Grant Aldrich – Founder of OnlineDegree – Small Business Show Episode 281

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Education is ripe for disruption. In K-12 public school systems that have bloated administration and teachers that never have enough funding to properly run their classrooms and the cost of college increasing exponentially and saddling young people with massive debt as they are just started out. Today we are excited to learn about a new way to help offset those college costs with the founder of OnlineDegree.com, Grant Aldrich.

Shannon Jean 0:00
Hey there, welcome to another episode The small business Show. I’m really excited to have you here today because we’re really excited about this guest. The timeliness of it. It’s almost like we planned it. Right? It’s, it’s, it’s almost like we planned it. Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s talking about college and non traditional paths, less expensive paths, not in person paths. I mean, all of these things are very timely, for a lot of reasons for a lot of people right now. So yeah, it’s great. I’m really looking forward to hearing what Grant has to say about his business and how he’s been impacted and how they’re, you know, adapting and, you know, learning about their Yeah, and learning about how they’re disrupting and their plan for disruption of some of the issues with higher education. I think it’s gonna be great.

Dave Hamilton 0:50
No, it is great. He He is one of those people that was sort of setup, as we all do. When we form our businesses. We look down the road and we say yes, I see future success for this thing that I’m putting together a year. And that’s not the only thing we look at. In fact, we talk a lot about looking at other factors to like, is this the right business for you? But sadly for grant, one of those things was Yeah, I see down the road that that we’re, you know, we’re going to have more and more school online. Well, turns out, things got a little accelerated in grants world and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a really good thing.

Shannon Jean 1:25
Yeah. The other thing I really liked hearing about because I felt this way myself is if you’ve ever felt trapped in your own business, and you know it, it’s a it’s something to really have to come to come to grips with. And he tells a great story about that and, and I’m really looking forward to sharing it with all our listeners. Yeah, for sure. The other thing I want to share with the other thing I want to share with everybody is our sponsor for this week, which is a linode@linode.com slash SBS.

Dave Hamilton 2:00
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They just offer them for you. So it’s really easy. You just go to Linode.com/sbs. Now you go to that URL for two reasons. Number one, it helps them know that we sent you and that’s a good thing for all of us helps to show all of that but there’s something in it for you very specifically. You get a $20 credit just by visiting linode comm slash SPS, their lowest priced server starts at five bucks a month, so you really can experiment and maybe even just run for a little while on that $20 credit at linode comm slash SBS our sincere thanks to linode for sponsoring this episode. All right, Shannon, anything else? No man, I’m ready to go. Alright, let me get it get into this one. Yeah, grants got some good things to say. He is Shannon gene. I’m Dave Hamilton and this is episode 281 of the Small Business Show

Grant Aldrich 4:02
So I think by knowing yourself and knowing, hey, I shouldn’t even be in a kind of business like this, that I have to do this, and I don’t know anything about this, or kind of cutting yourself off at the past, in a way by starting at the very top is the first key thing I would suggest back to my early point. And then the only thing I would also suggest is that and I’ve definitely been a victim to this all throughout my 20s and early 30s was thinking I know more than I actually know and not relying on good counsel and advisors. Because to the point of your show, right this is this was your show would be an example of that. You it goes back to that Greek wisdom, right you know, the only true wisdom is you know, nothing. And that’s that’s always true in my in my in my experience. And so if you are foolish enough to keep going down a path longer than you should without good counsel, it can crush you

Shannon Jean 5:11
Hey there, you know, we talk about disruption a lot on this show, you know, new ideas, new ways of doing things. And I, I’m really kind of passionate about what we’re going to talk about today because I think education is just ripe for disruption. You know,

I have kids, one of my kids just got through college, I’m just starting, you know, another one, my last one on their college career. I hear about K through 12 public school systems that you know, teachers never get any money that way too much administration and, and then the cost of college and how it just increased exponentially. And, you know, he just tears me up to see these young people with massive debt as they get started out because it holds them back from taking risks, like starting your own business. So today, I’m really excited to learn more about a new way and a business to help awesome

offset those college costs and just kind of look at the whole business of college, if you will, with the founder of online degree.com. Grant Aldrich, Grant. Thanks so much for being here today.

