MODEL 5: “Consultant and advisory” websites
If your imagination has been already exhausted by inventing different ideas, products, and systems for the previous business models, you should take a rest because you will need it here again.
Although new internet entrepreneurs may find it strange, the internet is not a place where everything is necessarily virtual and one can make fast and easy profit from things that are hard to be explained to their grandparents. Just on the contrary – the internet hides an unlimited resource for making money from countless activities connected with the real world.
Recently, I searched for piano lessons and I came across this website, which offered an online training course. If until recently this activity used to be associated with an auntie sitting right next to you, slapping your wrists with a sharp pencil to teach you to keep your hands in the proper position over the piano keys, now you have the chance to do it online, without the supervision of a teacher, without any concerns and without feeling embarrassed that you may give up on it after four or five visits. The lessons are divided into groups for beginners and advanced students and they are offered in the form of video clips.
Over the years I have advised several people into creating websites where they can share their professional experience in a concrete field. Without any exception, everyone I proposed this model to immediately responded with questions of the type: “Why should I share my experience and knowledge with online consumers? I earn my living with this, and this way I will bring myself extra competition? If people see how these things are done, they will do them on their own and they will not come to me as clients.”
To some great extent, all these arguments and questions seem grounded with regard to the fact that you have been amassing this knowledge for years, while people commanding your services pay you exactly because you have the required knowledge and priceless experience. If you share this for free, there is a great risk of losing everything that makes you competitive on the market. But is that really true?
Pianolessons.com clearly realizes that the website is perfect for amateurs, who do not have the ambition of becoming professional musicians. They will be happy to experiment, press the piano keys, and even learn some tunes, but that is all. However, if you wish to send your kid to piano lessons or start serious courses, you are aware that you will need individual lessons. This is what this business model is based on – the teachers offer individual piano courses, while the website is simply one of the means they use to stir your enthusiasm and interest in the courses, personally introduce themselves to you, and show you how they work. They do not lose anything if you are just some amateurs; but if you are serious, the information they offer for free will not be enough and eventually, you will address them as a personal teacher.
You may say that this can be valid for the piano lessons but not for your very own business and you will be absolutely wrong. There are countless examples. There are numerous websites offering detailed information about coronarography and how to put a stent but people are only reading the information on the issue and no one performs a heart surgery on themselves on their own, at least because they do not have the needed tools and materials.
If a certain website provides you with detailed information about how to change the timing belt and any other part of the vehicle, you will probably focus on the replacement of a certain filter or bulb, while although you have learned online how it is done, you will leave the more complicated tasks to experts, who have won your trust thanks to their honesty and professionalism. The registration of a non-profit non-government organization (NGO) is a very easy process if you see it described on a website.
That is what I thought, too, and a few years ago I went through the whole process on my own, without paying to the lawyers, who wrote the free article on the issue. It turned out that the procedures were so irritating and confusing that even if you have met the requirements at 100%, the civil servants will bother you fetching different handbills from one desk to another at the court for several weeks until you finally obtain the sacred documents… The outcome was that I lost several days running back and forth, waiting, correcting documents and “just a single” act on an administrative violation because of being unaware of some of the procedures that supplemented the registration of the NGO in question. The truth is that back then I did it on my own, but if I have to go through this entire bureaucratic hell again, I will be pleased to hire a lawyer and pay a few hundred just to save myself the time, nerves, and a considerable amount of white-collar scolding.
The internet is full of websites offering pieces of advice about the optimization of your website, furnishing your apartment, changing the software of your smartphone, starting a small or medium-sized business, finding financing from business angels or European programs, stock exchange games and investments through mutual funds or Forex, homeopathic treatment, and many others. All these websites provide priceless and highly useful information for everyone, who takes the hard road of self-education in a certain field and does not have the money to pay for the service in question.
Once they have helped you, these websites become your friends and partners. And when you have financial stability and need such type of services, they will be the first to address when you need an advice and assistance or you will directly hire them to do a concrete job at least to save yourself some time.
If you want to make money while you are sleeping, this type of websites is not the best choice because these projects require you to work actively and for free for a very long time until the investment is returned. Last but not least, in this case, the profit does not go directly from the website, it comes indirectly – when the client gets in touch with you for a concrete service. It is not an easy task to develop such a website and sometimes there is a need to invest a lot of work and about a year to start attracting the attention of your potential clients. The biggest risk here is the temptation of giving up. Confucius once said: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” This maxim should be your guiding light.
If you have taken up such a project, you should not feel despair, if it does not start earning you money in the very first months. You should target a long-term goal, and you should be sure that the more persistent you are in what you are doing, the bigger the success you will enjoy in the future.