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How to start a training company

Training is a growth area, and if you have a skill that people want to learn then you could it into a successful business venture

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What is a training company and who is the business suited to?

As the internet and technological developments revolutionise the way we do business, employers are clamouring for new skills. And it isn’t just about IT – management and business skills are also in demand. Training has come to be seen as a way to boost business: in a survey conducted in 2014, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that two main changes anticipated by businesses over the next few years are more integration of learning and development activity with business strategy, and increased importance placed on monitoring, and on evaluating training and effectiveness.

The government has also set its sights on raising skills, with a focus on building on the skills of employees in small and medium enterprises. Also in a bid to help decrease the levels of unemployment and skills gaps, and to help small business invest in its workers, the government offers various funding schemes to business owners or people, such the flexible training opportunities, where entrepreneurs can get up to £5,000 towards employee training costs.

So if you think you have a way with people, have a skill you want to share and fancy life on the other side of the classroom, life as a trainer could be just what you are looking for.

This is a very diverse industry that can be started in just about any way you want. It can cover anything and everything that can be learnt on a course. It is because the industry encompasses a wide range of activities that trainers tend to specialise.

In practice, this tends to happen in one of two ways. Firstly, specialising in a particular skill, such as management training, or secondly, focusing on all skills but within a particular industry, such as travel or catering.

If you are coming straight out of a job where you have worked in one industry for a long time, it may be tempting to become the training maestro for that sector. But before you take the plunge as an industry guru make sure that you have thought it through carefully, warns Jasper Gilder, who runs his own management training company Jasper Gilder Limited.


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“There are two things with that business. First, you need to be constantly updating your skills base and, second, there is a finite market. If you are doing something like travel that is a big market. But what if you are in the film processing chemicals industry? You probably have 10 potential clients in the whole of the UK.”

This decision is likely to be dictated by your own skills and experience. It is also worth bearing in mind that this is an industry undergoing a huge rennaissance at the moment, so if you want to tailor your business to take advantage of this – take a look at our recommendations for the hot spots.

Growth areas

Some areas of the business are growing rapidly and it’s recommended that you consider some of these areas if you want to set up a training and development business. In particular, the growth of the internet and technological changes are driving the need to gain IT skills and then keep them up to date.

Colin Steed, chief executive of the Institute of IT Training, says it goes without saying that millions is spent on external IT training by companies every year. And that is just the tip of the iceberg as it doesn’t include any government sponsored training, Steed says.

It is easy to see the IT training industry as one growth area, but it isn’t all growing at a rate of knots. The more lucrative, and faster growing, end of the market, is technical training. This is being driven by advances in technology – particularly the internet and as more people move online. There is a constant need for web design and other programming skills.

Also within this bracket are very specialised courses catering to a niche, but lucrative, market. For example, there are few trainers that can offer courses in CISCO router systems. Also in demand are social networking and database skills trainign courses.

Who is a training and development company suited to?

At a glance it would seem that almost anyone and everyone has some knowledge or expertise to share and some experience of presenting. But this is not about talking in front of a room of people, it is about interpersonal and coaching skills.

It helps if you really believe in the benefit of training and empowering others through knowledge. If you are starting out on your own, your business is likely to be based on a few key clients coming back for repeat business and them referring you to others. This is particularly important as you are likely to be spending most of your day uncontactable so you don’t have a lot of opportunity to chase new clients. But referrals won’t happen unless you really have a passion for what you are doing and offer good customer service.

And you still have to prove that your fees are worthwhile, explains Gilder, because at the end of the day you are selling yourself and your experience to the customer.

“Unless you can demonstrate 10 years experience in training and management development then it isn’t worth it and nobody works for me unless they have 10 years experience.”

Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here.