B-School Review: What it’s like on the inside & how to make the most of it
So you’re thinking of joining B-School? I take it that you’re reading every B-School review online you can get your hands on? I hear yeh, that was me too.
Gal, I know. B-School is quite the business investment, so it can be a tough decision.
To help you in your decision making I’ll be giving you an insider look at what going through B-School is like. (Because that’s what I really wanted to hear when I was considering enrolling!)
B-School has 6 modules spaced over 8 weeks. I took notes at the end of every week to share with you in this post, to give you a feel for what each week looked like. I’ll also let you in on what was happening in the B-School Facebook group, as well as my personal business breakthroughs.
I’m also going to share some advice for anyone who decides to buy B-School, as there’s a couple things I did which I would wholeheartedly recommend to other new B-Schoolers!
Week 1: Profit plan
This module gets the foundations of your business set. You’ll be taught all about getting clear on your business vision, your ideal clients, figure out just how you’ll make the moula, how to set your brand/product/service up as a premium offering, and how brand storytelling will set your business apart.
Notes & Takeaways:
From the very beginning of deciding to do B-School I knew I wanted to join a Mastermind with other B-Schoolers. Having been in a Mastermind previously, I knew how helpful they could be. But, with over 3,000 people in the Facebook group, I didn’t want to post publicly, as I’d likely have a mastermind of a few hundred people.
I decided to creep through the Facebook group members list and find some girls who were in similar, service-based businesses and ask if they’d like to Mastermind with me. Both Courtney from Oso Social Media and Kadie from Drop Cap Design were happy to join me, and we decided we’d chat weekly to discuss the lessons and how to apply them to our businesses.
After doing the Ideal Client Avatar exercise of Module 1 I felt confident with my ICA, until I got on the Mastermind call that was. On the call I came to the realization that my ICA lacked depth.
I knew her hair color, but an ICA with brown hair is only helpful to me if I’m selling hair dye, not website design services.
I realized both Courtney and Kadie knew their ICA on a much deeper level, and truly had an understanding of her thoughts, fears, worldview, and person as a whole. After getting off the Mastermind call it became pretty clear I had to go back to the drawing board and start my ICA exercise over again.
Also on the first call the gals came to my rescue with something on an exercise sheet I just couldn’t figure out myself. After learning my strengths, and my ideal clients needs, I couldn’t find a concrete way to merge them together.
When presented with my problem, Katie and Courtney could see so easily how to merge the two, because they were on the outside. After getting off the first Mastermind call I definitely left thinking ‘damn that was a good decision’ and ‘I would totes be besties with both of these two!’
Between B-School and reading Carrie Green’s She Means Business book, I realized just how important brand values are. It seemed to take a combination of the Module 1 lesson and reading Carrie’s book to really knock the sense into me.
I purchase items and support businesses because they align with my values, why would anyone else be any different?
I have personal values, but I hadn’t defined any for my brand. I realized it was time to settle on values and make them public for the world to see.
In this module Marie also asked us to interview some ICA’s. Terrifying I know. But, having invested a couple grand and my business dreams into the course, I wasn’t about to skip out on my part of the work. I sucked it up, and emailed my list asking for responses if subscribers met a list of criteria.
Right before my first ICA call while chatting with my boyfriend over dinner I told him ‘I have a feeling I already know what she’ll answer to my questions.’ Boy was I wrong!
While she did say a lot of what I figured, I got to know her more deeply than I ever imagined.
I had SO much fun chatting on the phone to her, we hit it off immediately, and laughed our way through discussing our super-nerdy interests in online business. I realized on so many occasions that what she would want in her website designer, I was already doing! But that wasn’t coming across on my website at all!
Red flag. I knew after getting off the call the copy on my website was going to need an overhaul.
Week 2: Website
Week 2 is the Website module. You’re taught all about which website platform to choose, how to optimize your site for sales, and kill it in the SEO department.
Notes & Takeaways:
A handful of Bschoolers in the Facebook started having a right freak out at this point. Websites and technology, an area many have little knowledge in and therefore find extremely overwhelming, began to realize just how challenging getting a business up and running can be.
The website module, in just week 2, left a handful of B-Schoolers in full on meltdown mode.
Granted, I don’t think this is B-Schools fault, I see people having heart attacks over websites all the time. It’s normally my job as a designer to bring out the brown garbage bag and tell them I’ll hold their hand every step of the way.
Thank god as a website designer, I literally just breezed through the worksheets saying ‘yep, yep, done that, yep.’
I do think the module was still valuable, because I was able to compare what I do to the best practices as set out by Marie, so it instilled confidence I was doing things correctly, and I did gather a couple tips here on there of how to optimize stuff for the best possible conversions.
Just as in the previous week though, I realized my real issue with my site was my copy. My copy didn’t properly reflect the voice & feeling I wanted to convey, so I was in brainstorming mode of how to go about solving this problem.
