The global crisis that began in 2020 has been a gamechanger for sure, but it has not thrown learning professionals out of the game – quite the opposite. E-learning has become the very present of education instead of its future. The workforce has been severely disrupted, and many people found themselves having to reskill to stay competitive. That is also a point in favor of online learning.
With 2021 starting with new hope, there’s room for new strategies, adapted to cautious times, yet bold enough to drive the business forward and ensure its success. Here are a few items that should be on your "must-do" entrepreneurial list.
If you have made it through the tumult of last year, you must already be on the right track. As the saying goes, "there is no rest for the weary."
Having a small online course business has one great advantage over big corporations (with all their capital). Smaller units can shift focus quickly and find a better direction without delays caused by extensive change management processes.
The better you get at pivoting when situations call for it, the easier it will be for you to not only stay in business but become successful by giving the market what it asks for and adapting to customer demands.
Be mindful of your digital footprint
This was important before; it is paramount now. Even if life will slowly go back to normal and we will all leave the safety of our houses more often, the major shift that happened in the way we choose products and services is here to stay.
All online platforms (social media, professional networks, or streaming services) have seen significant traffic increases. You need to not only be where your customers are but also be visible and relevant.
Taking the time to build and nurture a community around your brand will have a very positive pay-off, so it’s important to invest in this.
Be active in your local community
This should happen both online and offline. This time of unprecedented upheaval has brought people together, and local networks have become stronger and more influential than before the pandemic. People understand the importance of keeping whatever wealth they have in their community, and that’s why they are keen to support their own.
You need to advertise your business locally, do your best to choose your own suppliers in the community, and do your part in the collective effort. It will count as a bonus point for the people in the network and all others who feel it’s the right thing to do in such circumstances.
Rely on digital data
Every decision has to fall back on data, especially when you’re mapping out your strategy. Big data is an established thing, and AI has by now been incorporated into every site and every gadget. It would be foolish not to use the immense potential of AI data analysis to your advantage.
As I have mentioned in the first point on your 2021 to-do list, agility is the key to moving forward. You can only know the direction you should be taking if you have enough information about learner habits and competitor actions, at the right time.
Therefore, you must dive into the workings of data-driven digital strategies when making business decisions.
You need to collaborate with other entrepreneurs in your niche (and outside of it) if your profiles match and you can help each other. Just like in the case of local networks, joint ventures are a good way of coming together for the common good in turbulent times. Entering these will minimize the risks of placing all your eggs in one basket and also provide diverse business opportunities.
However, these associations must be congruent with your vision and mission statement. Otherwise, instead of gaining a new customer base, you’ll end up losing your own.
Cultivate customer reviews
Reviews will be the key to your standing out from the competition. With budgets becoming tight everywhere, people will be increasingly careful when parting with their pennies. An eye-catching presentation and cleverly crafted marketing tagline will account for nothing without excellent user reviews to back them up.
Even reviews that bring some criticism are better than none if you can do a good job of addressing their concerns. Authenticity is important; otherwise, people will notice and sanction you.
It’s going to be an exciting ride for us all in 2021. Entrepreneurs, especially those in the field of e-learning, have their work cut out for them, but it's also a time of immense opportunity you’d better take advantage of.