business persons plan a project
ATD Blog

Winning Talent Development Firms Create a Business Plan and Structure

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Once you’ve figured out the TD industry’s dynamics, what you really want and need, and your organization’s purpose—what you are doing and why—put together a business plan and structure for your small practice or larger entity that can help manifest your ideas into an operationally executable strategy.

The first thing to figure out is what actual business you are in. To simplify this, ask and answer two basic questions:

1. Are you in the education or training business?
2. Is your primary focus on content or delivery?

Before you answer these two questions, first clarify exactly you are trying to achieve. What outcomes do your clients expect? Answering these two questions will help you decide how to differentiate your organization going forward, pulling the most effective levers, developing a plan going forward, and putting an appropriate structure in place to enable your success.

Definitions of Levers

The learning formats for a purely educational versus training endeavor will be quite different depending on the goals, objectives and intended outcomes of the endeavor.

  • Education: This is purely the presentation of information and knowledge. It focuses on the acquisition of both. This is critical for understanding such items as processes, procedures, rules, regulations, and technical information.
  • Training: This entails learning a skill that results in behavior change. It focuses more on the application of the information and knowledge acquired.
  • Content: This refers to the actual information, or intellectual property, you are bestowing on others, which may or may not be unique and proprietary to your business. This is what you are presenting.
  • Delivery: This refers to the methods and ways you are using to bestow this content information to the end users. This is you are presenting.

This is not to say you can’t focus on all four of these levers simultaneously although it will be difficult for your organization to be differentiated the more levers you pull. Focus on what you know and do best when deciding what to offer your clients. Once you do this, you will be able to put into place a go-to-market plan that will best take advantage of your overall capabilities.

Types of Plans

It is important to understand there are several types of plans, all of which are critical to your business’s success, but each of which has its own term, purpose, goal, and review requirement. The table below offers this comparison. As can be seen, they are very different in scope but taken together provide the backbone for starting and running a successful business.

Plan Type

Business Plan

Operating Plan

Strategic Plan

Term

Evergreen

1 year

3–5 year

Purpose

Establish the business

Measure the business

Define the business

Goal

Foundation setting

Financial effectiveness

Vision achievement

Review

Once or twice

Annually and ongoing

Periodically and quarterly

Business Structure

Lastly, it is important you consult a professional attorney and accountant to help you decide which business structure will best benefit your personal and professional goals. You have several options, each of which caters to specific interests and needs:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership
  • Limited Liability Corporation
  • S Corporation
  • C Corporation

Without going into detail and a comparison of each, the major differences across these respective business structures are around degrees of personal liability and taxation regulations.

As you think about either establishing a new TD entity or expanding a current one, decide which levers will best focus the business, create the necessary business plans, and determine which business structure will most effectively meet your personal and professional goals.

About the Author

Steve Cohen is founder and principal of the Strategic Leadership Collaborative, a private consulting practice focused on business strategy and development. A 40+ year veteran of the talent development industry, largely on the supplier side, he has demonstrated a proven track record for building equity by growing top and bottom-line performance for eight different consulting enterprises in the education and training industry he has either founded and/or led. He has been called on to consult with numerous firms needing strategic planning guidance, business coaching, and board advisory services.

His first book, The Complete Guide to Building and Growing a Talent Development Firm, was published by ATD in 2017. His recent follow-up, 12 Winning Strategies for Building a Talent Development Firm is now available on Amazon.

He can be reached at: 952.942.7291 or [email protected]

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.