The Coronavirus crisis is hitting many small business owners (and people in general) hard. We're facing a recession of uncertain duration, right now.
This post is my attempt to provide as much as possible in terms of strategy, tools and tactics that will help you generate an online income source and/or turn your offline business into an online business.
Note: Document in Progress
My priority with this content has been to get it published as quickly as possible, because I can clearly see that there's an emergency need among some people. I will continue updating this post with new tools and content over time. If you want to be notified when I update the post, you can subscribe here.
- 00:48 - Who this video is made for.
- 04:15 - Calculate your "runway score".
- 08:41 - If you have a high runway score: play the long game.
- 13:06 - If you have a low runway score: what tradeoffs to make.
- 17:19 - Identify & take action on leverage points in your business.
- 21:04 - 80/20 your offers for a time of crisis.
- 22:33 - How to online-ify an offline business.
List of Tools & Resources
Here are the tools and resources that can help you with the various approaches discussed in the video. I will be adding to these lists over time, as new recommendations come in and as I answer questions asked by the community.
Tools for Online Meetings, Online Classes Etc.
- For a full overview, check our my webinar software review roundup.
- Skype recently added a meetings feature which you can use even with participants who don't have skype installed.
- Zoom is an online meeting tool that has a free plan and can be upgraded for meetings with larger groups.
- Crowdcast is a webinar and meeting platform that makes it extra easy for you to get paid. You can charge for online events, as well as accept donations during an event and make Patreon-supporter-exclusive events.
- PunchPass is a tool specifically made for scheduling and offering online classes.
Build Your Website & Online Presence
On a long runway, use:
- Namecheap for your domain, WPX Hosting for your hosting & WordPress as the CMS.
- Thrive Theme Builder & Thrive Architect
On a short runway, use:
- A free website building tool like Wix or Webnode.
- The most important thing here is to get a simple page up, where you can link to your online classes, course or whatever. Don't get bogged down in website creation if you're on a short runway.
Tools for Creating & Selling Online Courses
If you're a Thrive Themes member, you have access to Thrive Apprentice, which is perfect for building an online course on your own platform.
If you don't have a WordPress site and you're on a shorter runway, consider using all-in-one solutions like:
- Podia - this comes with everything from a simple site builder to email marketing features. You need your own Stripe and/or PayPal account to integrate with it.
- Teachable - course creation & selling platform with built in payment processing.
- Udemy - course platform & marketplace. Potential to reach customers if you don't have your own audience, but they take a huge chunk of your sales & there's generally price dumping on the platform.
For selling things online in general, consider using a merchant of record service. This basically means that the legal entity selling your products is the platform you use, not you or your business. This is legally and administratively much simpler than a setup in which you are the merchant. Solutions include:
- Gumroad - mainly for selling simple ebooks and downloadables. Very simple, limited but easy to use.
- Digistore24 - sales platform and affiliate marketplace for any kind of online product.
- FastSpring or MyCommerce - more complex, more advanced online selling platform that act as merchants of record.
One thing many online teaching and business solutions have in common is that they use video in one form or another. Whether it's video and audio streamed for live events, workshops and classes or pre-recorded video content in an online course.
I've updated my recommended video gear guide. If you're a subscriber, you can access it for free in my course area. Or you can sign up here to get free access to the guide.
Video, Part 2
Timestamps for the second video:
- 00:33 - My experience building a business during a recession.
- 02:40 - Prepare to get uncomfortable. And make it count.
- 06:19 - Use strategic pessimisim & raise your standards when evaluating new business ideas.
- 09:49 - The opportunities lie in counter-intuitive action.
- 12:59 - Now is the time to do "local good".
- 16:42 - My filter bubble has been doing great. Yours?
Here are some resources that I believe can help you get ahead.
- The Customer First Approach - perhaps more important now than ever before. This is a series of podcast episodes we recorded on a method we recommend for getting a rapid start to an online income source. Part 1, part 2, part 3.
- The Ultimate Guide to Starting an Online Business - super thorough and completely free information on how to start a course-based business from scratch.
- The Ultimate Guide to Freelance Digital Marketing - super thorough guide to turning your online marketing knowledge into a business.
Your Questions & Comments
Now it's up to you: please let me know what questions you have and what further resources would help you out. I'm dedicated to helping small businesses get through this. So is the team over at Thrive Themes, by the way. If you aren't subscribed to the Thrive Themes newsletter, I recommend you do that. We'll be doing what we can to be of service during these difficult times.
Also, if you know of any tools and resources you think I should add to the lists above, please let me know!
Once again…thank you for being a true leader! Helping with action steps and not agitating the panic and paranoia that is so pervasive in these unusual times…
I’m amazed at how quickly you have assembled this excellent resource, especially the video! (I know you’ve had lots of practice, but still… It’s impressive! :D)
I’m looking forward to your updated video tools list…
Personally, I wish I could add something of help for everyone who follows you!
