As a teacher, Lynda Weinman’s goal was to make a living, make a difference, and reach lots of people. In 1995, Lynda and her husband Bruce Heavin created the online learning site lynda.com primarily as online support for her books and classes. Over time, lynda.com grew to become a leading online learning company offering thousands of courses teaching business, creative, and technical skills. “Ten years in I realized lynda.com had incredible potential. Our customer base was growing rapidly and we were hearing amazing feedback from learners about how the site was helping them achieve their goals—it was like a freight train.” In 2015 LinkedIn Corp. acquired lynda.com for $1.5 billion dollars.
Here are Lynda’s tips for making a big idea a reality.
Make it meaningful
Find a problem you want to help solve. In the process of creating lynda.com, I realized that there was such a hunger for the knowledge I was sharing and that technology changes fast. People were either unable to get this information through formal education, or they had already completed their education and needed to fill in some gaps to learn new skills or keep their skills current.
Know your market
Make sure that you have market validation. I knew I had it because my book sold well and my workshops grew by word of mouth. Other people think they have big ideas and get investors, but they don’t have proof they’re really filling a need in the market. It’s easy to get your product out there through social media and blogging, so you can find out if there’s a real value in it. Test the waters before you fully jump in.
Stick to what makes you happy and is your passion. The reality is that we have to make money, but that was never my sole motivator. It was always about how I could put my passion to work. I asked myself, “How can I do what makes me happy but also work on something purposeful that would make a real impact?”
Understand that there will be ups and downs. Make sure you’re in it for the long-haul. When you have down moments and feel resistance, you need to believe in yourself. Believe that what you’re doing has value and that every business has ups and downs. It’s about learning from those tough times, having unshakeable belief in your idea, and extreme patience
Ask for help
Have a support system and people to lean on when you feel discouraged—I have my husband. I also have a big network of girlfriends and business mentors. I recognize that I don’t have all the answers and am not shy about asking for help.
Just run with it
Several years into this journey, we realized that this idea—to help people learn the skills they need to be successful—had massive potential. Before long, we were the leader and we were impacting millions of people. We decided to push it as far as it could go and take it to the limit. If the idea is even bigger than you imagined, just keep going.
Sometimes working with family isn’t easy. How have you and your husband made it work?
It took a lot of practice and wasn’t always smooth or pretty. We made it work because we each brought something different to the table, and in the end, we really compliment one another. In tough times, we worked through challenges and got a better result.
Who saw something in you that you didn’t see in yourself?
I had a troubled childhood, but my grandmother on my father’s side always took the time to listen to me. Although we didn’t have much money, she always made a point to take me out and let me buy something I wanted. She was like my magic fairy godmother.