In this article, I will explain why choosing a focus is the next logical step in developing our eLearning business.
When I started freelancing, I wasn't quite sure in which direction I wanted to go. I thoroughly enjoyed building content, but was also aware of the limitations of what could be achieved on my own as a ‘freelancer’.
Outsourcing parts of the project
When my marketing efforts began to bear fruit, I started to take on more projects. This led me to start outsourcing certain components of each project.
This began with outsourcing some graphic design work. By passing on some of the responsibility to specialist designers, I was able to take on more of the storyboarding and development work myself.
And as it turned out, there were much better graphic designers out there than me too!
Then when even more projects started to appear, I had a choice - turn down the work and remain a solo freelancer, or start scaling my business.
I decided to look for more opportunities to outsource. I began to work with another eLearning developer who shared the responsibility of creating the content.
And it may not be a suprise to hear that this guy was better at development than me too - can you see a pattern forming?!
Around each project we started to develop standard processes, in order for myself and this newly assembled team to communicate effectively and limit the amount of back and forth needed within each project.
In essence we were creating a production line for content.
Before I knew it, within two or three projects, I was running a small eLearning development agency. I was no longer ‘just’ a freelancer, and I loved this!
We had the ability to take on bigger projects, have more say on a strategic level and deliver more valuable work to bigger clients.
So what's next?
Today I am running a small, lean, eLearning development agency. We can take on large projects and deliver incredible quality content for customers who may not have the budget to bring in some of the bigger eLearning vendors.
The processes and tactics that we use to create content are similar no matter who the client.
So our next goal is to choose one specific focus or niche. This will allow us to become experts, build up a library of assets relevant to our chosen focus - and deliver more value to our clients.
The way I see it, there are three ways to specialise. We could specialise by:
- Industry vertical (for example healthcare, finance, etc.)
- Technology (developing only with Storyline, Captivate, Adapt etc.)
- Style of learning (software training, scenario-based learning, mobile learning etc.)
So which niche will we choose?
We have yet to definitively decide which niche we plan to serve. However, I am feeling a pull towards positioning the agency by market vertical (i.e. construction, telecommunications, finance etc.)
Well mainly by a process of elimination. One of the issues I see with niching by technology is that the technology we specialise in may become redundant one day. Or more importantly, it may simply just not be the best tool for the job.
The other alternative is specialising by type of learning (i.e. scenario-based learning or mobile learning).
However, the issue with this type of focus is that often the client won't know the best type of learning to achieve the desired outcome for their project.
Therefore, we do not want to force them into a particular type of learning which may not be ideal for their situation.
Niching by market vertical
And that leaves us with picking a niche by market vertical. I have experience in a few different industries. But I want to pick a focus that interests me but that also has scope for growth and ultimately profit.
I will follow up with another article in the next few months, hopefully that will keep us accountable and moving in the right direction on this.
We are at the beginning of our journey into developing an eLearning agency and have yet to prove that focusing on a niche will help move our business in the right direction.
But I expect that it will do. And am excited to try it out!
Have you focused your business? How has it worked out for you?
If you enjoyed reading this article, don't miss out on my free 5-day email crash course - 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an eLearning Project.
And I should also give props to my 'niching mentor' Philip Morgan, who has played an valuable part in helping me reach this decision. His free crash course on picking a niche is really excellent.