Possible effect of a recession on being a freelance trainer

career success training Feb 28, 2021

A recession may or may not be coming because of Covid (and in the UK we have Brexit as well, adding to the unknowns).

Should we worry?  In particular, if you are in the training business?  Or thinking of getting into it?

After 20 years of regularly thinking I’m going to run out of work, thinking “This time it really IS serious”, and then never having actually run out of work, I would say that it’s not a problem – and here’s why:

1 – in any time of change, some organisations will be doing well, and we only need to find and look after about 30 to live off as a self employed trainer.  Currently I know that accountants are very busy, so are IT companies, and anyone selling anything online; sheds and garden plants are up, DIY and house improvements all doing well.  Food and other essentials are unaffected.  Car sales have been up recently, catching back up due to pent-up demand, after having to stop for the lockdown.

2 – some companies (the sensible ones) do their training when things are quiet (including when staff are furloughed, it’s the one thing they are allowed to do, and training also keeps them motivated)

3 – worst case you lose some work and earn a bit less – and get some time off for: 

    a) relaxing (some of us DREAM of a three day week, and some of us are already trying to get to that point!) – 

    b) or you can spend it thinking about new business ideas and developing new products to sell, which will end up with you being better off than you were before 

    c) or you can use it as more time for selling, which will soon correct the loss.

4 – companies can easily go bust if their income drops by 10 or 20%, since they have large fixed costs, but you as a self-employed trainer can take a cut of 20% and still be fine.

5 – or you might have to work a bit harder to sell the same amount as usual – you at least always have that choice, unlike a person who is made redundant because their company decides to cut costs.  For many employees selling isn’t part of their job, there is nothing they can do about reduced sales in their company.  But you as a self-employed trainer CAN ramp up your selling, if you want to.

6 – if companies cut their training by 20%: just don’t be in the bottom 20%!  You should be gutted if you are – it’s probably a sign that you need to find a new career anyway!  Even if they cut training by 50%, you really shouldn’t be in the bottom 50%.

7 – training always comes back.  Companies who have a lean spell and stop training will find in a year or two that they have a load of people who have not been trained – and although training feels like a luxury, it’s not.  You pay £20,000 or £30,000 to employ people, so with on-costs they are costing you £40,000 to £60,000 a year, and therefore you would be MAD not to train them, at a cost of just £50 or £100 each, once a year.  It’s like trying to save money by not putting oil in the engine of your Ferrari!    So they have to be trained sooner or later, and after a while the pent up demand means you get a whole lot of work again – your customers always come back to life and call you sooner or later, you just have to wait.

So all is not lost – adapt, work hard, look after your customers, be great at what you do, and you’ll be fine.


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