Grant Aldrich 6:13
Hey, thank you guys for having me. I’m, I think we’re all David. I know, we’re just ripe to have this discussion today cuz both our kids are that age. Perfect. I did that when I saw you were on the list. It was like, Oh, I could pick this guy’s brain for like, Well, I’ll tell you this comes out of necessity as well. I’ve got three children under three and a half. So I’m going to be getting a quite a shotgun blast in about 16 years here. And so I I essentially need a solution so that I don’t I can actually afford to put them through college, no doubt.

Dave Hamilton 6:45
Well, my presumption would be that and certainly this has been changing even over the last 15 years, that over the next 15 years, the the picture of higher education will change dramatically. And you might ask be okay. But as with any good entrepreneur, you’re not relying on others to get you there. You’re figuring out how to make it happen. That’s great. All right, good.

Shannon Jean 7:08
So, I want to talk, I want to dig into the company stuff too, but also want to learn about your background, you know, how you got here. You know, what led you to start your first business? And then you know, what pushed you to start online degree?

Grant Aldrich 7:25
Yeah, you know, I think to kind of understand my story, yeah, this is something I think everybody will appreciate, right? Because we always ask ourselves as entrepreneurs you know, why do we do this? Know what really has motivated us for the longest of time and and, and when I go all the way back to when I was a little kid, I’ve always wanted freedom. And you know, it’s funny because he’s a little kid even if you you know, you ask, you know, hey, well, what do you mean freedom you mean like to eat whatever you want or to go to bed at anytime? And no, I really wanted like lifestyle, freedom to have like creativity and to be able to do it.

I wanted to do and to build things. And from a young age and the irony, of course, is I didn’t even know what that really meant back then I didn’t have any entrepreneurs in my life. My parents were teachers, which, of course, also comes back to the story with labrie later. And, you know, I, so I never was driven by the monetary aspects of it. And I think all three of us would agree a lot of times, it’s not about the money, the money is not really the big part of it, your work long hours, it’s hard work. It really is about the freedom. And so the irony though, is I really feel that in the I got out of college, when right into startups, and I think many people can appreciate this as well. I became a slave in the pursuit of freedom. Sure, you know, you It’s so easy to build blocks around you that make life miserable on a daily basis, and you get stuck. And I can go into kind of some of those things with my last startup, but basically, I kind of came out of that last experience with before starting online degree where I said, You know what, I’m going to do things my way this time and live the life I want to live. And it really became the Genesis and transition into how I live now what I want to do now,

Shannon Jean 9:08
Yeah, that’s great. You know, we say a lot around my house because I, my wife works with me. And we’ve done all kinds of businesses and stuff. And I always say to my kids, we really don’t have freedom. But what we have is flexibility.

Because I feel the same way, you know, where you You’re the responsibility net that I call it is massive, you know, for these businesses that you start, but but hopefully you can get some flexibility. And you’re right. The impetus I think, for most successful people is not about the money. It’s about doing something different, building your own life, and like Dave likes to say, create that charmed life that we’re all looking for.

Grant Aldrich 9:48
That’s it. That’s exactly right. And you’re right, those those responsibilities. You know, definitely add a twist, you know, from when we were, you know, young and had no kids before we started businesses, but that but that’s you

Right. And I really felt, I’ll tell you exactly what happened I almost after 2015 to give you the background for by 2015. For me, it was probably the best year of my life. In that year, I had exited my prior startup, which had been about an eight year journey. I had married my wife, and we were pregnant with our first choice. So just top of the world, right, congratulations. That’s awesome. Thank you. Yeah, good. Couldn’t be that year. And maybe I never will. And then in 2016, earlier in that year, I almost died swimming up in Northern California, at a time when I was on a beach and surf advisory shouldn’t have been out there and almost died. And like, you know, as I’m out there, it’s about to happen. And I was thinking to myself, Wow, I can’t believe that’s it. And after the fact, I had a very introspective period that I would I’ve now I’ve really been very vocal about to encourage all entrepreneurs to do because what came out of that was that you know, you question everything.

That happened in an event like that, where everything you’d worked for, and everything that you were going to have was going to come to an abrupt end. And it’s sad, it takes an event like that, to, to bring about this good process. But really what came out of that process was I took about that six months to know myself, right. And I go back to that ancient Greek Maxim, which, you know, ancient Greece, for your listeners, one of the things that was on or was inscribed on the Temple of Apollo, the God of wisdom was the was the saying Know thyself. And the whole thought process was, how could you ever obtain true wisdom? If you didn’t know yourself the one thing you should know better than everything else, or anybody else. And so once I went through that, I got to know myself and realized that I was miserable. And the path that I was gonna be on was miserable. And so although I, I like to point like, Hey, I was able to get a successful then after that, I really am thankful that I was able to get to that point and now move forward.