Looking forward to reading feedback from this community! <3
Thank you very much for your support, Karen!
Smart & timely strategies for this hard time in history.
Thank you so much for sharing! This will give me a lot of food for thought.
Many of my enterprise clients are now asking for tools for online meetings and recruiting (virtual fairs & events).
I understand if that is not something you would want to talk about since you target online entrepreneurs and influencers.
For these letter groups, wouldn’t it be helpful for those who are short on time, rather than building on real estate they don’t own, if you can put a few “fast implementation” short & quick videos on how to set a minimalist self-hosted website on WP using only the minimum Thrive Themes tools?
Just Thrive Architect, Leads & Apprentice with Calendly, Zoom & Paypal?
Or maybe this can be a sharable download template or theme that affiliates can spread the word about with their audiences too.
Thanks and stay safe! We still need you for more time :) Cheers
Thank you for the suggestion! Together with the Thrive Themes marketing team, we’re looking at all the options of what we can do in terms of content, tutorials etc. to help people out.
That’s a piece of smokin’ good content right there Shane!
Rapid implementation and tweak from there…
Proactive boots on the ground approach, that’s how I roll too!
Thank you, Justin!
Thanks Shane for the great input.
With all the downsizes of this situation a lot of us tend to panic and blame and do all this kind of stuff.
But personaly I am more willing to see this whole as an opportunity. Don’t get me wrong here, it is a hard time and I feel sorry for everyone who gets hurts in any way.
So what is the situation for each and everyone personally. For me it is that I now have more time. I don’t need to drive around since I can do my work from my home office. I don’t have anywhere to go at the weekends since all activities are cancelled.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not like it at all. But this is the situation we are in now.
So with all the time I “gained” I can do more on my website which I just started and I can learn a lot of new stuff.
I am sure I will find it somewhere on your site, but what I really like to see is a video about all the points and aspect regarding a good affiliate marketing site.
Thanks again for your input. Looking forward to you next video
Nothing wrong with looking for the positives in a bad situation. We all need to make the best of it and do what we can to keep each other safe.
Some realistic advice. While we’re in difficult times, many great things have evolved during these times. People find innovative ways to prosper, and that is something we all need.
Yes indeed! Thank you for your comment.
Shane, I was going to launch my course in a couple of weeks. No clue how/if the virus will have an effect on sales. I was seeing it as an experiment anyways. Thanks for the video. Important to keep a positive mental attitude.
Yep, best to go ahead with it. I’ve heard all kinds from fellow entrepreneurs. Some businesses have dropped off a cliff, others are doing great and others are going the same as before. Best way to find out if the crisis affects your course is to launch it! :)
I agree with your statement to stay in your lane. I don’t know why many online teachers and sellers think they have to complicate becoming an entrepreneur. They can’t be a valuable expert in all topics yet that’s what they try to sell.
The simplicity of focus of your videos and products works! So does your expertise you share that drives your products. I have a Thrive membership and can’t imagine business without it. To me, the Thrive products learning curves are consistently easier than using other WordPress themes and products after mastering the first Thrive product.
I am not a coder or designer but totally self taught since I decided I could learn to build a website and business online in 1998. And, I work solo!
Thanks for all you share, Shane!
Thank you for your comment! Your feedback about the Thrive Themes tools is great to see! Very encouraging. :)
Thanks for the post. Very useful.
Would you mind expanding on the use of ‘ a merchant of record services’ for selling online courses as you recommend on this post vs the sendowl set up you recommended in coursecraft. Is sendowl considered a more long term play or is this simply an updated recommendation?
SendOwl is still a good pick. It isn’t a merchant of record, but it does have a built in tax compliance system, so it doesn’t require a third party tool for that. A merchant of record service can be even simpler, but it depends on what you want to sell and what you want to integrate with. I’m interested in integrating an MoR service with Thrive Apprentice in the future and at that point, I’d update my recommendation. But we haven’t found the “perfect” solution yet.
For now, the right tool depends on your specific needs.
many thanks for sharing Your great content.
I am using Thrive Themes for a long time.In Your Post You recommend Digistore24. Is there any possibility to connect Apprentice directly? I use WL Member, which works fine. But having an easier method would be great.
We don’t have a direct integration yet. We do have it on our roadmap for a future release, though.
Do you know if it will be built this year or more likely next year?
The Digistore24 integration with Thrive Apprentice would be a complete gamechanger!
It would mean that we could completely AUTOMATE the whole accounting process. And as Digistore24 is also available in English now, it would be the perfect solution for everyone who doesn’t want to spend hours writing invoices every month..
PLUS we could use the Digistore24 affiliate system and have affiliates promote our courses.. that would be HUGE!
Ah, I am getting excited here..
I have been looking for an automated paid online course solution for 2 years now, always wanted to use Thrive Apprentice but never started because of the tech challenges..
