In this Educast, we will be looking at ten common sense practical ideas you may find helpful if you are starting out in a career as an Intercultural Trainer. If you enjoy these recommendations, please pass this clip along to others. Please sign up for our newsletter and why not subscribe to our YouTube channel? Should you have any questions, please feel free to drop us a line by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!
Ten Tips for your Start-up as an Intercultural Trainer
My name is Gary Thomas, from Assist International Human Resources. In this Educast, we will be looking at ten common sense practical ideas you may find helpful if you are starting out in a career as an Intercultural Trainer. If you enjoy these recommendations, please pass this clip along to others. Please sign up for our newsletter and why not subscribe to our YouTube channel? Should you have any questions, please feel free to drop us a line by email. Enjoy!
Tip #1: Stick to your Day Job!
My first tip applies to those many trainers who intend to take the plunge and leave their full-time jobs to become a self-employed trainer. Until you’ve got your freelance career up and running as a trainer, minimise the risk by sticking to your current job until the time is right. Build up your contacts network, hone your trainer skills, establish your customer base in your free time. On the one hand this does mean you will have to work twice as hard, working on your future career as a trainer while still working on your full-time job. However, you will have much less risk and much less pressure as you will have your income that you can rely on for the time being. It also means you can ensure that you build a cash reserve so if the worst comes to the worst and you can’t work for several months, you have some money to fall back on when you start your trainer career.
Tip #2: Start Small and Keep your Costs Down
One of the advantages of working as a freelance trainer is, essentially, you can work from your living room. Generally speaking, all you need is a computer with an internet connection, a phone, and a printer. These days, designing a basic website is really inexpensive. You can even build a decent-looking site yourself with a modular system. You don’t normally need an external office either. Some freelancers point out at this stage, that working from home can be lonely, which is why they often decide to opt for shared offices or co-working space. But certainly in the initial phase of your start-up why not just meet your colleagues and your network partners at home or in a café somewhere? Others argue they need to have an office to invite their customers. Certainly, at start-up phase make sure you meet your customers in their premises, or, if you really think you need a meeting or training room, find one you can book for a day or an hour. And don’t forget: there is good, online software you could use, which is free.
Tip #3: Define what makes you Different
Define what makes you special, define your niche, what sets you apart from the rest. In any market you have got the choice of three options. You can either be cheaper than the rest, and to be honest very few trainers start out aiming for that particular avenue. You can try to be better than the rest: quality. You can try to be different from the rest: offer something that others are not offering, or where very little competition is around. What that means is looking at your background, your resume, at what you have studied, and try to think ‘How can I combine that with something intercultural?’ Often people opt more for conformity. They offer ‘awareness training’; they offer training for a specific culture, which is okay – it’s just there is lots of competition out there for that. It’s hard to get noticed, and of course that is going to have an impact on prices. If, for example, your background is in logistics and you’ve been in industry for a while, and you can offer intercultural competence for that particular branch – or your background is in human resources, and you can offer intercultural personal development training or coaching – these are different types of concept that will suit target groups, and will get you noticed. It’s also possible of course, that later you will also get the classic awareness training as well. It is just that having that slightly different profile from the rest is what makes you stand out.
Tip #4: Learn your Trade
What this means is, unless you are an educator or an experienced trainer already, you need to participate in a good train-the-trainer programme to get you ready for designing and delivering intercultural training. It’s an investment you are only going to make once, so carefully select a programme that suits your needs. For example, if you’re going to work in the academic field, in universities, find one that caters for that focus. If you plan to work in the business world in the future, in the corporate context, find one with a very strong focus on business. Have a really close look at the syllabus, the curriculum they offer you, and speak to the people who run it. Look closely at the profile of the trainer team to see if it matches what you need, in terms of their field experience. And perhaps the most important thing, have a talk to past participants of the programme. A good provider will send you as many names and phone numbers and email addresses as you need of past participants, who will tell you in detail all you need to know about the participant experience and how they profited from the programme. At this stage it might be worth mentioning our Intercultural Business Trainer Moderator programme (IBTM). If you like, take a look at it on our home page, and if it’s for you, drop us a line.
