Sharon is the face behind The Trainers Training Company which she set up in 2009. I know she has some amazing people in her group because whenever she lets them know about the RenewYou licensing course I get some really excellent women trainers calling me. (For which many thanks Sharon!) It’s very clear from even a brief acquaintance that Sharon genuinely loves to help others; read on to see how she has turned that quality into a successful business!
Jane: Sharon, many thanks for talking time out to talk with us today. The Trainer’s Training Company is a resource for trainers; where did the idea for the business come from?
Sharon: It was really just an idea that I had whilst I was out walking the dog one day. I was just thinking back to when I first started out as a freelance trainer and how clueless I was about it and suddenly thought wouldn’t it be really great to have a website or resource that would give you all this information without having to search all over the internet. I started by writing an E Book, How To Launch A Training Business in 30 Days, then I developed the 1 day Workshop How To Create a Successful and Profitable Training Business and it really just grew from there.
What are the main issues for trainers in running their business, in your experience?
Most trainers are very comfortable and confident when they are in the training room but the thought of going out and selling and marketing their services scares them to death. Well, it did me anyway! I deal with a lot of freelance trainers who just don’t; like the thought of marketing and wished they didn’t have to do it…. but of course they do have to if they want to have any clients. Other top issues are finding work, the constant roller coaster of feast and famine, getting your pricing right and the isolation that comes from working on your own.
How difficult was it to set up a business from scratch? Had you any previous experience of running your own business?
No I hadn’t …. I was one of those people in corporate life who used to sign the invoices of training consultants and think ‘Ooh, they’re earning a lot of money, I’d like to do that ….’ But of course I never had the courage to jump and move away from the safety of my nice salary until I was forced to give up my job when we relocated to the Midlands.
It was really, really tough to begin with. I had 2 children under the age of 5 and didn’t know anyone in the new area I had moved to. I was also completely clueless about selling and marketing, that’s one of the reasons why, in my first year, I ended up doing a lot of low value associate work, one of the BIG things I advise people against now!
What advice would you give to any woman thinking of starting her own business?
Do your homework first,,, be very clear on what you are offering and to whom, the tighter you can get your niche the better as it will be easier to attract the right people to you and you can charge more money! Network…. but network in the right places, make sure your networking is effective by giving it some strategic thought.
Don’t stop investing in your learning just because you have to pay for it yourself, it’s vital to the success of your business. And don’t give up, believe in yourself and stick at it! It’s often the small things you do each day, consistently, that yield results.
Good advice! What has been the very worst job you’ve ever had, and how, in hindsight, did you benefit from the experience?
It was in the first year of my business when I was doing all this low value associate work I referred to earlier…. I can’t even remember what course I was running though! It was the middle of June, boiling hot. I was stuck in what can only be described as a broom cupboard in Coventry trying to run a workshop for delegates who were literally melting, I had to go out and get them ice lollies at one point, it was really really bad. Then when I put my bill in the training company put a great red line through my travel expenses (100 miles for 2 round trips) and said they had decided not to pay travel any more.
What did I learn? That was the tipping point for me …. I decided not to do this type of slave labour any more, I ditched all the associate work pretty much and concentrated on getting clients of my own – which I did!
If you weren’t running The Trainer’s Training Company what would be your dream job?
That’s an easy one! Can you imagine being Annabel Croft, commentating and working on Sky Sports tennis and Eurosport? Interviewing Rafa and Andy? I even tweeted her once to tell her she had the best job in the world and she tweeted back to say yes she sure did!
I know from your Twitter tweets that tennis looms large in your life as you have a son who competes regularly. How does that fit in with your work commitments? How do you manage the work/home balance?
Ryan’s tennis was the reason I started The Trainers Training Company as I had to find a way of earning income from activities that could be done at least 70% from home and passively too. Although by 2009 my training business was successful I could not run the volume of workshops I was doing and also get Ryan to Edgbaston every afternoon for training.
So, in creating the Trainers Training Company I have developed a business model that includes some live workshops (only 10 a year) but also 1 to 1 Mentoring and Group Mentoring that can be done at home over Skype. I also have a number of products and programmes which earn income for me without me having to be physically present. I’m constantly balancing work with the tennis and it does reduce the number of hours I can spend on my business considerably but I wouldn’t change it …. you have to give your kids every opportunity in life, if you can!
Do you have a role model, (you can have more than one) someone who inspires you and whose example has helped you develop.
I don’t have anyone specific in the business world but I’m an avid reader of self development books and pick up lots of inspiration from everything I read and absorb. The one thing I have learnt over the last 12 months or so is the absolute importance of positive thinking, it takes hard work to practice it on a daily basis but it makes such a difference to how you feel! And of course I am totally in awe and inspired by my tennis heroes, Rafa and Andy and really all other players who are at the top of the game. They don’t get there by accident, the amount of hard work they put in, the dedication they show and the sacrifices they make is truly amazing.
How do relax and unwind? And do you…?
I try to …. As you know I have a gorgeous cocker spaniel – Jem – and I love to just be in the outdoors and walk her. I’m lucky to live in a lovely part of the country surrounded by countryside and I take full advantage of it!
Sharon, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and tips with us today and I wish you much continued success with your business.
If you’d like to find out more about Sharon’s very popular days for trainers check out her website The Trainers Training Company
Thinking of expanding your training business? I can help you. To find out more, click here.
Posted on March 27th, 2013 by Jane