We all know that college has never been more unaffordable, more inaccessible for a working adult. And that is an A, that’s a crazy thing. Because especially at a time now, where these there’s these strong macro headwinds, they’re forcing so many more people to go back to school because you got globalization, robot automation that’s coming, that’s going to wipe out and just an incredible amount of jobs. You’ve got, you know, all these different things. And then what happened now with COVID, to you know, your guys point earlier, has really just accelerated what was going to happen in education and the workplace 1015 years from now. And now it’s happening at this very moment. And so all the dye had already been cast, about the changes and the disruption that was going to happen. And I really feel that we’re just there now. And we become even more important for what’s about to come. And I’ll summarize what we do. I mean, essentially, what we do is any we’re a modern alternative to that.

And really try to attain happiness.

Shannon Jean 12:02
Yeah, that’s that’s a powerful story.

Dave Hamilton 12:05
We talk a lot about self awareness on the show, and and you just hit it right there. If you don’t know, if you’re not routinely focused on knowing yourself, you will very quickly become someone that you don’t know. It’s too easy. So yeah, yeah, that’s

Grant Aldrich 12:23
Yeah. And you know, actually, you guys being fellow entrepreneurs, you could appreciate this, right? Because the one thing that is never involved in any decision when you’re choosing a business, or I’ve never seen it is, is this the right business for me personally, right, because we all know that we love the exercise and come up with a business ideas. It’s a constant thing. You’re come up with business ideas, or helping other people formulate their business idea or model and it never comes up and all those metrics we apply like business model scalability and all these things. Hey, is this the right business for me if I’m if I want to be in board shorts every day, should I go out there and have to play On a suit and be at conferences all the time? Well, the answer is probably no. Or, you know, I’m a terrible manager at which is actually, that’s true. I feel like I am a terrible manager. And so, do I want to create a company where I have to manage people all day long? Like those these questions, I think, for long term happiness and the success of the business, because we all know, businesses take a lot longer to be successful than we assume from the onset. I think it’s detrimental and people don’t take it into consideration.

Shannon Jean 13:27
Yeah, that is some great advice. And I, after talking, you know, with hundreds of entrepreneurs over the last five or six years, it is a pretty common story that the first time out, you, you kind of get yourself in that position. And then the next time or, you know, maybe takes a few times for some of us, you do try to create that environment that you know, you can thrive in versus just banging your head against the wall. You know, square pegs and round holes, you know, type of thing.

Grant Aldrich 13:58
Yeah, I think you nailed it. That’s right. And you know, as you hope there’s a next time because I think that’s correct. And I think this story embodies my story. And I think that you’re right, so many people fall into that trap because I, you know, you we all probably hear this often. It’s, oh, you know, this is going to be a side business and I won’t take up that much time. And, you know, I could just, you know, it’s not that I don’t have to put so much thought into if I’m gonna enjoy it or not. Or, you know, just there’s just so much money potentially here. I’m gonna look past the fact I’m gonna be miserable. You know what, I take two years?

Dave Hamilton 14:30
Yeah, what I mean by that is,

Grant Aldrich 14:32
yeah, exactly. So you know, you hear these mistakes all the time. And yeah, now I look back and just laugh and I try to tell people if I’m helping, or I’m, you know, talking to someone about a business idea. It’s like, Listen, no, no, you got to play for a long ball game. And you’ve got to make sure that this is the right business for you.

Shannon Jean 14:48
Yeah. And, you know, we’re also just listen to your words. You know, I knew I wanted to be free and have this and all of us are so like, strong willed that you know, We many of us just have to experience ourselves even though everybody can tell you, Hey, this is you know, I did this, don’t do it. But I think, you know, I had to learn it myself too. It’s it’s

Grant Aldrich 15:11
like you guys provide a lot of really good, you know, advice on the show with all these cool guests and all these insights from entrepreneurs and stuff that’s like very actionable. And yet like to me, well, that’s huge, right? You learn more from your show, then you’re ever going to learn a course on entrepreneurship. You’re listening to real entrepreneurs, all the stories and things that have worked or not worked and insights and revelations. And yet to me, yeah, it’s just one of those things, right? We never really ask ourselves about our like, we ever apply ourselves to the situation. It’s crazy. Yeah, no,

