As the events of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) unfolded during the start of 2020 it became clear to me that our industry, the online education market, was about to shift in a significant way.
While our present focus is to do our utmost to contain the virus and save lives, as things eventually return to normal, it won’t be the same normal. The impact of this experience will have lasting effect. When you quarantine an entire planet’s population there are ramifications.
What you’re about to read is an excerpt from the introduction of a new handout I am currently writing on the topic of Flagship Courses. This was — and still is — a brand new free resource I will release later in the year.
As I was writing the handout and the virus shut down our lives, I realized that what I was sharing was going to be far more important than I first thought. I began to see the connection between so many people losing their jobs and many more switching to work from home, and how this could potentially impact the online education space.
I immediately went back and wrote a brand new introduction to my handout that explains the shift I see coming, focusing on how this impacts us as online educators. What you can read below, is that introduction in first draft format.
Of course my thoughts here are only my estimations of how things may play out. I could be wrong, but if I’m right, even partially, and you’re someone who sells online education, you need to pay attention as this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I wish this shift didn’t have to come from something that causes so much suffering, yet I remind myself and also you, that for us teachers and coaches, one of the best ways we can help is to teach and coach.
Now is the time to prepare to deliver your best work.
The World Changed In 2020
In February 2020 I began writing a handout on a flight from Toronto to Los Angeles.
This handout was to be my first significant new free training resource in years, covering a topic I’ve been eager to focus on – Flagship Courses.
At the time, the coronavirus was hitting China hard. The rest of the world started to take notice, but life continued as usual outside of China.
Fast-forward to a month later. I was in Maui visiting Mitch Wilson, a previous coaching client who became a good friend. The news had just broken that the NBA basketball season was postponed indefinitely because a player had tested positive for the virus.
Mitch’s business is all about sport. He thought he was recession-proof because sport never stops. It turns out, that’s not true.
Over the next couple of days all the major sports leagues closed down, the stock market began to tumble, and countries went into lockdown.
I was scheduled to fly back home to Canada, which at the time was still open to air traffic. The USA had just stopped all travel to and from Europe. It was clear that as the virus spread, the entire world was going to go into lockdown.
The choice I faced was whether to wait out the virus in Maui, which as you can imagine is not a bad place to be quarantined, or head back to Canada. As a Canadian citizen it would be better to be in Canada if I needed healthcare, plus I could quarantine in my own apartment. I decided to fly home.
A Pandemic Experience No One Expected
On my flights back from Maui to Montreal I wrote the rest of the outline for my handout.
I felt confident I had something that would make a huge impact on people who run a business selling their knowledge online, especially if they were stuck earning just enough to make a living. I was especially excited to explain why a Flagship Course is THE best product to sell in 2020 and beyond.
However, it hadn’t dawned on me yet that the timing for what I was about to share was unique, potentially a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
When I got back to Canada I began a two week self-quarantine at home. All returned travellers were meant to do this. I had no problem complying.
I was even feeling a little excited as I could focus on writing and working with my remote team, all from home. I was also feeling the anxiety that everyone felt, given there was a deadly virus spreading around the world.
Although my work situation was largely unchanged, for many people, especially people who owned or worked in retail stores, in-person services, travel, tourism, hospitality, restaurants and so many other industries, work completely stopped. That meant no income for millions of people.
Governments were closing down all aspects of life as we know it. Besides food and medical care, everything else was on pause — and we all had to stay home to make sure the hospital system was not overloaded, to flatten the curve (the virus distribution curve).
This was a new world, one we didn’t see coming just a couple of months ago.
A Shift In How We Work, Learn And Live
In this new world, the one thing we still have is the Internet. Remote work went mainstream. Zoom calls and Slack chats became everyone’s workplace.
The virus lockdown is a ‘shock’ moment. It hits hard, life changes dramatically for a brief period, then things clear up and everyone is back to doing what they do.
However, there are going to be lasting ramifications long after the virus is gone from our newsfeeds. I’m not just talking about the second and third order economic impact (shutting down the entire world has huge roll-on financial effects), but also societal shifts too.
The big shift that you need to pay attention to is this: The remote life movement will no longer be just for tech people.
Working from home, learning from home, grocery shopping from home — these are things people knew about and dabbled with, but for many, the quarantine experience is the first time they had to make it their day-to-day life.
While no one wants to be quarantined, this forced change will surprise people, as they realize some aspects of life are better.
You don’t have to commute every day, you can study at your own pace at home, spend more time with your family, and still collaborate with others and get work done.
The last point I think is especially important.
A lot of companies — I’d argue a majority — are stuck in a very old way of thinking. You have to be in an office for a certain amount of time five days a week and you have to see each other face-to-face for meetings. This is how things get done.
While your boss might be open to you spending a few days working from home now and then, if you suggest working two days a week at home PERMANENTLY, they will quickly say no. That’s too radical an idea.
The quarantine period was a massive work-from-home experiment that no boss could say no to.
For some companies the result will be positive. Work still got done, less time was wasted, and people still communicated.
What may surprise people is how much more efficient work became. Employees can produce the same output, or even more, in less time, without the commute, wasted time in meetings, people interrupting their flow — all problems they don’t have at home.
