Start an E-Learning Business From Scratch – Profitable Business Plan

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a student taking e-learning class

With the changing times, methods of learning have also evolved. From the ancient methods of education like the Gurukul system to this day of modern learning, we have come a long way. E-learning is one such method of learning that is becoming popular day by day. Though it is not equivalent to a school or a college degree, but is a very unique and powerful source of learning.

Especially when we are in tumultuous times of a pandemic that has led to a complete shutdown of schools and universities, e-learning has now become a norm. Using your phone or computer with a proper internet connection, you can have access to online educational content by remaining seated to the comforts of your home.

Various reports say that since the start of Covid-19 pandemic, the world has seen a quantum jump in e-learning where people are more willing to subscribe to online methods of learning. AP report says that by 2024, e-learning business will see a 10% growth rate making it a market of worth $21.64 billion in the United States.

Thus, tapping into even a small portion of this market will be very rewarding for those young entrepreneurs who are aiming to invest into this business. E-learning business is also quite competitive and challenging since many players are into this business and it is still very difficult to figure out the right business model.

We are here to help you out with this through this article where we will chalk out a business plan that will give you a better understanding of e-learning business and how to proceed ahead.

A Brief Contemplation before you start:

Before you move ahead to take any step, it is necessary for you to contemplate on various aspects of your e-learning business. The resources you have in your hands, the financial aspect, the scale at which you will run your business, the complexity involved, and lastly, the return you expect.

If you have a grand plan with enough resources and capital in hand, you can very well proceed for a grand start but if you have limited resources and capital then you must proceed with caution and smartness. 

There are various aspects in an e-learning business which must ponder on before you start. A well thought strategy will help you in avoiding later day chaos which can be an impediment for your growth and success. Some of these aspects are:

  • The aspect of Resource mobilization
  • The Financial aspects
  • The scale and size of your opening business
  • The future in mind for your business
  • The complexity involved
  • The return you expect from your business in a given time period

Aspects of E-Leaning Business Model

There are two aspects to your e-learning business model. The first is the simplistic model and the second is the complex model. 

Simplistic Model:

Simplistic model is where you need limited resources, money and intellectual investment to start your business. Like a classroom on YouTube or Google Classroom where you can offer learning classes to your viewers and subscribers. For those who have paid a subscription fee, you can add them into a Google Classroom and teach them exclusively.

You can circulate study material which can be in PDF of hard copy and charge them a definite price for the same. People with limited resources and budget often choose this model as it is way easier with lesser chance of loss. 

There are multiple advantages with this model as you can start your business with limited investment and as you grow with growing viewers and subscribers, you can introduce new features for your subscribers. 

Secondly, with limited investment, the chance of loss is less and you can always take assessment of your success and failure and take steps accordingly. Though you will have a limited market in your hand but as when you feel that you can grow, you can at any point of time diversify your business.

The Complex Model:

This model is way different from the former as it requires lots of resource mobilization, capital investment, intellectual investment, hard work and planning. Given the fact that there is always much competition in this sector, you will have to be very professional and sharp with your business.

This model can be called as an academy model where one has to offer dedicated e-learning service basically through an app or website with a proper structure of services, class access, faculties, course material, etc. 

Many of these types of platforms can easily be seen in the market that offer subscription based services. They offer comprehensive e-learning services for various niches like STEM courses, comprehensive school learning courses, higher studies entrance study material, university level courses and many more.

Six Components of a Profitable E-Leaning Business Plan

You need to now get into the details of designing and preparing the blueprint of your e-learning business by focusing on certain aspects of your business. Some of these aspects are:

  • Investors, Stakeholders and your Core Team of Associates
  • Your Audience and Target Market
  • Your Niche and Deliverables 
  • Content Type, Intellectual Property and Resource Mobilization
  • Investment and Operational Costs
  • Future Course of your Business and Marketing

#1. Investors, Stakeholders and your Core Team of Associates

Based on the scale of your business, you will have to determine the structure of your e-learning business. Are you going to start it all alone on your own or you want to collaborate with other people on various aspects like investment, resource mobilization, core team, organizational structure, tech support and many more.

You will also have to determine the scale of your business. Whether it will be a simplistic model or the complex model and only after that you will be able to move ahead. 

You will also have to form your core team of associates who will help you on various aspects especially in starting and incorporating your business. From building the core framework, to planning the design, blueprint, etc. 

