Before I dive into my honest review of Marie Forleo’s B-School and share a few thoughts from friends and colleagues who have also taken B-School that help highlight when it might not be the right fit for you, I wanted to give you some background on my own experience with Marie Forleo’s team and with B-School.
I first came across Marie’s YouTube show, MarieTV, in 2016, and found it really helpful and inspiring at a time when I was navigating some big work and life changes. (My favourite episode is the one about decision-making when you feel unclear or torn about something. This episode was really helpful for me at a time when I’d lost sight of my own needs and desires and needed help getting back in touch with my intuition.)
In 2017, I took the leap to being a full time self-employed copywriter and content strategist, and I worked part time as a freelance copywriter for Marie Forleo International for about a year, from 2017 – 2018, and also contributed to a B-School resource in the module on content planning and SEO.
In 2018 while I was on maternity leave, I signed up to B-School. It was a good moment for me to take it; I had time to watch the videos and dip in and out of the course contents while feeding my new baby, and I had a natural pause in my life during which time I could reflect on the direction of my work and think about how I wanted my career to progress once my maternity leave ended. I chose to invest my own money in a programme that I had contributed to and been involved in doing some marketing for because I believed in what the programme had to offer, and knew that only by investing my own precious money into it would I give it the full attention and engagement that it needed. I had seen first hand what a great bunch Marie’s team was, and how brilliant she was in person to work with.
So, in a sense I’m not unbiased (who really is, though?)—I had a great experience working with Marie Forleo and her team before taking B-School, and B-School definitely was the right fit for me when I took it. It helped me go back to work after my maternity leave with new plans, and I’ve returned to it many times over the years. It’s shaped how I think about my work in conscious and unconscious ways, and there’s been many a time when I’ve asked someone if they’re a B-Schooler, only to have them laugh and say yes, how could I tell? I can tell because they just tend to have a clearer way of thinking and talking about their “why”, goals, and strategy; it seems to give them a little je ne sais quoi that you know when you see it.
However, I did buy the programme myself at full price even though I could have had free access as an employee. And, I did speak to a few friends and fellow B-Schoolers who felt that B-School actually wasn’t the right fit for them, and that’s what I wanted to share with you today.
So, if you’re considering investing in B-School, I hope this helps you get clarity on your decision. And if you need something else to help you decide, I’d recommend watching that MarieTV episode about decision-making that I mentioned. The advice Marie shares there has helped me many a time when decisions felt sticky.
Let’s face it: B-School is an investment. You’re likely considering taking an online business and marketing course because you feel like something about your work needs to change, and for many of us, our struggles are often connected with not feeling like we have enough time, or money, or both. A course requires both money and time of you, so it can be a scary prospect. Is it worth it? Will I make back enough money, save enough time, from what I’ve learned on this course?
I get it. It’s hard to make these choices, and the only person who can really answer the “Is this going to be worth it?” question is you. No course will magically give you more money or time. You have to be open to learn, willing to put the work in to implement everything you learn. Some progress isn’t easily quantifiable. Each and every one of us has a different set of goals, and “success” looks different for all of us.
My friend and fellow B-School alumni, Becky, summed up what she saw as the value of B-School like this:
“Although the cost was initially intimidating, I recouped it over the years through marketing myself and other brands.
Since initially purchasing the course I have re-taken and dipped into the content and very useful bonuses multiple times. There really is every possible answer you could need. From advice directly from Marie via Q&A calls (alumni also get this), comments and Qs answered by team Forleo, a huge FB group community, excellent bonuses, and of course the course content itself.
If you’re looking for a strong foundation in digital marketing, then I highly recommend B-School. It’s a bit of a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know to launch an online business.”
For me, B-School success meant ending the course with a clearer sense of direction, feeling less overwhelmed, and being able to shift my working model towards one that doesn’t trade time for money, meaning I can pay myself a modest salary even on months when I’m taking time off to spend the school holidays with my daughters. This is what success means for me. I have no ambitions for a 6-figure business, or to have a team.
I’ve seen my fellow B-Schoolers grow their organisations and income in proportion with their personal goals and dreams, on all kinds of different scales; I suppose what I’m saying is that you get from B-School what you put in, what you need, and are willing to work for.
There’s so much information about what you can get out of B-School out there already, so I thought I’d share some thoughts from some fellow B-School alumni about specific situations they think B-School might not be right for someone. My hope is that this will help you make the wisest choice for you.