Thank you so much for your amazing work!
Since years I am impressed.. ongoing..
Unfortunately, I can’t share further details yet. But I agree that integrating with a system like Digistore would be a great step up.
I keep praying it comes fast.. ;)
Thanks for the thoughtful article and the gear update for video studio. Unfortunately, most of the items you recommend are not currently available on amazon.fr and are listed on amazon.com as not deliverable to France.
[with the exception of the Zoom H1 – which I already have]
It is not clear whether the items which are ‘not currently available’ on amazon.fr are temporarily out of stock due to coronavirus situation or for another reason.
That’s the wonder of globalization.
I see. I’ve also had the experience of not being able to get camera and studio gear in Europe. It’s definitely easier in the USA.
Having said that, you can usually find some equivalent alternative. For example, the light I use is ultimately an LED video light with a soft box. There are many manufacturers that make such lights and while they do vary in quality and price, at the end of the day, they’re all just lights.
Same goes for the mini shotgun mic: there are loads of manufacturers and loads of models to choose from. So, I’d encourage you to look around for equivalent products. Also, check to see if there are any big online retailers in France that specialize in camera gear. They may have things in stock that are harder to find on Amazon.
As a professional film maker I have been looking for such a solution for several years.
A year ago I found the perfect light for filming – an LED with 10.000 lux, can be powered by USB-C (can be powered by powerbank), costs only 39 Euro and fits in every hand luggage. Its light weight , can be dimmed and doesn’t flicker. It even has 3 different color temperatures:
(no affiliate link)
I have put it into a tablet holder, mounted on a lightweight tripod (Rollei Traveler Star).
Its a daylight lamp that also helps to reduce winter depression. I have sold my big soft boxes now and am VERY happy with this lamp.
There are several similar lights.. I chose this one because of the possibility to power it via powerbank.
Hope that helps! :)
Thanks for the light info… <3
I work solo & — of course in lockdown here in Southern California — so I’ll be looking for an ‘out-of-the-way’ location in my home to do videos…at least for the time being (and who knows how long that will be???), ideally a location that I can leave set up without having to break everything down in between video-recording… The big lights on stands would really have been cumbersome for me, so your light recommendation is awesome! A table-top light is actually perfect! :D And…with multiple ways a to mount! WooHoo! I honestly didn’t know anything like this existed! :-o
[It’s funny because when I clicked the link it opened up the ‘Amazon.de’ site (I forget that there are multiple “stores” in multiple countries ;-) LoL!) but I’m sure I can find something similar here in the US!]
Southern California sounds great, it’s a long time since I’ve been there.. :)
Haha, I also didn’t know something like that existed.
You don’t wanna know how much time I spent on research..
The light doesn’t have mount options itself, but any tablet mount that is big enough should work.
So my light recommendation would be:
2 lights, 2 tablet mounts, 2 rolei traveler star tripods (cost around 15 Euro = around 18 $). Total is around 120$.
Make one lamp brighter than the other, that way it looks natural (with sunlight 1 side of the face is always brighter as well). Always put them on eye level or a little above.
And you are done!
Here in Germany I use the lights constantly in the winter because of the darkness.. in your place you probably won’t need it.
Setting the lights up takes me 1 minute, so its also no big deal if you don’t have a permanent setup.
Thanks so much, Thomas for sharing your complete lighting setup! <3
It took me quite some time — with the 'right' search terms in my Amazon app — to find a model with the USB connection! Quite surprising, actually (to me!)… I did locate one finally and ordered 1 light, but if it works well, I can always get the 2nd one (Amazon makes it so easy to re-order! ;-) LoL!)
Yes…I'm located in the "high desert" of SoCal, about 60 miles north of LA… We have lots of sun, as you can imagine! Good thing because I could never live in places with lots of rain and clouds! :-o
[Today we're actually in a weird unseasonable "heat wave" for the next several days… Triple digits (Fahrenheit) in the forecast! I think that's in the 40's C!]
This is brilliant! I never thought of using something like this as a video light, but it makes perfect sense. :)
I am happy that after YEARS of using Thrive Themes & getting a lot of inspiration from you I am able to give back (at least a little bit..).
Thanks for continuing to be a great and invaluable support. Regarding having access to updates on your “Document in Progress”, if we are already subscribers, will we get notifications automatically? I have tried to sign-up for the updates just in case but the notification says my name and email is already used and my existing password does not work. Thanks, just checking.
Shane, when I watch your videos I feel like I’m in the best possible hands to guide me through this current situation. I love your perspective, your clear thinking and your completely practical advice always. Thank you for offering all of this content for free. You’ve now inspired me to offer a free webinar to my contacts based on how to approach buying property in this climate. So glad that my friend, Maryse, introduced me to your work. Keep going. You are inspiring!
Shane it is so AWESOME to have you back in my podcast stream. I’ve missed you. Thanks for all you do.
Thank you, Todd!