Sunday, September 18, 2016

Export Teaching

 at 7:49 PM, AP wrote:
Hello John,

I hope you are well. I have a question about contracts. Currently my business model is to hire teachers for my language learning online classes. When I receive a student who pays for the class upfront and the class has been given by the teacher, I will then pay the teacher. First of all, in your honest opinion, does this sound like a good business model?
*** What I worry about is trying to manage control.  too much control and then your work is lawyers and lawsuits, not teaching.  What are your really selling?  You students for teachers.  What is the simplest model for you to get paid for getting teachers their students?  (Or do you get students their teachers?)***
I am developing a website currently, but the biggest thing that is holding me back in hiring teachers is a contract. I am unsure whether I should have a non compete clause in my contract for the teacher, so that the teacher will not open up a business like mine on their own.
***Well, only you would set up a business like yours, someone would try to steal your customers because they thought your business was not quite right approach.  There is the real problem, not that they steal your customers because you are so good, but they think they have a better way.  If they are right you lose.  West Coast judges, and I, are very much against non-compete clauses.***
Also, I want the students to stay doing their studies with this business and not go somewhere else. In my experience, teachers can ask students if they would rather take the class with them and cut out the middle man(me). I have been asked that by my teacher in the online classes I take for foreign language. Is this something that should be addressed in a teacher's contract?
*** Not sure you can effectively write a contract that binds a student to you.  Better to hold free people by solving their problems than alienate people by controlling them.***
I hate to use the plan B model in my business but I think usually the nature of this business, is to get customers online who are already looking online for non credited foreign language classes and they come across my website on a search engine.
***For some 6 percent of the market.  Maybe you should be marketing at brick and mortar, that is to say figure out how to snail mail enrollment offers to the 94% who want online classes but do not find what they want online.****
I also am concerned about contracts for my students and how to set those up. What should the contract include that my students sign when they enroll for the class? For example, should it say that they will not share my software with anyone?
*** I pioneered online noncredit classes to colleges and have open sourced everything I have, including my class content and my copyrighted books.  Most schools have me sign one-off contracts simply so they can pay me, and some I have no contract at all.  None of these schools contract a student.  Of the 500 or so online schools started since I started teaching online back in the early 1990s (yes, with AOL), none have survived, except for a few in bankruptcy one way or another.    I personally know a fellow who made millions who started at the same time as I, since he had another model with all those contracts etc.  But he made his money selling out, and his work is now bankrupt, and unlikely to work for anyone else.***
The website is looking great so far.
***Is that what your customers say?***
I am excited to get my first students through the website soon. By the way, I am teaching an English class to Chinese students who live in Shanghai right now through video conferencing. It is a lot of fun. I hope everything is well with you.
***All is well, and I thank you for contacting me.  I think you need to figure out what it is you are selling, and then figure out how best to sell just that.  The model strikes me as unwieldy,   It will be massive work....  figure out who your customers are, then you'll know you've got the right model when it serves your passion, you get to do the fun and happy work you want to do...***

JohnFeel free to forward this by email to three of your friends.