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BUSINESSWISE | Making money from workshops

Published:Friday | July 24, 2015 | 2:41 PM

Question: I'm a university graduate and have sent out hundreds of job applications for several months with no luck at getting a job. I've come up with a wonderful idea to start running workshops on marketing and business management, which I majored in at university. I decided on this because I would be putting my education and knowledge to work for me without requiring upfront capital, machinery, or labour. Based on my figures, I could make over $150,000 from just one workshop with 30

people, charging $5,000. If I keep my expenses at $30,000, I could make $120,000 profit in just one day. I know you do training and wondered if you could offer any advice to make maximum profits and possibly even transform this into a long-term business venture?

- Shakera

BUSINESSWISE: I love the idea of putting your education and training to work for you in the way you have proposed, but from a practical point of view, it is very difficult to organise

marketing or business-manage-ment workshops and attract 30 participants willing to spend $5,000.

I wish you had sent a breakdown of your estimated budget so I could see how you arrived at a mere $30,000 to cover your costs.

To the uninitiated, workshops may seem like a fast and simple way to make money, but having had considerable experience running various business and entrepreneurship training events, I can tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, over the last two years, it has become increasingly difficult to earn a profit from business-training workshops because of rising costs and limited demand - that is, participants who are willing and able to pay for training.


Let me give you an idea of a very modest training budget for 30 people:

Marketing - $20,000 (graphic design and social media ads)

Room rental - $25,000

Equipment rental - $15,000

Lunch and refreshments - $35,000

Printing of training booklets - $30,000

Training materials - $5,000

Trainer fee (your time) - $30,000

Administration - $20,000

Total - $180,000

Although I've outlined a minimal schedule of costs, it should give you an idea of how much time, work, money, and coordination goes into executing a basic training event. I've put in a very modest trainer fee for you because you are inexperienced and have no track record of accomplishment to justify a higher rate.

However, you should be mindful that your fee covers not just the cost of delivering training on the day of the workshop, but also the many hours it will take beforehand to do research and prepare training content and practice.


I think your profit target is too high, if you are bent on trying to make $120,000 profit in one day, you would need to charge

at least double the amount you had planned. In fact,

it is overly ambitious to expect to attract 30 participants with a marketing spend of just $20,000 even if you were an established trainer.

Some people have spent tens of thousands on television, radio and print ads to promote their workshops only to get a handful of interested persons with fewer still able to pay. Which brings me to the other key point - the demand for training.


The most recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report for Jamaica suggested that the country urgently needs more entities to offer effective business development training to entrepreneurs. However, the fact is the majority of business owners don't value or invest in training for themselves or their employees.

The crux of the matter therefore, is not how costly it is to execute training, but how difficult it is to convince potential attendees of the value and benefits to be derived.

I know these facts may have dampened your spirit, but it's important that you understand the realities of what currently exists to better plan and manage your expectations.

In terms of what you can do to maximise profits, I would suggest you creep before you walk. Establish enough value that your potential customers would be willing to pay for before obsessing over money. Build your brand and demonstrate your worth.

Start by outlining your unique value proposition. Consider a marketing or other business-related problem that is common to many small and medium-sized businesses and outline a training solution that can effectively address it. Then tweak your offering to specifically meet the needs of a viable niche.

Test it to make sure it works. You may need to offer your training for free initially for proof of concept and success stories. You can incorporate technology solutions such as Google Hangout to keep your costs low. See:

Try to establish partnerships with other experienced trainers or volunteer your services so you can get further training experience and testimonials under your belt as well as expand your network.

If you are serious about training, you will need to ascertain certification as a trainer, but first try it out and ensure you like it, are good at it, and can make it viable.

One love!

Yaneek Page is an entrepreneur and trainer, and executive producer of The Innovators TV series.


Twitter: @yaneekpage