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New markets emerging in the online learning and development space are leading to an upshift in development efforts. In niche and generic areas, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) have begun reaching students online all over the world. Courses on any topic can now be accessed and sold online with ease. If someone wants to learn something today, they can get it pretty much anywhere. Belle Beth Cooper at Fast Company reports that Youtube reaches more US adults aged 18-34 than any other cable network. This increases the competitive space from paid eLearning solutions to also include free online courses.

Staying competitive in the eLearning industry requires a specialized focus on creation and distribution of your content. You must approach this as an entrepreneur as much as an educator. You need to stand out to your prospective students and customers from the get go in such a way that it keeps them coming back. Not only because of good content, but also because you make it easy for them to stay in touch with your latest and greatest.

Doing this alone is a daunting task: you have to coordinate a proper distribution channel, recruit the proper hosting service to ensure your courses aren’t inaccessible at odd times, and ultimately ensure the highest quality and engagement with your content. So what do you do? You seek out a partner. Someone who is an expert at managing the distribution and eCommerce aspects of your eLearning initiative while you focus on creating high-quality content.

Here are three qualities and benefits your partner should bring to you.

High technical expertise
You are about to engage in a relationship with a partner that promises to be the distribution channel for your eLearning courseware. This means hosting and selling courses online. Your partner must show not only show high technical knowledge of online data storage and server management for highest uptime, but also have a strategy to keep your data secure. Nicole Fallon lists data security as one of the biggest concerns for any business that wishes to keep their customers happy. Your partner should provide you with the peace of mind that all the data, yours and your customers’, is safe and secure.

Generate value
One of the biggest business drivers of any great partnership is how much value is brought to the table by all parties. Basically, is the sum of all parts greater than each part itself? The solution you choose to help you in your eLearning efforts should focus on driving value for you. If your partner ends up taking a majority of your revenue and delivers little opportunity for growth, you are getting the sour end of the deal. Your partner should focus on helping you reach your goals and deliver the highest return on investment on your decision to work with them. Value-driven pricing that helps you achieve your goals without busting your bank will help you achieve that level of comfort and confidence that can keep your initiative increasingly profitable for years to come.

Success and Service oriented.
To achieve success in your initiative, your partner must bring you solutions that consistently help you engage larger audiences in unexplored markets. Your efforts to engage untapped and conquered markets should be complemented by your partner’s contribution to your success. Do you need specialized features in your efforts to help drive rapid success? Your partner should be willing to listen and adapt to your needs and then provide solutions that help you get to your goals quicker.

Final thoughts
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. This quote has been attributed to many greats of our time but the message is timeless. Yes, you can always try to run your eLearning efforts, but as a SME, your efforts are most profitable when they’re focussed on creating great content that engages students on a deeply personal level. There are aspects to running your eLearning business such as eCommerce and web hosting that require expertise to manage and deploy correctly. Further, as you grow you realize that the tools you start out with are no longer adequate and that you must adapt. Industry experts that specialize in consulting on these aspects can become your biggest allies. Leverage your allies to generate value for yourself and your learners for the most sustainable model for growing your business.