Dave Hamilton 15:40
this show is the thing that taught it sounds very crazy and meta, but this show is the thing that taught me to apply myself to the businesses that I have, like and like, like, think about where where do I fit the best in my businesses, you know, and how can I make sure that that I’m Leveraging everything the way I should and and I’m in the right spot. Yeah, it’s it. But you’re right. This is our course on entrepreneurship right here doing this show. Hopefully it’s a course on entrepreneurship for people listening. But if it’s not, that’s very, yeah, we always argue about which one of the most, she always says he does. But that’s only because I know that I do. So it’s it’s all. Yeah, so

Shannon Jean 16:23
that’s great. So we, you know, now we know a little bit about your background, kind of how are you going? how you got there. Talk about what’s the mission of online degree, you know, tell tell us about what you guys do over there.

Grant Aldrich 16:37
Yeah, well, so the mission is, and I really just started with the mission is to make college affordable and accessible. Think about now, it’s funny that we need something like that today. Right, that needs a mission for higher education. Right, but that isn’t just inherent, yeah, we’re available. But you know, sadly, problem to solve. Yeah, right. But sadly, it’s not

Community College System. It made it way better, right than some government institutions. So now, students can get started in 60 seconds on our platform, and start taking as many college level courses as they’d like for credit towards their degree. And we do it all for free. So that means they can get started with no applications, no entrance exams, start taking courses, try things out, see if it fits their schedule, see if it’s interesting, and save money and time towards their degree. Is that no cost?

Shannon Jean 18:29
Yeah, that’s, that’s cool. I just brings up more questions that I have. So yeah, let’s do it. So what’s the revenue model? Everything’s free. I read up on the site. It looks great. What’s the long term revenue model for you guys?

Grant Aldrich 18:48
Yeah, so the revenue models were totally supported by the universities. And so let me give you the genesis of this because I was in a position of absolute necessity to come up with a business model that could could work with it being free, because To my mind, it had to be free. There’s an estimated 35 to 40 million working adults who want to go back to school who aren’t taking that first step. So I think people in all the listeners need to change their paradigm where the main constituent now for higher education is not that 18 year old, it’s the working adult who’s going to be a lifelong learner. That’s how the markets changed. And so for that group, nothing is conducive to going back to school. I mean, I can’t leave work in the middle of the day and go to a drive to a community college for a couple hours and miss work for or on family time, skip out to go to class. Then there’s the financial component. And the Finally, as adults, we all know, we’re totally stubborn, and we’re scared of change. And so you know, to get over that leap, and go into normal process where Oh, yeah, I’ll just start enroll right now. Come up with a big loan and kind of go that process. It doesn’t work and so much approach to this was that you have to address all the impediments. Think of it like a customer for the student. And for all these working adults at the community college system doesn’t address. And so that was the genesis of it, I knew it had to be free. So if it’s free, if you dispense with the tuition model in your sout, in your, in your in your model, well, then you have to figure out a way to pay for it. I figured out you know what, the universities get a lot of value from this as well. And they’ll support it. Because what it’s obvious right with the value of the consumer gets saving money and time on their degree. wade into the pool instead of jump in the universities given immense benefit as well, because there’s a little known fact that universities are desperate for good students. And when I say good, I mean students who are going to finish their program, who are going to come prepared to learn, who are not going to drop out, they know how they can fit this in their schedule. So it’s kind of like the minor leagues. As you go through our program, you inherently become more desirable and a better student so that we universities are willing to sponsor The entire thing. Wow. And

Dave Hamilton 21:01
yeah, okay, so you you are essentially finding vetting out and finding those students that are going to apply themselves and getting them on the right path. I mean, effectively what you’ve described as a it’s not really the right term, but maybe a CPA program for yourself, for you, with universities to bring them leads, right. You’re, it’s a lead gen program. If you’re if we’re just, you know, stripping it down to the brass tacks. You are you’re serving a mission here as well, but, but the revenue model is a lead gen thing.

Grant Aldrich 21:36
Yeah, at Legion enrollment, really? Because, yeah. You know, yeah, yeah, exactly. So for them, it’s it’s a recruiting pool is really the way to look at it.

