Are you thinking about launching a training business but just want to get out there and do it? Do you feel like you need to jump in at the deep end and then figure things out?

Hang on for a moment!

While I completely understand the need to get on and do (it was what I did when I was starting out), I hope I can convince you to quash that urge for a while. Answering two crucial questions now could save you a huge amount of time, money and energy in the long-run.

What do you need to know before launching a training business?

Two questions I often get asked are: What are the foundational pieces that you need to put in place when you are setting up a training business? What are the absolute essentials that you need to think about before you do anything else?

I think people expect me to list tangible resources like a website, social media pages or business cards. Whereas, in fact, these come a long way down the list!

The main thing that you need to think about when launching a training business is what you are about.

In other words, what are you going to be offering and who are you going to be offering it to?

It’s so important to do this as, once you know the answers to these questions, your whole marketing strategy becomes a lot clearer and a lot simpler.

I completely understand why a lot of people don’t do this. I certainly didn’t when I first started out. Working through this process and answering these questions can be long, painful, even boring. Most freelance trainers – like me – just want to get out and DO, go to networking events, talk and interact with people. When you are just sitting at home in front of your laptop and trying to work through these questions, you feel like you are not doing anything, you’re not earning any money and not getting in front of clients.

But you really MUST make the time to do this. Make it your number one priority to identify what you plan to offer and who your audience will be. Don’t leave the house until you’ve done it!

It will save you time in the long run as well as getting you better results.

What are you going to offer?

The answer to this question will depend on your background. You might want to think about the following:

  • What training experience do you have?
  • What is your background?
  • Which training topics do you most enjoy covering?
  • What sort of training do your target clients most want/need? (More about this below)

Once you know what training you want to offer, you can also think about how you plan to offer it.

  • Will you deliver training in blocks of days?
  • Can people book you for shorter workshops?
  • Will you deliver training in-house or at a third party venue?
  • How many people will be able to attend a training session?
  • Will you offer online training?
  • If so, will it be live or pre-recorded?

Who are you going to offer it to?

Something of a chicken and egg situation arises here because you won’t be able to fully define your offering until you’ve defined your target client. But, you won’t necessarily know who your target client is until you know what training you plan to offer. Therefore, you may find yourself moving backwards and forwards between these two questions until you build up a clear picture.

Here, you need to consider the following questions:

  • Who do you love working with?
  • Does your training fit in a clear niche?
  • Who are the people who will most benefit from the training you offer?
  • Who are the decision-makers? (i.e. Will people book training individually or will you deliver training to organisations via a booking from HR, for example?)

Why these two questions matter so much

"Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like." — Brian Chesky, Co-Founder & CEO, Airbnb

I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating – having a very clear picture of what you plan to offer and to whom you plan to offer it has many commercial advantages.

For a start, you can go into a networking event, for example, and succinctly tell people who you want to meet and why. Other people will find it easy to refer you too because they’ll know who you’re looking for and can be specific about the benefits.

Answering these two questions will also streamline your marketing efforts.

If you don’t know who you want to reach, your marketing stands the risk of not resonating with anyone. It’s the equivalent of standing in a crowded hall with a megaphone and shouting, “I’m looking for some people to train”. The crowd would surely size you up and ask, “Which people?” and “What/how are you going to train us?” or even “How do you/we know we need your training?”

Now, if you were able to take that metaphorical megaphone and shout out, “Hi, I’m looking for people who work in HR departments who need help managing conflict between employees”, you would immediately encourage a specific set of people to perk up and listen. If you can then add, “With my training, you will be able to create better working relationships, improve the atmosphere at work, raise morale and increase productivity”, you will give those people a reason to step forward and hire you.

It is SO MUCH EASIER to write marketing content or choose images to use, for example, if you know who you want to reach with them. These two central questions will help you make all of your marketing decisions and filter out opportunities that aren’t relevant.

In their drive to get on and do, many trainers totally skip this step and make costly mistakes in the process. I know you’re itching to get going but, trust me, give these questions your attention now and it will pay dividends long-term.

Note: This article was first published in November 2009 and has been updated in August 2020

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