#2. Your Audience and Target Market

Who will be your audience and target market? Whether they will be students, scholars, general public, college students, school going students, students preparing for entrance exams, etc. 

There can also be primary and secondary audiences. Primary audiences are those for whom you will specially design your content. They will be your core audience. The secondary audience will be those who may not be primarily concerned with the core content but may use it for specific purposes.

The number of audience or subscribers you aim to gather at a particular period of time. The type of audience based on their social, economic, gender, regional background will also matter for which you need to chalk out your strategy.

#3. Your Niche and Deliverables

What will be the specific niche on which you will make your content? Will it be school courses, university courses, STEM, law, entrance exam courses, or something else?

This is up to you to determine based on the input you get through research. What is more in demand and what can give you a wide audience base. Ponder over it to reach a conclusion. If you want to rely on a niche on which you are a master then it is perfectly fine as it will be easier for you to design the content. 

Selecting a niche also depends on the resource you have at your hand. You can obviously start small and grow big over a period of time. You can diversify your niche as well. 

As you select the niche, you will have to move ahead with the content planning. You have to design and plan the following:

  • Length of course and duration
  • Syllabus and course along with time and duration of classes
  • Hard copy and soft copy of course material 
  • Covering various aspects of that niche in your course addressing to different set of students
  • Medium of instruction and mode of instruction.
  • Addition of graphics, pictures, charts and templates

#4. Content Type, Intellectual Property and Resource Mobilisation

Your content should meet the standards at least and you should try to be even better than others. Make use of technology in order to offer better understanding of the subject in your study material and online lectures.

It is obvious that you will create your own content with the help of educators, teachers and various books at your helm. There will also be instances where you may need to lift content from other platforms and therefore you may require the permission of the author concerned.

Not only the video part, but you will also be required to draft course materials in writing for your audience to consume. You can offer them both in soft and hard copy. Since you are creating your content, ensure that it is well copyrighted under the provision of law so that there is no misuse. 

You also need resource mobilization in the form of a diverse library full of books, articles, journals, etc. on the given subject. You also need the assistance of experts, teachers and subject professionals. To boost the standard of your content, you may also be required to collaborate with subject experts who come as guest lecturers on a particular topic.

All this needs to be planned beforehand in order to be well prepared. Take help of those who are already in this field.

$5. Investment and Operational Cost

Depends on the scale and complexity of your e-learning business. If you want to go solo on YouTube, it is not very costly but if you want to start a dedicated and comprehensive e-learning platform, then it requires a good sum of money along with operational cost.

A thorough feasibility analysis based on your business plan needs to be done in order to determine the investment required based on the service you are offering and at what scale. You can look up to other e-learning platforms to get an idea regarding investment.

From managing your platform website, e-classroom, to paying your employees, teachers, developers, tech support team, etc. requires a lot of investment. This needs to be planned in advance before you proceed.

Operational cost is not a one-time investment and it increases and decreases based on requirements. One has to allot a certain sum of money for monthly expenditure. Therefore, you must think and plan accordingly. 

The head office, your core team, tech support, operational cost of the online ecosystem, software cost, maintenance cost and other such expenditures needs to be managed. You may also be required to pay your staff for basic infra and utilities. 

One must have capital enough to survive one year before relying on the returns coming from your subscribers. Plan it accordingly as any miscalculation will only lead you towards more loans, bankruptcy and failure of business.

#6. Future Course of your Business and Marketing

You have started and have seen a steady growth in your business. Then what ahead?

Are you going to diversify your niche or you are going to offer something different and better in the same niche?

There are also other modes of advancing like switching to better technology, your personal app, website, call support, advanced study material, improved faculty, teachers and experts. There is a lot you can think and diversify on.

Don’t remain stagnant at one place if you are witnessing growth. At least five years are needed before you seriously think about profit. Obviously, profit should be one of your goals but providing the best services to your subscriber should always be your priority.

In noble professions like teaching, it would be better to rely on word of mouth which comes from your subscribers. Obviously, that will take its own sweet time but you can also use different channels of advertising and marketing.

Best of them all is social media marketing through digital marketing. It is not that costly and you can run your ads over a brief period of time.

Try to post contents on YouTube and other such social media platforms to interact with your audience. Before they subscribe to you, they need a trial to determine whether your content and service is as per their need or not.

Interact with them and attract them towards your products and services. Give them some incentive and communicate with them on a personal basis. That is the best way to move forward.

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