On my mastermind call while discussing my tag line, Courtney correctly pointed out that I was using the term ‘passion project,’ which might not be the best fit.
The term ‘passion project’ made sense for someone who is part time hustling at something, but doesn’t properly reflect the full time, established for a year or two business owners who were most likely to hire me.
I decided I needed to drop the term ‘passion project’ from my tag line and find another descriptor for my ideal clients businesses.
Week 3: Communication
Week 3 was all about content marketing. Why its important, and how to do it correctly. The module included recommendations on where and how frequently to post, as well as how to post in a way that sets your product or service up as the perfect option for your ideal client to buy. (Genius!)
Notes & Takeaways:
Having already previously decided that content marketing was the way I was going to grow my business, I was all revved up for this lesson! While I watched the lesson on why it’s important, I was already convinced of that, no one needed to tell me that twice!
As I was mapping out my content plans for the 2nd ICA I had created after my kinda shallow first ICA, I realized I had 0 excitement or interesting in writing to them, so maybe ICA #2 really wasn’t it after all.
Back to the drawing board I went and pulled out my ICA sheets from module 1, for the 3rd time.
After I wrote ICA #3, I was all excited.
I knew she was really truly exactly who I wanted to work with, who I wouldn’t get sick of in the long-run, who I felt I could truly be a game changer for her business.
I shared it with my boyfriend. His response? ‘Does that person even need a Squarespace website designer?’
I was crushed, and a little angry all day with him for ruining my dreams.
After discussing it with my Mastermind, Courtney came up with an amazing idea. I shared her ideas in this post: 3 ways to validate your ideal client avatar.
At this point, I came to the realization that you’ll move a whole lot of nowhere fast if you don’t nail down ICA from the beginning.
It is the absolute foundation & most important part of a business, and Marie is right to start with it and really hammer home JUST how important it is.
You really can’t complete the rest of the course without figuring out the ICA bit.
In this lesson I was lucky to already have down a solid blogging plan so that needed no changing. However I wasn’t so sure about the email marketing piece.
Thankfully B-School gave some examples of different types of emails for different purposes and I was able to settle on which type of email newsletter would be best for my business. I had been kind of against doing a blog post in an email type newsletter, feeling that I was being cheap on content, and should provide my email list something amazing and novel each week.
When in reality what happened when I attempted to do that was put a boatload of pressure on myself, and consistently miss email send dates.
I also realized that very few readers come back to my blog twice a week to see what new content I posted (let’s be real - y’all have lives, I get it) so I was basically robbing subscribers of that great content.
I settled on going the ‘send part of a blog post’ as an email route, to help drive subscribers back to my website, and show them there’s new and exciting articles to read!
Of course I still value my subscribers *ahem Biz Besties* highly, so I make sure they still get special perks.
Biz besties always get the heads up before anyone else when new products are released, I invite them for access to be Beta testers for upcoming products and services, and of course, I go to them first when I want to get in touch with ICA’s for insight. I then always try to thank them for their time with any advice and answers to any website questions they have - fo’ free.
Marie laid out a super in-depth, and honestly massively complex system for ensuring your articles have great SEO, but I haven’t put it to use yet. It would really take a longggg time to implement, but I realize it might well be worth it.
The last thing I did this week, which wasn’t required, but I decided to be a keener student and go for it anyways, was write out a 1 page blogging & email marketing cheat sheet.
There was a lot of info collected on my B-School worksheets that was valuable, but I figured I’d rarely refer to it while I was hammering out a blog post or email, so I summarized it all into one easily digestible sheet instead!
Week 4: Implementation week
This week was a little time to catch up on anything still needing to be done from past modules.
I spent my implementation week designing a new opt-in gift, and listening in on the B-School calls. I admit I was a bit surprised when they weren’t webinar, and the system used seemed straight out of the early 2000’s, complex and confusing. I would have liked to have asked a question, but I was totally confused as to how you called in, so that was a shame.
Week 5: List building
Week 5 covered list building, including both marathon and sprint options for growing your email list. The module covers some specific and straightforward methods to grow an email list, both free options and paid through Facebook ads.
Notes & Takeaways:
I realized that I should give a popup a second chance. After Google announced it would be penalizing sites for them, I erred on the side of caution and took my popup down, even though it was indeed doing amazing things for my email subscriber growth.
I learned from the lesson that I could indeed use a popup without killing my Google rank, so I went for it, and it’s back up now!
I decided that I needed to revamp my opt-ins to perfectly fit the needs of my new ICA, and keep them more focused on the topic of Squarespace. Thankfully, my Mastermind came to the rescue and let me know some stuff they thought would be super valuable opt-in gifts for my ICA. It resulted in my new 'Start Your Squarespace Website Workbook!'
Meanwhile in the Facebook group … people were all over the place. Some B-Schoolers were only just getting around to introducing themselves, some were still on the ICA exercise from module 1, others were sharing wins, and others were still all overwhelmed with websites and technology.
