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Training company goes beyond software to transform organisation

7 Expert Quotes To Transform the Way You Run Your Training Business

We’re always on the hunt for new ways to expand and improve…well, everything, really – from what we do to how we do it. So, when our Managing Director, Dave Evans, jetted off to the annual SaaSTr Annual event in sunny San Francisco, I took the opportunity to pick his brains. 

SaasTr Annual is pretty much the biggest SaaS event of the year; a massive conversation starter designed to ‘help everyone scale faster and with less stress.’

And on that score, the event definitely did that. 

But just because it’s an technology event, there were plenty of fantastic insights and top tips that training organisations can take away with them. Insights like...

‘Do not assume that stuff that works at one company works at another.’

Some business owners are guilty of spending too much time side-eyeing the competition. It’s natural to measure ourselves against our rivals and curse under our breath when their pay-per-click ads pop up on Google.

But while that’s all grand and dandy (and educational) for, say, your marketing department, all it’s providing is a distraction from the day-to-day running the business. Just because the competition is doing X doesn’t mean you should too. Your business might better benefit from doing Y. Or Z. Or even K.

Point is, just because others are doing something, doesn’t mean it’ll work for your training company.

‘What got you here won’t get you there.’

To create a successful training business takes a lot of hard graft. Sleepless nights. A smidgen of luck…

But the work already put in isn’t what takes a company to the next level. If you’re not prepared to evolve every step of the way, then you’ll soon realise there are no more steps to take. This is the dreaded ceiling that many small and medium-sized training organisations struggle to smash through.

It’s like running a sweet shop that only sells lemon sherbets. That’s great – in time you can become to lemon sherbet baron! But if you want to increase your reach, and increase your number of sweet-toothed customers, then you’ll want to bring in new ideas, new marketing strategies, new candy that entices and attracts. It’s about building on past successes to create future ones.

Pile of sweets

‘At every phase the company is different, and appreciating where you are now is a really important aspect.’

Growing any business in any industry requires honesty, right? And a massive part of that conversation should be focused on your current status and where you’re heading.

Despite the increasingly competitive landscape, far too many training organisations either don’t recognise the need for growth, or think they’re bigger than they are. And it’s completely debilitating.

Acknowledge the direction you wish to take, and the destination. That way, you can create a realistic road-map to success.

‘Build a real business with customers. Money will be there when it’s time to scale.’

There’s a reason why Coca-Cola is the behemoth it is today (and it’s not the multi-million-pound marketing budget, honest).

They started out with a solid product that people wanted. It’s why Google owns the internet; it’s why McDonalds dominates fast food. They all started out small, offering a product or service that really resonated with the public. And, because of that strong base, growth came easy.

Managing a training company shouldn’t be about continual funding rounds and endless growth plans – that’s not why we set them up, is it? We founded businesses to deliver services and products that people actually want and need. We want to see individuals and companies improve, develop and succeed by using what we offer.

In other words: Don’t run a business before you can walk.

‘Culture isn't all about coffee, booze, dogs in office, and ping pong.’

Ok, it’s partly that. All those things feed into the general vibe of a business (we don’t have a dog here at accessplanit, but we do have great coffee and a pool table). However, culture isn’t about the colour of the walls or anything like that.

Company culture can be best characterised as a business’s personality. It’s about what makes you you and your training business yours, so ask yourself…

  • Who are you?
  • What do you stand for?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • How do you operate?
  • How do your values chime with the culture you desire?

Installing a cappuccino machine for your training administrators is great; having a meaningful culture that reflects what you’re trying to achieve is far superior.

An office dog is great, but meaningful culture is better

‘The essence of strategy is deciding what no to do.’

So, you’re going to increase your delegate count. And reach profits by a million pounds. And double the head-count. And get an office in Dubai. And…

And how are you going to reach those objectives, even with a flawless roadmap (and a spring in your step)? The dangers of a sprawling business strategy include spreading your talents too thin, a lack of focus, overwhelming your employees, and prioritising the wrong things. Oh, and that’s before your project overreach starts impacting on your bottom-line. A solid strategy is ruthlessly laser-focused; a shark that gets the job done in the most efficient manner possible. Ambition without realism is just a dream.

‘As a CEO, be the fastest learner.’

Obviously, it’s pretty important to be aware of all the trends of the training industry – CEOs and MDs are an authority and should present themselves as such. But being the fastest learner in the business doesn’t mean running a training company single-handedly (even if it’s the first thing you think about when we wake up, and the last thing at night).

For Dave, being a fast learner isn’t about understanding how particular training management software works before anyone else. It means recognising the need for operational change or that your staff are highly capable of completing specific tasks without being micro-managed (after all, leaders who don’t show trust aren’t trusted). Knowing what you know and what you don’t is the first step in growing any training company and nurturing the staff.

‘Don’t believe your own hype.’

Stay grounded. Listen to your team. Accept criticism the same way you accept compliments. ‘Nuff said.

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