Shannon Jean 21:43
That’s right. Yeah, right. Got it. That’s great. And,

Grant Aldrich 21:46
and so it’s what’s great about that is that as as it grows, right, it has benefits on both sides. And both sides. Obviously, it’s a win win. They both have the same goal we all want to get. We want you to get the education you want. Of course. That’s what you want. And so because the platform with both sides equally incentivized on that, we have all of these awesome things happening, like universities are giving more and more perks as you come on bigger discounts, right? Because before all of this, the only way that you could save a college right in terms of the conventional wisdom was scholarships and Community College. And both of those do not work. And I will get I can get into that further, but they don’t work. And so when you look past that, instead, you come to this platform, and we realize that what’s more important is people who are prepared who have some credits, they’ve proven that they want to be there. Now universities really offer you just discounts straight up. 10% 20% right off the top. You don’t have to apply for anything. There’s no ambiguity of whether you’re going to get it just boom right there.

Shannon Jean 22:50
I think without making a deal. That’s it. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 22:53
exactly.

Shannon Jean 22:54
That’s great. So have you Have you always been focused on the on the you know, Coming back in to get additional skills or is that, you know, younger students that may be especially now looking at, you know, one of the questions I want to ask you is, is the COVID thing changed things for you? And so I’ll kind of combine these things. Is that younger student also part of the customer base that you go after?

Grant Aldrich 23:22
They are now Yeah. And so let me start with the, the end of your question, which is, you know, has COVID changed anything and actually, not a thing COVID just accelerated what was already happening. And so, you know, college, all these trends, I talked about robot automation, the globalization, all these things are already happening. And, you know, for example, I go out and talk all the time, like guys, you know, like, just talk to people. You have to start thinking about your job being outsourced, like, you know, for example, I look at the trucking industry. There were there’s 2 million jobs in trucking just to pick one example and 2 million jobs where people make it decent living, right? They work hard, but they’re probably making around 70 80,000 a year. And that industry is right now going to be automated with robots. There are trucking convoys on the road right now, where they’re completely robotic. That industry is going to be cut down by, by estimates of like, 75 to 80%. One industry with high paying jobs, what are these guys gonna do? And you know, people don’t, they just don’t want to pay attention to that until it’s too late. And so what’s happened now with COVID is it’s a this is an unavoidable thing. You can’t ignore it anymore. And so now there’s been this surge of what was already going to come to pass right now. And for young if you know, for young kids coming out of high school, our platform works as well and we’re about to open it up to them. When I came out of the gate, I wanted to make it very focused and make sure we hit our core constituent with the working adult, but we get probably two people banging on the door for everyone we let in who are under 18 or international, who we initially had just not allowed them to log in, because we want to conserve our support resources. And we’re in the process of remedying that. So yeah, we will be able to offer this so that anybody can come in. Yeah, you know, either whether you’re advanced and you want to knock out a few credits before you get to school, or if you want, if you’re kind of part of a program where you’re at risk, and these kids can also try to get some college experience maybe to get back on track. It’s really applicable. Yeah,

Shannon Jean 25:26
that’s great. I mean, not now. It’s a little different now as things are getting open back up. But as of, you know, three, four weeks ago, when we were prepping for my son to go away, you know, they were talking about, well, most of his classes because you can be freshmen are going to be done online and thinking, Okay, well, why are we shipping you out there to you know, I want you to have this eventual college experience, that’s great. But you know, there’s got to be a better way to do it. And I just think that you know, your service it just so it just makes so much sense that they could do it. Especially you know, If if somebody schools I mean, the whole, you know, Cal State system is going to be online this fall, apparently, I wouldn’t want to be sending my kid away just to sit in their dorm room, you know, drink beer when they’re not in class and then come back and do online stuff. They can do that at home, right? Yeah, yeah.

Dave Hamilton 26:17
It’s not the experience you’re paying for. Yeah. Right. I mean, it’s like it’s, uh, it, you can get a good edge, you can get an education that way. And you can probably get a good one. I mean, it it. There aren’t enough data points to know that I mean, there’s a few schools that have done it all online, but you know, like we will find out, but I think there’s a lot of kids that are going to choose not to go in the fall. And if that happens, I think there’s a lot of kids that are going to realize, wait a minute, like I can get started in my life without waiting through college, you know, it, that whole concept of while you go high school in college, it just let you let you live in the shelter’s of academia, and there’s nothing inherently wrong With that, in a general sense for certain people, yes, for certain people, no. But those if you know, forced those kids not to have that option. And I think higher education, I mean, they’re shaking in their boots right now because they know that like, the, this bubble might burst for them. And we got it right. I mean, like, it’s, it’s, it was already I mean, it’s been bursting slowly in a controlled way for the last 15 to 20 years. Right. The whole, you know, estimated Family Contribution thing is, is relatively new and was really introduced to mitigate the, you know, the, there’s no way I’m gonna spend 75 grand a year for school, you know, like, it deals with that. But still, there’s there’s plenty to fix. I think so. Yeah.

