Starting A First Aid Business, Step 4 – Don’t Forget The Business Plan
In this blog, part 4 of our mini-series 5 Steps To Starting A First Aid Business, we are going to consider in more detail some basic business planning and how that might relate to starting your first aid business.
There are plenty of places where new start up businesses can access professional help and advice on business planning and development, so what follows is some thoughts from our experience with developing the First Aid Training Co-operative, and helping to support our members.
Questions You Must Answer
- Who are your customers going to be?
- What is your niche?
- What is your brand?
- What is your mission?
- How will you conduct business?
- How will you fiscally plan?
- Would the business support provided by joining the First Aid Training Co-operative save you hours?
Step 1: Plan for Success
Business planning is something that should be started a long time before a business actually starts trading. Having a robust plan in place that takes into consideration all of the various aspects of running and developing a business will give you the best starting point and improve your chances of success greatly.
Planning starts with research, and a thorough understanding of the different aspects of running a business that will be required. You might find the other blogs in this mini series helpful with this.
Financial planning should be the other big consideration in your business plan. Starting up any business can be expensive, and although first aid training doesn’t require a huge capital investment, there will of course be a start up period where you need to recoup your initial outlay. So consider how you are going to fund this phase, and ongoing development of your business.
In more day to day terms, you’ll need to consider a financial management system that includes invoicing and taking payments from your clients, paying your suppliers, managing your books, and doing tax returns. We use the online accounting software Xero for this, and can highly recommend Mint Accounting, who are Xero specialists and help us with all of our accounting. (Please quote FIRST MINT when you contact them!)
A business plan should be considered a working document, not something that you do once and then confine to an archive. We review, discuss and re-write ours every 6 months, and over the years it has evolved in form and format hugely. Inevitably circumstances change and a business has to be adaptable to market conditions and clients’ needs. A dynamic business plan is therefore a very useful tool in not just helping you with a plan, but also showing where you have come from, and where you’d like to get to in the future.
Step 2: Find a Niche
So what about your business? Have you considered your market and carried out any market research into what clients want from a business such as yours? A good place to start with this is to speak to your friends, family and other professional contacts. Ask for honest opinions, and especially in the case of friends and family, ask their opinion first before you tell them your plan as they are likely to want to be supportive and perhaps give you ‘biased’ support rather than an objective opinion. Networking events can also be a good way of assessing the market place in your area. They can be daunting at first, but are often very friendly and supportive environments.
We always encourage our members to think about what their particular ‘niche’ is, and try and work out how to make the most of it. They often have a working history, or continue to work in a particular sector or industry. This means that they have professional competence, credibility, and crucially contacts in that ‘niche’. Working in that niche almost always gives better results than starting in a completely new sector, or being a ‘generalist’.
Step 3: Build a Brand
Having done your research, another important step is to consider how you will inform existing and new clients about your services, and how will you engage them?
As a basic minimum, any first aid business needs to have some form of web presence, and in a larger scale business a full e-commerce enabled website can make taking bookings and payments etc. a lot more efficient. This is an expensive investment though, so to start with a basic site and simple booking system can be an effective tool if used correctly.
Social media is a further way of communicating with your customers and can be an appealing option as it is free at the point of use. There are hidden costs to social media though, mainly in the time that it takes you to create and manage an active and effective social media presence. In our experience, the effectiveness of any campaigns that aren’t paid for is limited – social media companies need to generate income and make it very difficult for you to reach your followers effectively unless you pay for the privilege.
Other promotional activity might be done more locally and in traditional forms. Paper flyers or posters in key locations can be effective, as can sign writing on a vehicle. But it can be hard to track the effectiveness of these approaches, so think of ways in which you could, prior to spending time on carrying out the campaign. As mentioned previously, networking events can also be valuable. Once you are known in your network as the person to contact for first aid training, that can work very well. This takes time, but becoming known as the expert in your field is always a good strategy.
Best practice throughout all of this activity is to be consistent in both your message and appearance. So think about branding your business. Do you want a professionally designed logo and corporate identity? What about uniform, and resources – how will these help to identify your business?
Step 4: Build Good Processes
Once you’ve promoted your business and attracted some clients to it, you need to have a sales process in place. How are you going to take payments, gather information securely, and provide your clients with the information that they need prior to a course taking place?
Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.
Again, there are various methods of doing this. You’ll discover these as you build your business.
We find that emails are the most convenient, and as your business grows, you may wish to work with a business development consultant to find a way of automating as much of this process as possible to reduce the administrative burden.
Consider a Formula 1 pit stop. This video compares a pitstop in 1950 vs one in 2013. The basic premise hasn’t changed in 60 years, and the process is largely the same. But as technology and understanding has improved, the system has evolved, allowing for much more effective and efficient delivery.
Kick Start: Ask the Experts
If you’d like to kick start your first aid business and get ahead of the competition, our Trainer Induction Week is the best option for you. Limited to a small number of participants, and only run once a year, the Trainer Induction Week is not just about becoming qualified – it’s a wholistic approach to preparing you for success in the first aid training industry.
- First Aid at Work Qualification. This gives you the ‘occupational competence’ to be a first aid trainer.
- L3 Qualification in Training And Assessing First Aid Qualifications. This qualification allows you to teach and assess first aid courses. Doing it as part of our Trainer Induction Week provides evidence of competency in teaching and assessing first aid courses.
- Experience at creating, delivering and assessing a first aid session – with a chance to review, reflect and improve, before delivering another session.
- Background First Aid Sector understanding – we give you the full, objective story behind this complex sector.
- Industry Compliance options. We’ll take you through ALL of the options for making your business compliant and certificating courses. (Most organisations running this type of first aid trainer’s course will try and sell you their solution, without giving you the full picture).
- Advice on setting up your new first aid business’s internal quality assurance system.
- Marketing sessions, helping you identify your niche and start to create your marketing plan
- One to one support through the week. A small group allows for an individual focus to make sure you have your own questions answered and have a chance to discuss your individual plan.