B-Schoolers really ran a range from killing it to clueless.
Week 6: Offerings
Week 6 covered the stuff you sell, your offerings! The lesson went over deciding on your offerings, how to position offerings in the market, how to ensure your offerings wowed at every stage of the sales process, and more.
Notes & Takeaways:
I got behind with B-School with family visiting from abroad, and both my Mastermind girls did too for different reasons. When we went to get on our call, none of us had finished the lesson!
I learned that keeping up for all the weeks of B-School is an absolute marathon. Even those with the best of intentions will likely fall behind at some point.
Having learned in the lesson about offering an amazing customer experience, I decided that I want to up my game, in every step of the sales process.
I came up with some ideas to make what I offer even more enjoyable, every step of the way (Before/During/After).
For the Before stage I decided to send client gifts to each newly booked client.
I chose to use BoxFox, and fill the gift boxes with items to help them prep for launch (a bottle opener, pens, notebook, and another fun item that is specific to the client - eg. earplugs for someone who has a baby).
I also decided it was time to rebrand & rewrite my Welcome PDF to ensure it fits with my brand, and fill it with lots of wording that’s fun and friendly, as I want my brand to feel.
I also settled on recording the video lesson I give to each client so they can refer back to it later.
Week 7: Marketing
In what Marie terms ‘modern marketing’ she goes through the principles of marketing, pricing strategy, and how to stop your potential clients/customers from procrastinating on your offer.
Notes & Takeaways:
This lesson was focused heavily on getting your message across in an authentic, non-douchy way.
It touched a lot on copy and gave a fantastic example of a sales letter, explaining why it worked so well. There were also a TUN of other resources, books, videos, and courses linked in the course. While Marie is a marketing expert, and gave a solid foundation, she encouraged lifelong learning on this one specifically.
As I had been doing, I added more bits to my to do list for the future, because there is just NO way to complete the lesson & them implement the practices at the same time.
I know a lot of the resources in this lesson are valuable, but I feel I have a lot of work to get through in past modules before I can get to the work from this one.
B-School is a content-heavy course, with lots of ideas on how to up your business game. The biggest challenge is prioritizing the time to get around to all of it!
B-School gives a clear roadmap and explains the high-level strategy of how to make your business a success. The list of alumni who are killing it online is huge. The lessons show you exactly where to go, and what to start building on first, second, third, etc.
B-School is a mammoth! Freaking huge, honestly. My binder is a giant, and the amount of information is crazy.
Granted, B-School, being as comprehensive as it is, made me realize just how much more there is to learn.
After B-School I decided to join a membership site to get more in-depth training on specific topics. B-School can't get specific on everything, so I liked the idea of having in-depth courses on certain business topics in a membership club.
I choose Carrie Green's Female Entrepreneur Association for a membership site and have been really enjoying going into all the bundles that cover almost all of the business areas I was looking for more detailed how-to's for.
Realizing that I needed copy guidance, I considered hiring a copywriter and was searching one out throughout the weeks of B-School. At one point I came to the realization however that I'm going to be writing copy for the rest of my entrepreneur life.
Blog posts, emails, sales pages, website copy, social media posts, etc. I probably write copy as often as I design websites to be completely honest.
Deciding that I didn't want to pay a copywriter for the rest of my life, I was ready to take up the challenge and learn myself. I just enrolled in Ashlyn Carter's Copywriting for Creatives course, and am just diving into the content now.
How to make the most of B-School
1. Find a mastermind group! Fo’ reals. If there was one thing that will guarantee your success, and that you actually make it through the trenches of the insane workload, it’s a small group that’s counting on you to have done the lesson before the call.
It’s safe to say I think we all really enjoyed our time discussing our businesses together, and how to apply the lessons to each of us individually. It’s hard to know the right answer when you don’t have a coach specifically saying ‘do this,’ so having a mastermind is a fab alternative if you aren’t ready to put up the money for a professional coach.
Tip: If you decide to go the Mastermind route, be sure you pick people in similar-ish timezones. I had found some amazing gals in Australia I would have loved to invite to join in the Mastermind. However, I was in Europe for a few weeks of B-School and having to find a suitable time for people in America, Europe and Australia didn’t seem like a good idea.
2. Buy a binder. Print the sheets. Fill them out by hand. Keep them all together, and in order.
3. Put copy post-its throughout the binder. These indicate any line where you wrote something that is hellah-copy worthy.
4. Write out a list of To Do’s from B-School instead of stopping the course for every task. It will be impossible to keep up with the course and do all the work at the same time. Example, it tends to take weeks or months for most people to launch a new website, so if you stopped, most people would be stuck on module 2 for a good portion of a year.
I hope that helped y'all make your decision! If you have a B-School question, leave me a comment friend and I'm happy to give any insight and advice I can!