Editor’s note: Do you have a physical business that you love, but wish that you could become location independent? Do you want to be able to monetize your passion while traveling the world at the same time? Then you are going to love this post. Freedomists, meet Inga Hope, who had a business in Auckland: one-on-one guitar tuitions for kids. Then she joined Natalie’s Freedom PlanTM program and is now living the freedom lifestyle by teaching guitar to kids around the world. Read on to find out how she transformed her one-on-one, in-person tutoring service into a global, 100% internet based business.
Hi, I am Inga Hope, a guitar teacher who saw an unmet need in a niche market and created a product to address it. I started out with a one-on-one tutoring service. But in 2016, my Gentle Guitar™ school shifted gears onto the online platform and is now teaching kids from all over the world!
Finding the idea and niche for my business
Back in 2010, I was searching the web for different guitar methods for kids and found something very odd about all of them. I even contacted publishers (in 3 different languages!), but turned up the same result — the guitar methods on the market were categorized as “for kids, ages 5-12.”
Does that make sense? Can you use the same textbook for a 5-year-old and a 12-year-old, and expect the same results? Of course not.
And it holds true to this day!
That’s why most guitar teachers don’t offer formal guitar tuition to young kids. The teachers who do, teach using the available methods, usually fail, and the tuition ends in tears for everyone involved.
That’s an entire global market of teachers, parents, and kids eager for formal guitar tuition (the study of theory and standard notation). Without the right tools, there was no way to provide these kids with guitar tuition.
That was my aha! moment.
With my background in private guitar pedagogy and experience in digital media, I dusted off InDesign and handcrafted a custom method that broke down guitar tuition into the following age groups: ages four to five-and-a-half, ages five-and-a-half to eight, and ages nine to twelve plus.
The response was amazing!
I started out with one teaching location, and it was so popular that by 2013, I had trained and hired three teachers, and expanded my private practice into three teaching locations around Auckland.
So I decided to take it a step further. I wrote a business plan, won a small-business grant, and met the best franchise consultants in Auckland. Just when I was about to start the paperwork for franchising something very interesting happened…
I started getting requests for lessons from rural New Zealand. Parents were emailing from Titirangi, and other places I’d never even heard of! “When are you coming to New Plymouth?” “Do you have a school in Christchurch?”
One of the parents suggested that I record the tuition as a weekly video and email them the video and the workbook. Another parent suggested trying a couple of lessons over Skype. So I did.
To my great surprise, the Skype tuition worked out just as well as one-on-one lessons. Better, in fact, because I had more communication with the parent during the lesson. In a typical lesson, the parent usually runs errands or waits in the car. However, with Skype lessons, the parent participated in the instruction, which increased the involvement and practice at home and led to ten times faster musical progress.
I realized that I could take it even further and could now reach not only the local and rural kids in New Zealand but also kids from all over the world!
Taking my guitar tutoring business online
I decided to do an experiment, so I told all my Auckland students that we were now offering Skype lessons. I showed them the benefits of the Skype lessons, and how they are more convenient.
More than half the students (we’re talking kids, ages 5-12, accompanied by a parent) signed up right away. They LOVED the fact that they didn’t have to be stuck in traffic driving to and from lessons!
With the growing success of the Skype lessons, I realized that the concept of franchising for growth was burdensome and outdated.
On the other hand, the online business model was lean, efficient, and most importantly, effective. It has the ability to be scaled globally, with practically no investments and zero overhead.
I started researching others who had turned their physical business into an online business. That’s when I first came across the Suitcase Entrepreneur. After following the blog and the podcast for almost a year, I enrolled in the Freedom PlanTM program in 2015.
I joined the Freedom Plan not because I wanted to escape my job; I loved my job! Nor was I looking for a freedom lifestyle, which I discovered was a BONUS!
I joined the Freedom Plan because I was looking for tools and a framework to help me rebuild my business from scratch, and take it online.
To be honest, I am still working on it. There’s a lot of valuable information in the course. But when you already have a working business, converting everything to a whole new mental and structural framework takes time and adjustment.
By 2016, most of my students were taking Skype lessons, and franchising completely lost its appeal. So I closed down the three physical locations in Auckland and followed Natalie’s lead through the Freedom PlanTM program.
Natalie has been an inspiration and a role model. Learning about the tools used to grow a business online, and seeing how she runs things at Suitcase Entrepreneur has been a huge motivation.
Living the freedom lifestyle by doing what I love
Today, I am 100% internet-based, with students from around the world taking lessons via Skype on a weekly basis. I have a new guitar teacher in the UK, currently, in training, another one starting soon in France, and a resident teacher in New Zealand. At the Gentle GuitarTM school, we aim to cover all the time zones to reach kids all around the world.
In short, the Freedom PlanTM program is helping me revolutionize the way the I’m teaching guitar to children.
The tools I learned from Natalie and her program were so effective that in less than a year I went from being tied up with three locations in Auckland to writing this from the heart of Medieval Copenhagen.
My life today could not have been a reality if it wasn’t for the tools in the Freedom PlanTM. Thank you, Natalie!
What my day looks like today
On a typical day, I have the picturesque historic architecture of Copenhagen as my backdrop. I work from home, from the various local cafes, or from the meticulously groomed, gorgeous parks in the city. In the winter, when Copenhagen is bleak and windy, I head over to New Zealand and enjoy the lovely sunny beaches and wild nature of my home country.
I am also able to travel more and can take off to Paris or Southern Italy at a moment’s notice. I am even able to carry out my day’s work uninterrupted on road trips through Sweden and Norway.
My students are no longer surprised to come along on an adventure with me virtually! I’ve taught guitar lessons from a liveaboard sailboat with a cozy marina as a backdrop; from the backseat of a car at a McDonald’s parking lot in the middle of a Swedish motorway; and even from the North Pole! With the Internet becoming faster and more reliable around the world, I couldn’t be happier with the variety and freedom that my business has brought me.
I hope that my story is a good example, and hopefully an inspiration for other small business owners to “think outside the box.”
My main message to fellow business owners is this:
It’s not only the ‘web’ businesses that can thrive online. Teaching guitar to kids is a hands-on, face-to-face type of job. However, today’s technology makes it possible to take a one-on-one experience and replicate it virtually. It is proof that the freedom lifestyle is increasingly more accessible. Not only to web-based professions but to anyone willing to explore the online world with an open mind.
Inga created her ideal lifestyle business that gives her more time, money, and freedom. If you’d like to do the same, check out the Freedom PlanTM program: