Entrepreneur
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Why not start an institute or center?

By Andrew Neitlich

My wife and I took a few vacation days this week to improve our tennis game at Nick Bolletieri’s IMG Academy (www.imgacademies.com). We had a great time, and an idea about marketing web — and any professional services — came to mind.

Nick has created IPI, the International Performance Institute. It shows athletes the best practices in getting fit, flexible, and agile. He brings together great trainers, great equipment, and cutting edge techniques. As a result, professional athletes (and hackers like me) stop by to learn.

Any professional can start a similar institute in their field. Why not start an institute or center for excellence in Web Design, Web Marketing, Web Development, or a specific programming language/platform? They exist already in various forms of course, often started by the creators of such languages. But you can start on a small scale and create your own.

How would the business model work? That’s up to you. You could do it as a free service for clients, sharing best practices with them. You could charge a membership fee and make it exclusive. And you could charge people to access materials and reports on a one-time basis.

What content would you provide? Any of the following:

– Case studies of web sites that you compile (or pay someone to compile)

– Web assessments

– Technology audits

– Tele-seminars about good web design and marketing

– Buyer’s guides (a la marketingsherpa.com)

– Conferences

– Workshops

– Advisory circles bringing together industry experts and clients to discuss trends in the Web and prepare strategies

The sky is the limit.

But when you follow this strategy, you become the go-to expert, not just another vendor. You develop a brand and a name for yourself. People come to you.

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  • MarkB

    Thanks Andrew – that could be a great way to strengthen perceived value within a niche. May need to consider it in future.

  • http://www.lowter.com charmedlover

    It would be very intersting, and would be a method to directly pass web standards along to novice developers. Right now, most institutions don’t teach standards at all, which is why we have some crappy developers – who have never visited SitePoint! Lol.

  • drakke

    I think by providing articles and valuable content on your site you are partly establishing your knowledge on the Internet.

    Adaptive Path does this and sells reports online. Some of their members also started The Information Architecture Institute (iainstitute.org).

  • MickoZ

    … and I will call it sitepoint! :D

  • http://www.satviz.com davestarr

    A great subset of this idea is the presentation of business case files that support Web development work, SEO, SEM etc. There is tons of expertise in these segments of the industry, but very few who can document their performance in the business sense.

    Many success recommendations, books, web sites, success courses, etc., advocate ‘thinking big’ … so why not think big in this way… good tip, Andrew.

  • http://www.dannyfoo.com/minifolio/ dannyFoo

    This was already included in my business plan since last year. :) Just need to get the income as well as set a name first for myself. However, I believe that to make this idea more sellable, it can’t be too techy so it would cater to a not-so-tech-savvy CEO and other executives who’d love to learn the trade but not be confused by the jargon we normally use. ;)

    Cheers.

  • Anonymous

    My dream is to strat my own school but I have no clue where to begin. What do you this is the first step?

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