Learning and development jobs: safety net or soul killers?

Simon Thiessen

Simon Thiessen About The Author

Mar 17, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Is a B2B consultancy a leap you should make?



Why would you leave a perfectly good job and go into some sort of business-to-business consultancy, perhaps a corporate trainer? Well, I’m not going to give you the answers. I’m not going to tell you what you should do, but I am going to provoke you with a number of questions. After all, the key to finding good answers is to ask the right questions.  

My name is Simon Thiessen; I’m the CEO of the Real Learning Experience. I’ve been running a business-to-business consultancy, a training business, for more than 20 years now. It’s been exciting, it’s been frightening, it’s been rewarding, and it’s been exhausting. If you can’t handle that up and down ride, then a business-to-business consultancy career is probably not for you.   



Video transcript

A consultancy won’t work if you have a high need for certainty 

In fact, if that sounds challenging, but something that excites you also, then keep watching. But, if it just sounds terrifying to the point that you couldn’t cope, turn off the video, go and make a cup of tea and set about achieving your KPIs. Make sure your learning and development jobs are long term and secure! 

So, assuming that the opening hasn’t put you completely off the idea of being in some form of B2B consultancy, let’s talk about some of the specific areas and make comparisons between the two alternatives - continuing to do learning and development jobs versus working for yourself. 

Don’t do it for the money 

learning and development jobs money Let’s start with the obvious one: money. Now, if you’re going into a B2B consultancy, into a training business, because of the money, stop now.  

The only way you’ll succeed in a B2B business is if you have a genuine passion for what you’re doing and if you walk your talk.

Sure, you’re working really hard for someone else right now, you’re making somebody else - perhaps a big organisation - a lot of money; you might make more money working for yourself, but you may not.  

However, if money is your primary motivation, then that’s not going to set you up for success. Don’t get me wrong; money should be a motivation, just not the primary one 

When you go into business for yourself, you say goodbye to the regular paycheque, to the health benefits, to the holiday leave. Yes, you may make more money, but there will also be patches where you make very little.  

I can’t get no … satisfaction 

learning_and_development_jobs_depressed.jpgSo let’s move on to a much more important factor. This one is less tangible, but I believe it’s the principle one you should consider in making this decision. It’s all about satisfaction.  

How satisfied are you doing what you’re doing now? Sure, it may be safe, but do you sell a little bit of your soul each day? Do you feel you’ve got more to contribute, that you’d be able to express, if you were working for yourself? 

If you can cope with the financial lack of certainty and if you feel dissatisfied doing what you’re doing, then opening your own business-to-business consultancy may be a great move for you; it certainly gives you the opportunity to express yourself.  

It certainly gives you the opportunity to work in the areas that are critical for you, a priority for you, as opposed to the ones that are important to your boss.  

How important is lifestyle to you? 

Another reason people consider a business-to-business consultancy is that they’re seeking more flexibility. It’s a lifestyle issue. Now, if you currently work very long hours, if your boss has high expectations that you’re sick of struggling to meet, then absolutely, a consultancy may provide the flexibility you’re looking for.  

It may also help you reduce time spent in transit. However, go into this with your eyes open. Yes, you’ll have more flexibility. Yes, if you want the day off, you can take it. Yes, if you want to knock off early and see the kids’ sport carnival, you can do that. But, to succeed in the consultancy, you are going to have to put in some long hours. 

Playing the corporate game 

The fourth reason that people often discuss with us is that they’re sick of the games, the politics involved in learning and development jobs; they want to get away from all of that. Absolutely, in your own consultancy, you will have to put up with very little of that.  

However, there is another game that you will have to play, and that’s the game of competing for business. There are times where you’ll have to strive, where you’ll have to jump through hoops, to win business against the competitor. It’s a different game, and it might be one you’re more comfortable playing. 

Are you capable of being more than your learning and development job allows you to be? learning_and_development_jobs.jpg

The final consideration sort of relates to one of the ones we’ve discussed earlier. It’s the opportunity to be everything you can be, the opportunity to use the skills that are really important to you. When you go and work for an employer, you do what they need done and you use the skills that they need from you; but you may have other skills, you may have other talents and other priorities that are significant for you. In your own business-to-business consultancy, you’ll have to opportunity to use those, as long as you can make them profitable. 

Explore further: Are you a corporate trainer or learning facilitator? Does it matter?

So, as I said, I’ve posed more questions than given answers, but good questions lead to quality answers. All the best in your decisions! 

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