Please state your name, your position, and about your Business.
I’m Angel Pretot and I’m the business owner and French learning coach at frenchfluency.net
What are the challenges you met all the way to what you and your business now?
I first created this business when I got fired in 2016, after experiencing discrimination and harassment in the workplace, as an LGBT person and a foreigner (I’m French and that was in Germany).
That was completely illegal, but there was nothing I could do about it. That was also the second time in six months. I was very run down by this experience and I knew I just wasn’t healthy enough to get another job and risk repeating the experience again. So getting a regular job was off the table, at least for a few years.
The only source of income I had left was the few language classes I had been giving via italki, a platform that allows you to find language tutors online.
So I knew it was possible to make money teaching online. I went all-in with it for a while, but I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to make a good living this way on the long run (The platform meant that all providers had to compete on price, and a European cannot afford to compete on price with a growing numbers of third world inhabitants, who just don’t have the same costs of living).
In the meantime, I had discovered that some people did make a good living online. They had their own website and their own business. So I started to learn how to do it. I had no job, so all I had was time. I learned relentlessly.
My ex-wife put together a simple website for me, and I started learning about content marketing, copy-writing, making videos, social media, etc. The list of things to learn was potentially endless. At first, it didn’t frighten me because I had a lot of time and I’ve always been an avid learner. I also didn’t really know what I was getting into.
One of the big mistakes I made was believing that I could rely on free content and never need to invest in anything. I lost a lot of time this way. It’s true that you can find everything for free online, but it’s not worth the time and effort you waste doing it. For free, you will find people who tell you to do a million things, generally without any order and even contradicting advice. Way to burn yourself out.
A major turning point for me was when I started investing in online courses. They may come with a hefty price tag, but the good ones are worth so much more than what they cost.
Thanks to some of these courses, I learned how to define a target market, create unique offers that these people will want, charge higher prices, and use my unique personality to serve my clients better.
Here are some good courses that I took and which made a huge difference in my business (I’m not affiliated to them, they’re just great): Courtney Chaal’s Yay for Clients, Marie Forleo’s B-school, Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula, Denise-Duffield Thomas’s Money Bootcamp.
Thanks to these courses, I came up with the idea to blend together my profession as a French teacher and my passion for personal growth.
That’s when I started calling myself a French learning coach (a profession that didn’t exist before!). I realized that, in order to learn a language, you need a specific mindset and an efficient strategy. As far as I know, no other language learning professional in the world takes this into account. Most of them focus on teaching the mechanics of the language exclusively. This explains why so many language learners just fail.
When I explain this to my potential clients, it just clicks. They realize that they are perfectly able to learn French. They just have been going at it the wrong way, sometimes for years. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter that my price is higher than other options because they know that with me, they’ll actually get the results that they want.
That’s when the rubber hit the road and my business started taking off.
I would never have come up with this without investing so much time, effort and money in my own personal growth.
I created a process which I called Your Roadmap to Fluency. It consists of analyzing a client’s situation and creating a French learning plan for them, that takes into account their unique personality, needs, and goals.
This is work that I do in 1-1 coaching. Working with these personal plans, I am able to help my clients get results so much faster than they would with any other French learning method or class.
It worked so well that I later decided to adopt the process into a group experience, The French Fluency Accelerator. In that program, I have created workshops that walk the student through the process step by step, so they can create their own plan.
With that, two things have happened: suddenly my own time isn’t needed to help every single student. This means that I can now take an unlimited number of students into my program. I have created a community around this course (in a Facebook group). Students benefit so much from seeing others who are going through the same thing and I get to give guidance to a larger group. The community is super supportive of each other and so inspiring for me.
I love that I now get to show up for these people every day and that I have proven my concept beyond any doubt. It makes it so much easier to market my services and my program, now that I have a bunch of reviews that prove that it works.
How did you manage to market your business and compete with other agencies in your niche?
There aren’t really any other agencies in my niche. I’m the only person offering a method that uses personal growth concepts and tools to learn French. I don’t consider the other French learning “solutions” as “competitors” but rather as the people who prepare my ideal clients for me. I can say without bragging that I offer by far the best French learning solution available online – you can just check my reviews and testimonials.
The other companies in this market segment are way better at marketing than me but terrible at delivering results. This creates a situation where my ideal customers have already tried a bunch of underwhelming options by the time they come across me, which makes them receptive to my message. Typically they find me via google, youtube, Facebook or Pinterest. They stumble upon some of my content either by chance or after relentlessly looking for a solution. My content stands out because it’s about the only content they’ve seen which makes a lot of sense, offers a genuine solution, and does not make impossible promises such as “getting fluent in 2 weeks”.
I also have a lot of content online already because I have been doing this for several years. This allows me to either build trust overtime as people follow me for a long time before signing up with me, or build trust quickly when people first find me because they see that I have a long track record already.
They understand that I am not likely to take their money and never be seen again. I’m probably the real deal. The numerous reviews, testimonial and case studies also help with this. The more I work, create content and collect reviews, the easier it gets to market my business and get new clients.
Contrary to popular belief, building an online business is a long game. It’s almost impossible to get online and make a quick buck. But you can build a very profitable business in the long run.
What Best Practices can you share to our startup readers?
If you are thinking of starting an online business, here are some tips I can give you. These are things I wish I knew sooner. I would have saved so much time and headaches.
- Find out who you want to serve and create an offer that solves a specific problem these people have. Make sure that it’s very easy for you to solve that problem with your offer.
- Have your own website, blog and email list. Social media can be a great marketing tool but remember that you have to play by their rules. They can delete your profile if they want. Don’t give them the option to take your business away at the same time.
- Learn relentlessly. On the internet, things change all the time. If you’re not willing to learn, you’re doomed.
- Invest in good courses. If you can’t afford them right now, read books instead. I have learned a lot from books too. Denise-Duffield Thomas’s Chillpreneur is a great starting point to build an online business without burning yourself out.
- Don’t assume that people are successful just because they have a shiny profile and a “big following”. How good you look on Instagram and how much money you make is totally unrelated.
- Don’t imitate what “everyone else” is doing. If they all look the same, it’s probably a sign that they aren’t that successful. Success comes because your ideal clients are attracted to your uniqueness.
- Find out what works for you, and do more of it. Ditch what’s not working.
- Assume that there can be a way to make things easier for yourself, and find it. If you can’t find an easier way or you can’t afford it, roll up your sleeves and do the work.
- Work on your mindset all the time. It’s the one thing that makes all other things easier.
- No matter what happens, don’t make excuses. You can always find a way to make things work, but making excuses will shut down this option.
- Don’t dismiss something because it doesn’t fit your current worldview. Your worldview and mindset are bound to change as you build and grow your business. Several “woo-woo” practices that I thought were bogus actually turned out to be life-changing for me. Be curious and open-minded.
Please list your social media URLs