The inventory-to-internet switch may seem like a completely new way of running a business –but it doesn’t have to be.
March 4, 2021 6 min read
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The global e-learning market has been growing steadily for years.
At the end of 2019, it was valued at $187.877 billion. The need to work online and the demand for online educational services has only increased by the pandemic. Estimations for 2020 consider a value of over $200 billion and could rise to $376 billion by 2026. Switching to e-learning has led to an average income increase of 42% for U.S. organizations. Take the increased eyes on internet yoga lessons, for example. With the widely shared stress and anxiety due to the circumstances, a U.S. survey from April 2020 shows that 18% of respondents between the ages of 18 to 44 is very interested in learning yoga or meditation through online courses and 25% somewhat interested. Those are some really hopeful numbers.
1. Less is more
It’s clear there is a market for online yoga services, but switching from physical to digital services isn’t easy. It comes with anxieties surrounding financial goals, enrollment success and fears of failure. When it comes to launching online, many entrepreneurs find it’s best to plan based on the MVP principle and the Lean Start-Up Methodology.
MVP stands for minimum value product, meaning the manufacturing of a product with the minimum required features to be of value to customers, who’ll provide feedback for future development. Lean Start-Up is a methodology for starting a business or developing a product that is based on a built-measure-learn feedback loop that eliminates the uncertainty of the process and helps you quickly discover whether the endeavor will succeed and minimizes the losses with failure. I call it the “skinny launch” and it is based on the less is more principle. You won’t do unnecessary work and waste time while creating a template that you can reuse and expand on for the next launch. It makes the process less stressful and helps you build the confidence to keep moving forward with each succeeding launch.
2. Going online requires a mindset shift
Launching a product or service is thought to be a one-time event. That’s true for physical products or book launches: They’re introduced and shipped off to retail, perhaps with several waves of production. And that’s that.
When it comes to digital courses, launches are repeated. A workshop or one-on-one offering can be repeated throughout the year, and each time you do so you “launch” that product. When you open registration for your classes? That’s a launch. Because it’s repeated, it’s scalable and can be leveraged. Each time a launch was successful, you can take what you learned to expand the product and the audience.
3. Engineer a skinny launch
A skinny launch has two general phases. The pre-launch phase is when you get a clear picture of what you offer and to who: Is there a demand? Is your offer clear to the audience? Who makes up your audience and are you actively growing your reach?
While it’s commonly thought that the launch itself is the most work, the pre-launch phase takes up 70-80% of the work. This is what will set you up for succeeding. The launch phase concerns sales and enrollment. The whole process usually takes up about 60 to 90 days. You can tackle a launch with a lean team, you can even do it with a team of one!
The most important statistic that you want to have clear is your audience-enrollment rate. The industry standard to aim for is a 1% conversion of your views into paying customers. If you have an email list of 100 people and 300 followers on social media, your audience is 400 people and you need 4 of them to buy your service. If you need 4 people to meet the goal of your workshop, you’re in the clear. If you need more you’ll have to focus on growing the audience before launch. Of course, a mailing list based on advertising has a different weight from a mailing list grown organically from people who’ve attended past workshops. If you know how the list is built, who is on it, and how their interests line up with your offers, you’ll be able to make a better prediction of how many will enroll once you’ve launched.
4. Always be scaling
The great thing about serial launches is that you can automate the process: Write your emails in a document so you can just copy it into your email service when needed and you can easily adjust the template when you gain new insights. The same applies for social media content. Because of this, the return of investment should be considered over at least two launches, as your investments won’t be for just one launch and the first launch will take more time and effort than those following it and the payoff increases as you relaunch.
As last advice: Don’t be blind-sighted by social media bragging. Consider the emotional aspect of your enrollment goal: Why are you demanding that number? Is it realistic? Is that really needed for security, or are you spinning a false sense of control over the situation. Success is relative and could amount to nothing more than five people in a workshop at first launch. Focus on your brand, not the mirage of social media. It all depends on your true expenses and the needed return of investment.
Trust the process. If you successfully complete the pre-launch phase, you’ll know with relative certainty that you’re going to get enough people to break even upon launch.