Launching a Cohort-Based Course on How to Buy a Small Business

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I finally decided to launch a cohort-based course for Indie PE on How To Buy a Small Business. In running my asynchronous course for almost a year now I see why a cohort-based course solves some of the problems I am seeing. 

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Let’s talk through them. 

Problems with asynchronous courses

Traditional self-paced recorded courses often have fewer than 5% of students complete them. My course is around 25% right now. That’s fine because many people sign up for just one template, lecture, or section and get the value they were looking for. But it still bothers me. 

There was an old joke in the 90s education space that you could send blank audio course CDs because so few students actually listened to them. Selling courses has always been more aspirational, than transformational. I want to change that. 

Many folks took my course and speak highly of it, but never take the steps or dedicated the time to actually search for a business. There are plenty of success stories, but far fewer than I would like. 

My goal is really to transform people’s lives. It seems that asynchronous courses aren’t succeeding in doing that often enough.

Why launch a cohort-based course?

The biggest reasons are community and accountability. 

In going through the process of trying to find a business together we should be able to create a community and sense of urgency. A tight-knit peer group will hold each other accountable for reaching out to owners and brokers. Give feedback on their different approaches and learn from each other. 

Searching for business is hard. It takes time and work. I’m going to focus my course around that portion of buying a business. I was hesitant to do a cohort-based course before because people get businesses under LOI and all different times. I can put people on the right path for searching though and then set them up for success for whenever the right deal comes through.

Many people are also just missing the sounding board to get feedback on deals as they find them. It is a big personal decision to buy a business (often with a personal guarantee) and I’d like for fewer people to go through it alone. 

Business school is not that different. Most of the classroom content is freely available online. MIT and Stanford have tons of awesome courses on YouTube. What you are really paying for is going through everything with peers on a similar path. What endures after graduation is the connections, not the classroom content. 

Back in my venture days, I spoke with the CEOs of all the college alternatives for sales training, vocational schools, coding, etc. Basically big cohort based courses. I'd love to see buying a business become a credible b-school alternative.

In the future, I suspect much of the content from cohort-based courses will be freely available as well. The commitment device of paying for expensive courses and community will always hold value.

Concerns about launching a cohort-based course

My biggest concern was around the time commitment and boredom. I worked hard to record and edit all these lectures already. I didn’t want to give the same ones on repeat. I’m also busy doing my own acquisitions. 

I learned I don’t have to deliver the same lectures over and over again. I can run a flipped classroom with most of the lectures watched asynchronously. Then the live sessions will be for breakout sessions and discussions on different topics. I love giving feedback and talking about deals so this sounds like great fun. It will be different everytime and shaped by the people going through the course.

Want to join me?

I'm going to test a 3-week course to help you buy your first small business and make it a success. 

You'll join live lectures with breakout discussions and Q&As with myself and other acquisition experts. You'll be part of a tight-knit peer community to hold you accountable, get feedback on sourcing and deals, and make new friends. 

This experiment will start with a small cohort of 25 people. Want to learn more?

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If you are interested in buying, growing, and selling small companies, check out my course & community on it at