.

shared her affiliate link to 

Mary’s Workflow Party;

 If optimizing the workflows in your business would be helpful to you, check it out!

A workflow that functions well for me in my business, is powered by my scheduling software.

It’s like having a secretary who works 24/7, never makes a mistake, and tactfully reminds me of all meetings multiple times. 

And it’s genius at translating between time zones.

my scheduler screenshot

How about you? 

Do you have a favorite business system, tech tool, or automated solution to a business challenge?

I’d love to hear about it ... from your bottlenecks to your brilliant solutions!

Drop a note to Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com …or come talk about it in the Facebook group!


And if you’d like customized support and help in getting your business systems optimized in ways that make the most sense for YOUR business processes, check out Mary’s WorkFlow Party at the link that Sophie shared with us.

Mary’s creative organizational abilities (and ingenious methods of working with Post- it® notes) are truly dazzling. 

Mary Williams of Sensible Woo and her wall of post it notes

 I hope you can join us next Saturday at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting,

to continue the conversation about how to survive and thrive as digital edupreneurs.

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, October 17th,  2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call