When you start and grow a business selling courses or some other e-learning focused product, then it pays dividends to occasionally turn your attention inward.
The mantra in business is to “always grow”. I am not hear to argue that point. Growth is a natural part of a successful business. If you’re not growing, you’re probably going the opposite direction and that’s not quite as fun.
Chances are you have heard a lot of advice when it comes to growing your e-learning business. The typical stuff like:
- Tap into content marketing
- Invest into Facebook/Google ads
- Speak at conferences to build brand awareness
- Collaborate with similar businesses to grow your audience
- Use XYZ app or software tool.
This advise is given because it works when implemented properly. Heck, you could focus on just one of these to build business awareness and it would do very well for you.
But there is something that people don’t often mention and I happen to believe it to be one of the most important aspects to staying relevant, growing your brand, and ultimately increasing revenue.
Every so often you should shift your attention from the outward tasks and turn it inward on your business.
The strategies I listed above are “outward” focused. It is about getting your brand, message, and product out there in order to grow. What I am advocating is that you also take the time to focus on the things within your business today that could be improved, eliminated, or added so that you can continue to offer value to your existing (and future) customers.
In the context of online courses this can be as simple as revisiting the content and presentation to ensure that it isn’t going stale, something that is all to common in today’s online education space.
It can also mean taking a moment at your customer on-boarding process. Are people getting tripped-up at a certain point? If so, it’s time to think of some ways that you can improve this and then test that new process.
Perhaps you are using an e-commerce solution that hasn’t grown with you as your business has grown. Well, this is when you would address the tools that are no longer aligned with your next phase.
Turning inward is harder than it sounds.
Not because it is hard to do or hard to figure out what to do. It’s because it often means taking a break from the outward activities.
By way of example, in 2015 we halted new development for our software so that we could restructure and rewrite our code. It was a massive undertaking and required us to bring in some extra help to get it done. Our competition was coming out with new functionality and people were excited. On our end things appeared quiet, but in reality we were investing inwards so that we could go further. It paid off for us back then and it is something that we are doing again today as we prepare for the 3.0 version of our learning management system.
I won’t lie: this process can be stressful. I think this is a major reason why so many businesses build their products and then just move forward, only making small iterations. They fear losing market share.
The truth is that you will lose more market share over the long-haul if your course is deemed as “dated”. That’s not a perception that you want to have to combat.
Try this little exercise.
If it has been a few years since you have focused inward with your own e-learning business then I encourage you to try a little exercise.
Start by writing down all the pain points that you have with the way your business runs (from an internal perspective). Next, map out the common complaints or issues that your customers have when interacting in your business. With the two lists in hand look to see if there are any similarities. Maybe resolving one will help out with another.
Narrow down your list to one or two (no more than three) improvements that you believe will have the greatest impact for you and your customers. Once you have this list, well it’s time to get to work! :