Online Learning Business Model: Four Questions to Identify Growth Opportunities

Emily McLaughlin
Mar 27, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Before you begin drafting course outlines and creating unique learning materials, it’s important to do your research. Start by identifying opportunities and then craft a comprehensive online learning business model around your findings.

According to John Leh, CEO and lead analyst at Talented Learning, smart buyers spend a lot of time in this initial research phase.

“It’s the old Field of Dreams cliche," says Leh. "Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they are going to come.” In other words, there must be a need for your learning content.

Leh was joined for a recent webinar on this topic by our own CEO and co-founder Barry Kelly. The pair tag-teamed to review four important questions to ask during this initial stage.

Are you fulfilling the market opportunity?

The first question businesses should ask before solidifying an online learning business model is, “Am I fulfilling the market opportunity?” Spend a lot of time researching your industry and the current market offerings, and then ask, “Am I maximizing the market demand?”

Identify what your learners will find most useful and create an online learning business model that aligns with market realities.

Are you staffed for growth?

Ready, set… wait. To create a fully-functioning learning business, your organization must be staffed with an adequate number of subject matter experts, course designers, course leaders, support staff and other key players. Ask, “Do I have enough staff and expertise to scale my learning business at the desired volume and speed?”

Do you have the correct infrastructure?

After identifying a market opportunity and assessing whether or not you are staffed for growth, it’s time to take a look at technology. Do you have scalable technology and management systems in place to grow your online learning business? If you are starting with homegrown solutions, always ask questions about scalability. What will you need to do to grow?

Can you diversify product offerings?

By the time you’ve reached question #4, you identified a market opportunity, you assessed your staff and you made a decision about technology requirements. Next it’s time to address how to diversify product offerings and maximize your assets.

At Thought Industries, Kelly calls these assets “learning experiences.” A learning experience could be anything from the delivery of short-form information all the way to a two-year certification program. “It’s important for organizations to think a lot about the product creation process and where opportunity lies there. How you are maximizing the assets and subject matter expertise you have? Those are really important conversations as you’re setting up for growth,” explains Barry Kelly.

Listen to Leh and Kelly’s full webinar presentation,“Paving the Way to a Profitable Learning Business: 5 Successful Strategies.”

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