CXO

Members offer business advice to a would-be IT trainer

Most people have a lot of questions when starting a new business. TechRepublic members recently helped one potential trainer with his queries about advertising, incorporating, and certifying. Read their ideas about developing a business plan.


Richard posted a forum question recently about a new career path he is considering:

“I am currently contemplating becoming a professional instructor. I plan to be self-employed and to seek out contract accounts. I intend to focus on Microsoft 2000 and Cisco instruction.”

Richard was looking for information on all aspects of starting his own training business. His questions included:
  • How much money do I need to start?
  • What kind of equipment will I need to prepare for training students?
  • What kind of software should I use for billing?
  • Should I advertise?
  • What kind of professional groups or societies should I join?
  • What type of trainer certifications should I pursue?

TechRepublic members offered answers to most of these questions.

How big are your plans?
lvachon recommends checking out skillsvillage.com, a site for contractors, and saving up enough money to live on for at least one year while the business is developing. Ivachon also advised Richard to consider the scope of his business plans before making any other decisions.

“Equipment? What do you envision? Do you want to rent an office and teach students on-site? (If so, you’ll need computer equipment: hubs, cables, multiple phone lines if using modems, printers; as well as office supplies, desks.) Software for billing? Try QuickBooks.

“Advertise locally and use contract sites as the one listed above (also, guru.com).

“Certifications? MS 2000 would be either MCSE or MSDN (networking or developer). Look at microsoft.com and cisco.com for certification information and requirements.”

To incorporate or not to incorporate
Wirejockey advised Richard to start out as a sole proprietor and to incorporate later.

“Look into LLC (limited liability company); it gives you the structure of an Inc. without the paperwork or hassle. Do a search for LLC, and you will find tons of info.”

Certification suggestions
HBidlake disagreed with the certifications recommended by other readers:

“Regardless of an MCSE or an MCP, to teach Microsoft products and be recognized in the industry you should also be an MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer). Microsoft recently changed their requirements, so to be an MCT you must already be an MCSE or MCSD. However, you must be associated with an Authorized Technical Education Center (ATEC) to get that, so it can become a catch-22.

“If you intend to open your own training center, it is a costly venture. Microsoft requires high-end equipment and 'subscription' fees. One recommendation would be to be an MCT-for-hire until you build a clientele, and then open your own facility.”

Hbidlake also suggested two professional organizations that could be helpful, ITrain.org and ITTA.org.

The winning answer
The answer that Richard accepted came from Al H.:

“What you're asking for is a business plan. E-mail me, and I will send you mine with all the numbers. Of course, the specifics and number projections are local, but the strategies still apply.”

Richard appreciated the extra info and replied, “Great research work and projections!”
What are the best and worst parts of striking out on your own? What problems came out of nowhere? Would you do it again? Tell us about your entrepreneurial adventures so we can share your triumphs and travails with other TechRepublic members.

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