The education industry in India holds a very important place and is home to the largest network of higher education institutions. The online education sector is expected to be valued at ~US$2 billion by 2021 and reach ~US$8.6 billion by 2021. The e-learning market is thriving with new businesses. The government of India is planning major investments, developments, incentives, and reforms that promote educational entrepreneurs.
If you already own an educational institution and are wondering ‘how to expand your business?’ Here are some business growth tips.
Things You Should Do
1. Strategic Planning
Strategic planning is absolutely necessary to run a successful educational institution. Understand the needs and create short-term plans that can have an immediate impact and long-term plans that impact in a broader and deeper manner. Understand the data, be on top of market trends, communicate with stakeholders to identify timely issues, collaborate and develop a plan.
Have specific plans and budgets allocated for various functions in the institution, like operations, curriculum development, policy changes, recruitment, etc?
2. Collaborative Leadership
Collaborative leadership is necessary to bridge the gap among stakeholders (internal and external). Bring all the departments together and create multiple opportunities to exchange synergies and learn from each other. Initiatives can range from strategising on scholarship programs, policy changes and additions, internship and placement programs, and more.
3. Effective Communication
Effective communication is the key to many things. Communicate with your management, students, and other workers who belong to the organisation. Actively listen and understand their interests, what’s working for them and what’s not. Involve them in problem-solving, make them feel responsible, respect their ideas. Communication works wonders and creates leadership instincts across levels.
4. Maintain Transparency
Maintain transparency in all processes across levels in the organisation. Let your institution management know about any policy/process changes and involve them as much as possible in decision-making. This promotes more inclusivity and responsibility, builds confidence among the students and management, and collectively, the institution becomes a better place.
5. Foster Innovation and Creativity
Educational institutions should promote innovation and creativity among students. Start an innovative cell and create incentives around it. Appreciate new ideas, support by providing resources and capital if needed, explore grants and collaborations with other partners who believe in this mission, coordinate with the management to create a high-quality, innovative environment. If you constantly wonder about ‘how to expand the business?’, innovation should be your focus area.
6. Management and Student First Culture
You must be confident and willing to take responsibility for the situation when it goes wrong. Protect the management and students even if they are to be blamed, take the blame. Have the best intentions for your management and students, and they’ll reciprocate it too.
7. Manage Change Efficiently
Change is difficult, and usually, educational institutions are resistant to change. Have a framework for change management and follow the best practices in the industry. Ensure that you develop flexible processes which can easily adapt when the institution needs to move to more efficient systems. Have clear ownership defined and include the management in the process? Make sure the faculty and students are inclined towards a more dynamic environment.
8. Maintain Diversity
It is very important to have a team with a diverse set of backgrounds. Each one adds a certain flavour which collectively adds a lot of value to the institution. It helps the institution grow. It is also great for the students to connect with and learn from diverse sets of interests, backgrounds, and skin colours.
Constantly think about how to expand the business? Great educational institutions provide an equal opportunity for students from various backgrounds of cultural and economic differences. This also makes students more empathetic towards different disparities and helps them grow into kinder and more accepting individuals.
9. Prevention of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is a universal problem. You should enable a safe and healthy environment in the institution free of hostility and toxicity. Develop policies and processes to curb it. Involve the faculty and students in the policy and decision-making process. This creates more inclusivity, and the individuals feel more responsible and involved in the program. Have training sessions, counselling sessions where you promote respect and have healthy relationships with one another.
10. Rewards and Recognition Programs
Scholarships play an important role in encouraging student behaviour. Scholarships based on the need and merit of students can bring a good brand value and attract outstanding talent for the schools and colleges. Providing scholarships and rewarding meritorious students encourage them to outperform their peers and keep hitting new benchmarks. Studies show that schools that have created scholarships have attracted 57% higher admissions than those who have not.
The last couple of years saw a transformation in the education industry with the paradigm shift towards new mediums of learning, as e-learning has taken shape with startups like Unacademy, Khan’s Academy taking the lead and bringing much educational content online. Many students are enrolling in courses outside of their curriculum. Schools and colleges must incorporate an e-learning strategy into their plan to provide students with a more holistic knowledge base. E-learning also provides certification courses that are widely accepted in the industry, and this will help students build their portfolio and resume and be ready for their career growth.
Things You Should Avoid Doing
1. Compromise on Faculty Qualifications
Have good quality teaching management in the institution. They should be able to convey ideas and concepts clearly, create a comfortable environment for the students and be able to nourish their growth. Research states that student satisfaction levels are higher with experienced faculty.
2. Rush the Admission Process
Don’t rush the admission process just to fill the positions or reach the financial targets. Wait for the right talent pool. It is always advisable to have the process streamlined and the deadlines flexible before the admission process begins. Develop student recruitment initiatives and put in place programs to facilitate widening participation.
The right admission process should evaluate the student based on academic, leadership, analytical, and ethical perspective to bring in the right mix of students into the educational institution. Students play a large role in setting the culture of the institution and take the legacy forward. Hence, investing in the right admission process is the first step towards building an institution and should definitely not be rushed.
3. Trade-Off Quality of Education
Have the right quality and quantity of resources, infrastructure, curriculum, and processes for the institution. The quality of education is directly proportional to producing more successful individuals, which adds to the success of the educational institution. If you wonder ‘how to grow a business?’, this is one aspect where you shouldn’t compromise.
4. Keep Your Finances With People You Don’t Trust
Don’t rely on informal contracts/agreements in your business. Having written agreements ensures the safety and also clearly states the partner’s rights and contributions to the businesses. When you are onboarding a new investor or business partner, make sure they’re trustworthy. Many institutions fall apart here.
5. Compromise on Ethics
Having a code of ethics helps in running the system smoothly. Compromising might lead to financial and academic fraud. Have stringent policies and a code of conduct.
6. Take Things Personally
It is very common to have disagreements across multiple levels in an institution, with stakeholders belonging to diverse backgrounds. You, as the leader, must follow and inculcate in everyone that it is the nature of the position that these things occur, and we must not take things personally and should start every day afresh.
All in all, whether you are a new business owner of an educational institution or already head one, these are things you should keep in mind at every stage of your business. The key answer to the question “how to grow business?” or “how to expand the business?” is to maximise the quality and experience for the faculty and students while optimising costs.
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Q. Why start a business in the education sector?
Ans. The education sector contributes 5% of GDP. It is a massive market with its unique challenges. Each challenge creates a business opportunity for passionate entrepreneurs. One difference compared to traditional businesses is that the decisions impact the lives and futures of millions of students, which makes it a very sensitive and satisfying business.
Q. What are the best business ideas in the education sector in India?
Ans. The e-learning market is booming. When the pandemic hit in 2020, the market gained traction. You can start online tutoring, hobby classes, and more. You can also explore building an entrepreneurial college, an online library, a teacher’s resources platform, innovative educational toys, tutor finder application, etc.
Q. What skills do we need to be successful in this sector?
Ans. Problem-solving skills, stakeholder management, planning and administration capabilities, financial management, and market research are the major skills required to start a successful and profitable business in this sector.