Six lessons From Six Months Of The Hundred Dollar Club – Part One

Back in July, I was given $100 with the instructions

       Start a project, surprise someone, or do something entirely different.

With it, on August 1st I started The Hundred Dollar Club.  Just over 6 months on, I think it’s time to review some outputs to date. What have I learned? What has THDC achieved? How have I changed?

I’m going to do this in three parts, of which this is the first: What I’ve learned about Running a community?

1 – One size does not fit all

We’re a diverse group of folks, which is what makes our community great. But it also means that one schedule for everyone doesnt work.

Initially I set out some weekly “tasks” which were great when they applied to everyone [Such as introduce yourself, describe your idea etc] but just don’t work when people are at different stages of their journey.

People who want to break out of a day job and into their own gig seemed to respond well to structure, accountability and deadlines. This doesn’t seem to work as well for those who have already “escaped”. Perhaps no surprise, but the idea of a structured escape plan is an interesting one which I’d like to revisit in the future.

If everyone were doing the same thing – say it was a group of people all starting a blog from scratch, I think a set curriculum would be perfect, but this community needs more freedom than that.

2 – Everyone can learn from everyone else

This possibly shouldn’t be a surprise, but frankly I’m amazed at the insight that comes from unexpected places. It can be too easy to listen to the “gurus” in your industry or niche, and miss an idea that seems obvious to someone with another background. Creating a hugely diverse group really brings new perspectives to a problem.

3 – Activity happens in peaks and troughs

Participants feed off each others enthusiasm and energy, and want to help each other. When there is a problem to solve or question to answer, THDC members are there. Part of leading a community seem to be encouraging these topics to emerge, not pushing every topic yourself.

4 – There is always a drop out rate

I can only say that I suspect this, having run only this one community, but I see consistent feedback from other groups, and it seems logical.

We started with 22 members, about 18 posted their bio update in the first week, and after 6 months we have 13 active members.

I think there are two learnings from this. The first is that numbers don’t mean everything in this space – a smaller more focussed group seems to be working well for us, and the “drop out” rate of 40% doesn’t matter a jot in terms of usefulness of the group.

The second learning is it’s OK not to be for everybody – what we do works for those who it works for, and if it doesn’t for others, that’s OK.

5 – Starting from scratch is a good thing

When people are introduced to the group at the same time, I think it’s easier to participate. People can be more open when they are all “new” at the same time and there aren’t any established figures. Ongoing forums or groups tend to have their long standing members, who are very well established, and know exactly how it works. This can be great, but can also be a little intimidating for new members. Having everyone start at the same time seems to be a good leveller, and allow everyone’s voice to be heard.

6 – You don’t run a community, you can only contribute and lead

The members of THDC don’t need someone to “run” the community. They don’t need rules and moderation, they just want a place to interact, and some topics to interact around.

I set up the place, and I’ve then learned that it’s my job to lead with interaction if needed, not drive the topic of every conversation.

There is definitely a balance to be struck between providing a framework then getting out of the way, and being there to help things along when needed.

I haven’t always got this right, but we’re learning to do this as group, and guess what – it seems to be working!

Look out for part two next week: What The Hundred Dollar Club Members Have Achieved So Far…

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  1. [...] two of the THDC update is probably more important than what I learned. It’s all about what the club members have been up [...]

  2. [...] talked about lessons I’ve learned, and projects which we’ve started but this short post is about my personal [...]

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