Grant Aldrich 27:46
Yeah. You just what you actually touched on is the defining issue. It’s online versus traditional. And if you think about it, that is the you know, so now of course, we’re seeing the wave of adoption and what people don’t realize Is that before COVID? Higher Ed is like a $700 billion industry. It’s massive. And the only faction or only portion of that that was growing was the online, every other part was in decline. And it was already 50 billion rapidly growing. And the reality is because online is as a huge point of contention internally at these groups from Old Guard professors don’t don’t want to do it’s not. And so that’s because that’s it. That’s it. They’re resisting the change and the resistance the marketplace, because again, they’re not good Damn, yeah. And they’ve they’ve been like totally insulated from that an ivory tower. And the problem is, is that now to your point, there is going to be a wave of closures. And all these universities who are not online or not substantially enough online, are either scrambling or realizing they have to close their doors are going to be gone. So you know, there’s been something out there saying 20% of universities are going to be gone next for us. That’s true. And the ones that are going to thrive are the ones that have adopted online and have realized that whether you like it or not online is the future, and that it is better under almost any context for learning and more immersive than the traditional setting with some very light exceptions. And, again, the dye had already been cast, there’s no it’s going to happen. It was whether they’re going to willing to accept that at this point or not. Yeah, it’s fascinating. Like, you know, an analogy I’ll draw is dating, right? I mean, like, you know, 20 years ago, no one was online dating, and that would have been weird. Now. I mean, it’s weird, not if you’re going to go out there and dating and not have a Tinder account or not have whatever the account is. It’s the gold standard. It’s the same white.

Shannon Jean 29:42
Yeah. And we’re having a it’s a great segue. We have a guest coming on. It might be next week or the week after that has an online dating, app and business just for athletes. And so it’s your right I mean, it’s it’s, it is it is weird. If you were back in the day, when where, you know, you would meet people going out somewhere seems to be online?

Dave Hamilton 30:06
Well, it’s way more efficient is is is what it comes down to. I mean, I, I am, I am like maybe one of the first people to ever have dated because of someone I met online. I dated a girl for several years that I met, because of a bulletin board that I ran back, you know, when I was like 20, or something, you know, and it worked out great, because we were able to do all those things that people now do. Now, if I was smart enough, I would have seen this and built a business on it. And then different conversations here. But I’ve proven over and over again that I’m not smart enough to apply the things that I do for myself to others all the time. I do it sometimes and it’s enough to keep me from living in a cardboard box. But

Shannon Jean 30:48
I agree. I think it’s it is efficient, but I also think it’s stacked the deck is stacked against because it’s so visual, that you’re it’s it’s I think it can be shallow, and it’s almost like you shouldn’t get to see each other for a while. And then

Dave Hamilton 31:05
the thing is, though, people are, I’m curious to ask our upcoming guests about this. I don’t mean to, you know, I mean, either it’s just Yeah, but but like, I, I actually, and I haven’t done it because I’ve been married and you know, for 20 years, woman for 25 Plus, but it seems to me that yes, the there’s that initial, you know, shallow thing, but then you’re just texting each other for a long time, but much greater necessarily. And that’s way better. I agree, then, you know, the only time we get to communicate is the you know, the the hour and a half that we’re eating dinner together or what you know, whatever the the quote, unquote date,

Shannon Jean 31:43
so what you need to do is Anyway, you need to build an app that you the pictures are faded until you do a little texting and then you pay a little more and then it comes off.

Grant Aldrich 31:56
It’s like the shallow hell of dating, right? Yeah.

Shannon Jean 31:59
All right. I’m gonna get us back here

Dave Hamilton 32:01
we have another business just gonna leave on the floor. It’s definitely Yeah,

Shannon Jean 32:06
that’s so talk about mistakes of not starting other businesses. You know, we’re we’re big fans of mistakes on the show. In fact, we just you know published a book called mistakes and we think they’re the the tuition of small business owners and really can be the foundation of your success. You know, when you look back on them, you always like yeah, that I really learned that from the screw up. What would you say is your best mistake, you know, the one that stuck with you and taught you a valuable lesson as you build your businesses?

