Every year I have trainers approach me looking for advice as they consider launching their training / speaking careers outside of their agency training. Some are nearing the end of their career and are looking to have a second career as a trainer, and some have a number of years until retirement and are looking to launch something now to grow over the years.
I always preface my response by saying, ”If you are looking to talk to someone who is a very astute and successful business person, I am not the person to talk to. I will however, share the lessons I have learned over the past 12 1/2 years through the mistakes I have made, the smart and successful people I have listened to and the books I have read.”
Here are 9 of those lessons:
- Start by deciding what you want for a lifestyle, and build your business to fit that lifestyle. Too often we build a business, the squeeze the other parts of our life in and around the business. It took me way too many years to figure this one out and now I am working to figure out how to fix it. If you are looking to retire and spend more time at home with your spouse and family then build a business that does not require a lot of travel. Build an online business or build a training business where your target market is within commuting distance from home. Travel is not as glamorous as it appears and it continues to get more challenging. Yes, you accumulate lots of airline miles and status with hotels but for me, by the time I have breaks in my schedule, the last thing I want to do is go back to the airport, go through customs and security, get on another plane, fly somewhere and stay at another hotel. My wife has to put up with the fact I am not a good pleasure traveller or tourist. It is easy to convince yourself that the travel will allow you to see all the parts of the country you don’t normally get to. If that is part of your lifestyle plan then great. Realize however, that if you travel somewhere and teach a one day seminar then stay for two or three extra days to see the sights those are extra days away from home, days you are spending, not earning money.
- Be very clear on your values and what you stand for and never compromise these values to make money.
- Determine your absolutes and what is NOT negotiable. If being home with your family every weekend is an absolute then make sure you stick with that and let potential clients know. That means Monday and Fridays are travel days and Tuesday to Thursday are available for teaching. Absolutes and Non-Negotiables are just that. Once you start to compromise them there is a price to pay.
- Make time to work on you. Work on your craft. Read, listen to podcasts, attend conferences (ILEETA is a must), take online courses then read some more. Read with the mindset to connect the dots, and not simply collect dots. Make time for exercise, eat healthy both at home and on the road and get your sleep. These are often far easiest to accomplish at home than they are on the road. If you are travelling be intentional about looking after yourself. Use your time on airplanes and in your car travelling to events as learning time. On a plane always travel with books and read, listen to audio books, write articles or blog posts. In your car listen to audio books and make the most of your travel time. Join the Excellence in Training Academy and get access to weekly interviews and webinars, which can be accessed from any device at any time. You also get significant discounts when you attend and Excellence in Training Course and the opportunity to win one of the full scholarships to the ILEETA conference we award each year. We have both Individual and Training Unit membership options. Use the code eitblog to get the first month free.
- Make time for people who are most important in your life. It is easy to spend all your time working and thinking about work. This is one of my biggest struggles. Make time for your loved ones. They will still be there when the clients stop calling and you choose to stop teaching.
- Decide who your target audience is and what your key message or product is. Your target audience needs to be a specific niche and not “Everyone in law enforcement”. My two sons are very successful entrepreneurs and before they ever opened their businesses they were very clear, and very specific about who their ideal customer was (and it was not everyone in Calgary who drinks wine and eats food). Once you determine your market and your message determine if there is a market or a demand for your product or services. Just because you think they need to hear what you have to say, does not mean someone will pay you for that or be interested in hearing what you have to say.
- Determine whether you are the brand or if you are going to create quality programs and a cadre of great instructors and market the programs. If you are the brand that is fine, just understand when you stop doing the work, the message also stops. This is one of the many lessons I learned over time. I do not get calls asking for programs, I get calls asking for me to come speak and then we determine what I am going to teach based on their needs.
- Start thinking about getting help early in the process to look after logistics such as websites, accounting, registrations, marketing, social media, etc. Most of us start off doing everything and that is fine at first. But, spending your time on all those other activities and not on what you do best, may not be the best investment of your time. You may also want to consider hiring a business coach early on in the process.
- If you are going to travel a lot fly with one airline as much as possible and pick one or two hotel chains that have hotels in most locations. This allows you to earn the most perks and status from your travel. I do not travel near the miles that Dave Grossman, Gordon Graham and others are but, I still fly over 100,000 miles per year and most years spend over 100 nights in hotels. I fly primarily with United and stay at Hilton and Starwood properties. Starwood is a great chain but they do not have hotels in smaller centers whereas Hilton and Marriott (who now owns Starwood) do. Determine which hotel chains and airlines work best with your travel destinations, offer what you need and provide the best perks for you.
If you are looking to start your own training business then keep these 9 tips in mind.
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