Tip #5: Spread the Word
Okay, so you’re all ‘trained-up’ now, you’ve done your train-the-trainer programme, you’ve defined your profile, you’re good to go. The only snag is, well, nobody has heard of you. This is where networking takes place. This is where going out there, meeting people, shaking hands, pumping flesh, kissing babies and so on – this is where that’s required. Networking, finding people who may want to buy what you’re offering, or partner with in different projects. In our industry, SITAR is very helpful (Society for Intercultural Education, Training And Research), in particular because you have the chance to go to a local group near where you live to meet like-minded trainers who you can meet up with and exchange, to get yourself known and established in the field. Otherwise, of course, join social media. Use those different groups, contribute to social media platforms, make contacts, do everything you can so people can find out what you’re doing. The more people know about about you and want you’re offering the higher chances of you being found and engaged to deliver some training.
Tip #6: Decide on your Marketing and Sales Approach
In our industry, intercultural training, in principle there are three basic strands that you can, of course, combine. One, is to form or find a network of like-minded people that you get on with, where you have skills and training topics that are complementary, so that you can join up and address the customers together. The second choice you have is to go via third-party training providers, often big organisations, and apply to be taken into their pool of trainers, so that when there’s an inquiry for the topic that you offer, they will hire you on a freelance basis. And sometimes, of course, there is a third option of going for direct selling, direct customer acquisition. Not every trainer likes this. If it’s your type of thing, it’s a great thing to do. It can make sense to take part in a marketing and training sales programme for this. You may not be surprised to find out that we have one of these: an open programme for trainers on this topic. If you’d like to find out more, have a look at our website or drop us an email.
Tip #7: Find Yourself a Mentor: get yourself a Coach
What this means is, you’re just starting out as a freelancer, as a trainer and you have a fair few things to learn, as you know. It makes great sense to enlist the support and advice of someone more experienced, more seasoned as a trainer or an entrepreneur, to help you during your first few months and through your first year, for example. You’d be surprised how helpful many experienced trainers are at passing on what they know to those who are coming through now. So hook up through trainer networks, through SITAR for example, to try and find someone you can learn from who can train you. If you’re in Germany, as we are, the very good news is there is quite a strong state financed network for recognised start-up coachings. We do some of this and if you are in Germany please feel free to drop us a line to take this further.
Tip #8: Find a good Accountant
This suggestion surprises some people for two reasons. They ask, ‘Well, surely that’s expensive?’ and they say, ‘Well, surely I can do it myself.’ Yes, good accountants cost money, however, it does make sense to shop around because rates vary. In my experience, it’s a well-placed investment with value for money, because when you start out there is so much you don’t know, about value-added tax, about income tax, about social security contributions, that type of thing. Try and find an accountant who knows how freelancers tick and what they need, and ideally someone who understands trainers and has worked with trainers before, for the special types of questions you are going to raise. Do shop around because competence levels in the particular field you work in, and rates they charge, do vary.
Tip #9: Set Goals and Define Strategy
The secret of your success in your first year, or even in your first few months as a freelance trainer, is going to be focus. Doing the right things, in the right way. And the key to focus is defining the goals you want to achieve over that first year. Obviously one goal you will want to achieve is going to be monetary: income. Defining for yourself what you need to earn over the first year in specific revenue income that you can break into quarters and into months, helps to focus your activities and your efforts in the right direction. Many trainers prefer, rather than revenue per month, to choose amount of training days per year, which is also a fine way to do it. Again, you can break the amount of days you want to train per year into quarters or months and keep track of it to make sure you’re on the right way.
Once you’re defined your goals, the key then is to ask yourself, ‘What levers do I have to move to achieve those goals? What has to happen? And which actions do I have to focus on to make sure I achieve those levers?’ And that simple, ‘split-into-goals, levers, and specific actions based around those levers’ is how a simple strategy is formed.
Tip #10: Watch your Work-Life Balance
As you’ve seen, from these first 9 tips, starting up as a freelance trainer isn’t going to be necessarily easy. It may not be a cakewalk. However, it’s a very enjoyable path to take, if you look after yourself. Which means, watch your health, watch what you eat, make sure you have the chance to recharge your batteries, you have your ‘me-time’, your down time, your time for your family, for those close to you. This is not just so you can enjoy your life and enjoy your life, but even more so because it has a direct impact on the quality of your training that you maintain in the short, medium and long-term.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed this Educast and you are now motivated and ready to go in your career or future career as a trainer. Training is a very rewarding field to be in, if it’s your cup of tea. It really is the best job in the world.