Grant Aldrich 32:36
Yeah, wow. It’s hard to come up with why you look back I think.

Unknown Speaker 32:41
Some people are like, well, I really have to think about it.

Shannon Jean 32:44
And other people like, No, you don’t.

Grant Aldrich 32:46
Yeah. No, you don’t. That’s right. I know. It’s just so true. Because you think about it’s more just you just littered more with failures and your hope that in that, you know, those those those few successes you get dotted in there, make up for

Dave Hamilton 32:59
that. Yeah, yeah, keeps you out of the cardboard box. That’s it.

Grant Aldrich 33:02
That’s right. Yeah, um, well, you know, honestly, I could give a lot. But I think that from like a big perspective, it goes back to knowing myself because I look back and I so much, it kind of goes back that old adage that you can be your own worst enemy. And that, you know, you have to kind of learn where you’re the weakest and not to allow you. Because actually, let me take a step back, if usually, in a startup internet business, small business environment, you don’t have a lot of people to bounce ideas off of, it’s kind of lonely, and you hope you have maybe a co founder or someone or some good advisors, but at the same time, it always is kind of a lonely and you’re making decisions in a vacuum, it seems like and you don’t always have a lot of precedents. And so you as again, and then another aspect of that is that you’re always thrust in all these different roles because you have to wear a lot of hats. And you constantly make bad decisions because you’re putting yourself in a place to make bad decisions because you shouldn’t be the one necessarily doing it or You know, all kinds of things like that. And so I think by knowing yourself and knowing, hey, I shouldn’t even be in a kind of business like this, that I have to do this, and I don’t know anything about this, or kind of cutting yourself off at the past, in a way, by starting at the very top is the first key thing I would suggest back to my earlier point. And then the only thing I would also suggest is that and I’ve definitely been a victim to this all throughout my 20s and early 30s was thinking I know more than I actually know and not relying on good counsel and advisors. Because to the point of your show, right? And this your show would be an example of that. You it goes back to that Greek wisdom, right, you know, the only true wisdom is you know, nothing. Yeah. And that’s that’s always true in my in my in my experience. And so if you are foolish enough to keep going down a path longer than you should without good counsel, it can crush you. Yeah, literally chronic sense.

Shannon Jean 34:58
So yeah. What kind of leads us into? You know, one of the last questions I always like to ask to is, if you could give yourself one piece of advice, looking back now, as you were getting started with your first business and you think that would be that the, the insight that you would share with yourself?

Grant Aldrich 35:16
I think I would tell them, you know, I think I would tell myself by bit.

I do. No kidding. I yeah, absolutely. I because, you know, in my early 20s, a lot of the mistakes that I made, like while it’s respectable that hey, you know, you’re out you want, you’re willing to get out there, you’re willing to be an entrepreneur, you’re willing to take the risks and in just the ride in general, there are certain things that you’re prone, certain problems that you’re prone to approach and mistakes you’re going to make. And for me personally, this is exasperated by my personality, which is that I will put my head down and I because I think I’ve got a high tolerance for pain. I will sit there and think, well, if this isn’t working, I’m just not enduring long enough. Or I’m not working hard enough. When the reality is someone pulls you out of the water and says, Hey, listen, man, you shouldn’t be swimming in that direction in the first place and puts you right back on the right track. I think that would be the biggest one is that you got to have advisors to say, you know, what do you think about this and allow wisdom to come in and say, you know, you might want to rethink that.

Shannon Jean 36:21
Yeah, that’s really good. I like it. I like it. We are we love advisors. Yeah, we I mean, we’re hard headed. And you know, we don’t listen to them all that all the time. But you get enough of that feedback. And, you know, it’s really helpful. You know, Grant, you share just some really great lessons today. I’m just stoked about your business model. And I just, you know, wish you nothing but the best. And thank you for coming and talking to us today. What’s the best way for our listeners to connect with you and to learn more about online degree?

Grant Aldrich 36:56
Well, thank you for having me, guys. There’s just been a good time chatting with you. And hopefully my rant Links are somewhat useful to the to the crowd out there.

Dave Hamilton 37:02
We all relate today. This is great.

Shannon Jean 37:04
Yeah, you’re good.

