What makes training companies different? Shante Harris tells us.
Training is a growth area and that makes it an attractive prospect for those looking to establish themselves in the L&D market. However, giving organisations and individuals the tools to nurture key skills and explore essential innovation – and doing it well – takes more than setting up a website and handing out business cards.
The training company is a unique beast – from product to workflow it is a different prospect from other commercial organisations.
Training company structures are very diverse
Unlike many businesses, a training company could take any number of forms. Setting up a law firm, accountancy practice or catering business demands a specific structure around a set workflow. Not so in the world of training.
Some may include consulting or coaching as part of a broader offering, others customise courses and services to a specific industry. Training materials may be delivered online, in person only or via a combination of the two. There is huge scope for variety.
The more innovative you are, the more likely you are to succeed.
Unique selling point + value proposition makes all the difference
Perhaps because of the diverse range of options for establishing a training company, it’s crucial to define a unique selling point (USP) and value. To go back to previous examples, most people understand why they might need lawyers, accountants and caterers.
However, training is the kind of service/product where its value is often only appreciated after it has been delivered. As a result, defining value proposition and USP is an essential part of creating a convincing concept.
Qualifications and credentials are crucial
It is possible to set up a training company with nothing more than a laptop and some business cards. So, clients have no idea what calibre of business they are dealing with. Because of that, clarity around skills, experience and qualifications that back up this new offering is essential.
Not only will this act as part of a USP but it will establish a distance from those businesses that don’t have the same heritage.
Networking makes the business
Training is a very people-orientated business – meeting and engaging with a trainer can be all it takes for a business to decide to work with them. That makes networking crucial, both for establishing reputation and opening up a channel through which to generate new work.
Focused networking is very important for a training company i.e. attending events where there is a good prospect that the type of companies and individuals you want to work with will be there.
In fact, this is a key skill for a training business owner more than any other – strong communication skills and the ability to be in the right place at the right time can create enquiries and referrals that enable your organisation to grow.
The ‘product’ is wide open
The bottom line is that you’re teaching people a new skill, or passing on knowledge, that can be used to develop and grow. However, the way that is packaged up – and the subject matter covered – i.e. the product, is wide open. There may be no precedent for your product. In fact, the more innovative you are, the more likely you are to succeed.
The training market is composed of many segments, from those fast moving ‘trending’ areas, such as technical and IT training, to the more niche subjects where there is a continuous flow of more low key demand. Picking the right combination of market area, topic and delivery can product something unique.
Business materials aren’t set in stone
The traditional business materials for a training company may be, for example, a set of slides and a projector, worksheets, training videos and tests. However, unlike other sectors, when it comes to training, there is a real need to provide materials that are responsive to client resource.
So, for example, given the widespread smartphone use in the UK, an app may be more appropriate to some customers than email attachments or physical worksheets. It’s all about finding the meeting point between the learning tools your customers can most engage with and the materials that best illustrate and expand your topic.
It’s also going to be crucial to leave space to adapt as technology and learning methods change.
It’s crucial to speak the right language
The right business language, that is. Training professionals need to learn the lingo of their clients and potential clients – this removes a communication barrier and makes you feel like a part of the team.
Don’t expect your customer to speak the language you develop and steer clear of trying to impress with industry terms, jargon and isolating vocabulary. Instead, learn to communicate your business and value proposition in terms your customer will understand.
Training companies are a unique and diverse part of the corporate and creative business worlds offering a broad spectrum of opportunity for growth. Celebrating and optimising what makes this kind of company different will establish a pathway for success.
About the author
Shante Harris is academy manager at Klood Academy.