Over my career, first as a freelance trainer and then through The Trainers Training Company, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are nine essential ingredients of a successful training business. They are:
What do you want your training business to achieve? Every business, from the individual start-up to the long-established international organisation, should routinely ask this question. By setting short-, medium- and long-term goals, you can define a destination – where you want your efforts to take you – as well as milestones that will keep your journey on track.
If goals are the destination, your strategy is the roadmap that will get you there. And yet, incredibly, a surprising number of small businesses and freelancers operate without a strategy.
Successful training businesses understand how business should be conducted both in the short- and long-term to drive them towards their goals. The key is to think not only about what you want to achieve but also how you plan to achieve it.
- Marketing plan
Many trainers have no clear sense of where they should be spending their marketing budget. This might mean that they do no marketing or that they try new approaches almost willy-nilly with no real mechanism for identifying what’s working and what isn’t.
Every business should have a marketing plan that ties into its overall business strategy. The key is to think about who you want to reach – your target clients – and the best ways to reach them. Ask yourself, “Will this activity bring me closer to my goals and my target clients? Does it tie in with my overall strategy for the business?” If it won’t or doesn’t then you will probably want to walk away.
- Good communication
As a trainer, your clients rely on you to be great at communicating but outside of the training room, are you communicating with potential and existing clients as well as you could be?
Successful training businesses are built on good communication at every stage of the buying journey, from the moment you answer an enquiry to after the training is delivered.
Every business has its ups and downs. Every person makes mistakes and that’s OK – mistakes are how you learn to do things better.
One of the traits of successful business people is resilience, the ability to bounce back from adversity or take feedback and criticism on the chin and use it as an avenue for personal and professional growth.
Tied into resilience is the ability to be flexible. Your clients will each face unique challenges and issues or, if nothing else, operate within a culture that’s unique to their organisation. As a trainer, it’s important to show that you can be flexible and respond to each client’s needs rather than expecting them to fit neatly into a box.
- Willingness to keep learning
As a trainer, you know how important it is to learn or embed new skills but when was the last time that you focused on your professional development? The world is moving at such a fast pace that the most successful businesses are those with a thirst to learn more and to stay relevant.
- Emphasis on customer service
Stats show that it costs six or seven times more to acquire a new client than to keep an old one – successful businesses know that it’s much more cost effective to provide great customer service than to constantly be on the hunt for new clients.
Prioritise your customer service and you can help to create referrals, loyalty and long-term professional relationships as the core of your business.
- A good work/life balance
What is it that they say about, “All work and no play…”? To be successful professionally, I think we each need to nurture our lives and relationships outside of work too. However, you relax – whether it’s walking the dog, playing a sport, chilling in front of the TV, reading or traveling – make time for life. You’ll find it does wonders for your focus.