Grant Aldrich 37:05
Yep. But that shallow hell out that’s got something

you know, I would say that, you know, they can definitely follow the project. It’s online degree calm. And you know, I know a lot of people thankfully and this is it’s always really flattering to me kind of follow what we’re doing just kind of rooting for us right that hey, can we bring a free market better model to this industry to help a lot of people and just, you know, feel better about ourselves make it work and let alone if it could actually help you. And and then you know, I’m on LinkedIn a lot. So that’s probably a really good place to is if you just search my name grant Aldrich, online degree calm, I could pop up. That’s great.

Shannon Jean 37:43
Yeah, we, you know, we’re excited for you. And I’m, I’m excited to check back in with you as you grow your business and, you know, celebrate your inevitable success. I think you’re really onto something here. So thank you again, we really appreciate it.

Grant Aldrich 37:57
Yeah, well, thank you guys. Really, that would have been a really good time. And I appreciate you appreciate those thoughts.

Dave Hamilton 38:02
Yeah, you know, I No offense to our other recent guests, but grant perhaps just of the time because of the timeliness of it for me, and my life similar to what you’re going through in your life. This this is, you know, certainly one of my favorite recent interviews here, he he really nailed a lot of things, which is plus he’s been with me so that’s it. Of course, that’s

Shannon Jean 38:27
always nice. That’s the echo chambers. Great. I have the same problem. But yeah, it was great that he, you know, he’s been through this, you know, this journey of doing something and kind of getting stuck and getting trapped, which, you know, we we all kind of been through through that. And I love the business model. I think it’s just a very unique way to do it. And, you know, after having seen my kids go through the online stuff these last, you know, few months and I’m just a firm believer that Yeah. Anyways, it’s great. I, I do still think there’s some, you know, big benefit to at least occasionally having that face to face in education and college and that kind of thing. Well,

Dave Hamilton 39:12
I think what you miss is I I’ve often referred to college as a halfway house in there, right? I mean, you’re, you’re on your own, but you’re not really I mean, there’s training wheels, right? The training wheels are especially, you know, you start off in the dorms, maybe you move off campus halfway through, that’s, you know, one step and then and then hopefully you’re ready not to just go back and live at home. But and so you don’t get like that part of things does not happen as a natural course of it with online It doesn’t mean that it can’t, it just means that you need to apply some intention there. It’s not just baked into the program like it is going off to university or something. So, yeah, that’s the part that I wonder about because we don’t know Everybody goes through that. And most people turn out just fine anyway. Oh, you know what I mean?

Shannon Jean 40:03
So we had a good time. Some people probably hate it.

Dave Hamilton 40:06
Yeah, yeah, exactly. I actually hated it. But that’s, that’s a different that’s a whole different story. I mean, I was college was not for me, but, but you know that, that that’s okay. You know, like I said, it worked out like here, here we are not living in a cardboard box. You know, Jeff, that’s

Shannon Jean 40:22
great. That’s great. Well, you know, we love having those guests on if if you’re a small business owner that wants to share your story, or you know, of someone that you think would be a great guest on the show, please, you know, reach out feedback at Business Show co The other thing we would ask you to do is please leave us a review. It only takes about 30 seconds, go to Business Show co slash reviews. And, and or leave it in the podcast, you know, app that you’re listening to right now, and let everybody know what you think it really helps that appreciate it. Absolutely. All right. Well, that’s what it takes to get there. Thanks for listening everybody. Make sure to Check out linode.com slash SBS and we will see you next time keep living at charmed life

Read Transcript
  • 00:00:00 Small Business Show #281 for Wednesday, June 17, 2020
  • 00:01:49 00:01:57 SPONSOR: Linode. Instantly deploy and manage an SSD server in the Linode Cloud. Get a server running in seconds with your choice of Linux distro, resources, and choice of 10 node locations. Visit Linode.com/SBS to start with a $20 credit. 
  • 00:03:46 
  • Grant Aldrich from OnlineDegree.com
  • From the highest of highs to near death in less than one year
  • Know Thyself: Is this the right business for me… personally?
  • Starting OnlineDegree.com: Making College Affordable and Accessible
  • Working, life-long-learning adults, are the new target market for higher education
  • Universities are desperate for good students
  • Online vs. Traditional
  • Higher Ed is/has-been a $700B industry
    • Online has been $50B and rapidly growing
  • Mistakes, your tuition, and foundation, for your small business success
  • Learn where you’re the weakest.
  • Learn more about Grant and his team at OnlineDegree.com

BusinessShow.co/Reviews — Please leave us a 5-star review

The post Grant Aldrich – Founder of OnlineDegree – Small Business Show Episode 281 appeared first on The Small Business Show.

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