Remember, no course or programme or book can bring about change in your work or life by itself. It might be able to guide you to make that change, but it will always take work and commitment on your part. With that in mind, here are three situations when taking B-School might not be the right choice for you, right now.
1. You’re already flourishing, and don’t actually need (or want) any major changes
If you’re already pretty far along in your business journey, you’ve got your purpose and your ideal audience figured out, your business model and finances working pretty smoothly, and a steady stream of happy customers or clients, you probably won’t need B-School.
This was the case for a couple of B-School friends I spoke to:
“I had already worked through most of what she talked about, so while it was a good affirmation, it felt like an expensive one. The course really feels like it’s for people who are feeling lost or like chaos has set in, or are at the beginning. That said, it WAS interesting and solid material! But just not what I needed.”
“It would’ve probably been a better fit to go through before launching, or something to repeat as you are established to improve it over time.”
In my experience, B-School works best for people who are either ready to do the deep work of laying solid foundations for a new business, or are highly motivated to bring about a change in their existing business. I took B-School after diving head first into life as a freelancer, and it helped me pivot and start to think of my work as a coherent whole business that needed an overall strategy and direction, rather than living client project to client project (or article commission to article commission).
2. You don’t have the headspace to engage with a course
As my friend said, “I think success [with B-School] probably depends a lot on your frame of mind and reason for doing it.”
I’ve noticed this one with several online courses that I’ve taken; the students who seem disappointed with a programme tend to be the ones who didn’t finish it because they felt too overwhelmed by everything going on in their lives and work that they couldn’t find the mental energy to engage with a course. Or, perhaps they didn’t get on with the style of teaching, or were hoping for some kind of magic bullet to get them through a sticky patch in their business.
I don’t say that to shame anyone who’s ever taken a course and been disappointed with the results—there are plenty of not-so-great courses out there, and also plenty that are great for the right people, but if you’re not one of those right people, it’s not going to be great for you.
If you find yourself eagerly waiting for the free content someone shares (whether that’s their emails, podcasts, blog posts, articles, YouTube videos, social media posts), and love learning from them, that’s a great sign that you’ll get a lot from a course or programme that they’ve put together.
And, the reverse is also true: if you aren’t feeling that “ah-ha!” magic, and things just aren’t clicking when you engage with someone’s free content, you probably won’t get on that well with their paid products or services, either.
Side note: Tara McMullin’s podcast episode exploring the economics of information and care is absolutely fascinating. She looks at why people charge what they do for courses, group programmes, and coaching, and concludes that no one can sell a result, but the price really is about the care work that goes in to putting together and running a programme. As customers, it’s wise to invest understanding what they can give us, and the work we have to do to achieve the results we desire. An interesting rabbit hole to go down if you have the time and inclination.
Helpful questions to ask yourself when considering investing in B-School (or any other course or programme): what do I want to get out of this? What results would I need to consider this a successful investment? And what work would I have to put in to achieve those results?
3. What you really need is very specialist advice and support for a particular industry or niche
Another fellow B-Schooler (who subsequently became a client and friend of mine) shared with me that she felt, in retrospect, that B-School wasn’t right for her personally because what she really needed was advice and support specific to her industry. “I had taken a similar class before that was very specific to starting a fashion business,” she said. “Looking back on it, the person I took the class from probably took B-School and then tailored her class to fashion start ups. I think B-School is probably great for people who don’t know specifically what they what to do, or have the time to dive in, which I really didn’t. I’m sure if I had put more time in I would have got more out of it.”
Someone else I spoke to echoed her sentiments, and said she thought if you were a blogger wanting specific advice about brand collaborations and things like that, a more blogger-specific course might work better for you.
B-School is designed to be applicable for everyone, whatever their industry, type of business, or mission, and I think it does a really good job at that. But, if you already know your struggle is related to a very specific issue, you might want to consider a more niche course.
I really hope that this was helpful for anyone who’s struggling to figure out if B-School is right for them. If you read this and feel like you need some guidance starting or growing your business, you’re in an eager-to-learn frame of mind, and you’ve watched some of Marie’s free content and found yourself wanting to scribble down notes, B-School may well be just what you need to take your work to the next level.
My own expertise is in growing an audience online in a slow living-friendly way via search engine optimisation. If you’d like to learn more, you can get access to my free resource library for creative souls this way.