Now of course this is not the case for all industries. Many can’t do what they do at home. But for millions of people, the virus forced a shift in focus away from where work is done, to the work itself, a vital change in mindset.
The virus forced a shift in focus away from where work is done, to the work itself, a vital change in mindset.
The Newly Unemployed Look To Take Back Control
There’s one group of people I haven’t discussed yet. Unfortunately, a very large group who felt the most impact from the snap-lockdown that shocked the globe.
Those who work in industries who couldn’t shift to a work-from-home model, lost their jobs.
If you were employed by an airline, hotel, restaurant, hair salon, sports club, bar or music venue, retail store – anything where people meet in person – chances are you were fired or furloughed (temporarily fired).
For many small businesses, and even large companies like airlines and restaurant chains, they operate on such small margins, if they close up shop and have no revenue coming in, there’s not enough cash in the bank to survive two weeks. The first thing to go in this situation are jobs.
As I type this, in the USA a record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment support, and this was just the first wave.
Imagine you are one of these people. One day you were working hard living your normal life. You didn’t expect a complete shutdown of everything, leaving you without work for an unknown period of time.
After the shock wears off and you figure out how to meet your immediate financial needs, possibly from loans, selling assets, dipping into savings or from government emergency support programs, your mind switches to how to make sure this never happens to you again.
You want to take back control.
Ideas like starting a side hustle, freelancing, learning how to better manage your finances so you have a bigger savings buffer, diversifying income streams so you’re not reliant on only one source, remote work, learning new skills to get a higher paying job, and so on, all float through your mind.
Where do you turn to figure all this out? The Internet of course.
The one benefit of being fired is you have time. That time can be invested into education, to learn new skills, to start a side hustle, to look for remote work, to become the boss rather than the victim.
After the lockdown ends, people who were suddenly fired may return to their jobs, but they won’t be the same. The desire to feel stable and in control, prepared for the next surprise change, will not disappear. The consumption of education as a first-step antidote will continue.
A Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity
By now you have started to see the picture I am painting for entrepreneurs who sell education online.
The new ‘remote-working’ class will increase in size tremendously. They work with far less latency and distractions, and they use their energy far more efficiently. The result is having more spare time.
These people have a big opportunity to utilize all this unlocked extra time. Netflix and YouTube no doubt will eat up some of it, but for millions of people, they will do something very important — they are going to turn to the Internet to learn new things.
For millions of people, they are going to do something very important — they are going to turn to the Internet to learn new things.
Those who lost their jobs face an even more urgent need to change their circumstances, and have entire days worth of spare time to invest how they see fit. Those of them who are self-motivated — and probably angry — will turn to the internet for education as a means to secure their future so they never find themselves in this kind of situation again.
For some, the shift towards online education may be purely for fun, to explore hobbies and learn new skills like languages, musical instruments, art, dance and crafts. Some will study to advance their career or learn skills to change careers.
Others will study at home to create side income streams so they can earn remotely, or to become entirely independent, transitioning to 100% freelance work and starting new businesses.
Consider the following changes as a result of the lockdown experience:
- Work will shift home now that all stakeholders see the benefit (employees, management and company owners)
- Working from home leads to extra time by removing latency (travel, meetings, distractions)
- With more home time, people will pick up new hobbies or return to old ones
- People will use extra time they have at home to upskill so they can advance in their career and/or get better jobs
- Millions of people who lost their jobs will go online looking for remote work and to educate themselves to secure new better jobs
- More people will become freelancers and start businesses
- Having a ‘side hustle’ that you control and can do anywhere will become incredibly popular
To put it simply, online education is going to boom — and it was already booming before the pandemic lockdown.
Online Educators: It’s Time To Cement Your Leadership
My message is simple…
As a coach, teacher, trainer, expert, non-fiction author — any person who educates others for a living, now is the time to take action.
It’s important you don’t do this half-heartedly. There is a unique window of opportunity right now to go after a market and cement your leadership. If you don’t, someone else will.
You have a chance to ride a wave that’s building as you read this. You only get these chances once. Think back to all the previous trends you missed out on — did you get a second chance? No, of course not, it’s now or never.
Online education is booming and demand will continue to increase, but that means competition is ramping up too.
To make sure you survive and thrive in a competitive landscape, you have to be a leader in your space. You need to stamp your authority on your topic, to create awareness for who you are, how you help and why you’re the best choice.
If you don’t, the wave that is rising now will crash over you, wiping out your business as others ride it to huge profits. There’s only room for a handful of winners, the rest will fade away, watching on as their sales decline as people choose to buy from other teachers and coaches.
Right now, the focus is on the virus, saving lives and reducing spread.
This means you spend a lot of time at home, probably more time than you ever have before or will again. Use that time to plan, prepare, and communicate with your audience. Be a voice, help where you can, and get your products ready for sale.
If you are reading this and you don’t have an audience or any kind of platform online, your job is to build it. Stop hiding and start helping.
To help you do this, take my free workshop – The Platform Launch Plan.
The world constantly changes and what we know as normal is always temporary. Big shifts are triggered by a moment of acute suffering. The moment doesn’t last, but the shift does. How you react, as always, is up to you.
Now go get busy, it’s time to create.