Learning Business Ideas: How to Start a Learning Business Part 2

In the first post in this series, I talked about finding the why behind starting a learning business. You’ve probably already given some thought about the next step, which is identifying an area to focus on in your learning business. In this post, I’m going to lay out a framework for generating and choosing learning business ideas. (If you already know exactly what your business idea is then you can skip to the next post on products and services).

Step 1: Identify Types of Learning Businesses

There are many, many types of learning businesses. I cover several common types in this post about popular business models for learning businesses. Learning professionals have started all kinds of businesses—if you know or follow educators who have started their own business, try to identify the business model they are using. The more examples you explore, the easier it will be to identify a model that speaks to you.

Here are some examples to help get your research started:

Step 2: Compile Your List of Example Learning Business Ideas

Before you decide on one specific area of focus for your learning business, I recommend generating a list of possible ideas. Create a document that includes links to existing learning businesses that are out there, and write a summary of what they offer and how they generate revenue.

Warning: Limit the time you spend on researching ideas. As learning professionals, we can have the tendency to over-research and not ever take action. That is not what you want to do here! Make sure you’re only doing enough research to inform and inspire you—not overwhelm and discourage you.

Step 3: Focus on What You Want

Using that list of examples, describe what appeals to you about those learning businesses and what does not appeal to you.

Some questions to ask yourself: Do I want to be dependent on someone else’s schedule or do my work on my own time? Do I want to create products or provide services? What time of day do I like to work? If money were no object, what would I do with my time?

Step 4: Narrow Down Your Options

Based on the criteria you developed in the previous step, narrow down your options to what you can actually see yourself doing. What inspires you? What resonates with you? Can you visualize creating a business like this? What problems do these businesses solve? What problems can you help solve? 


The next step is to choose just one of those ideas to focus on. But we’re not going to do that just yet… think on your top choices until we release our next post on choosing what you should offer.

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