Thinking about opening an industrial and trade school? We tell you what you need to know to get started.
Distinctive Characteristics of For-Profit Industrial & Trade Schools
Trade or vocational schools have a long history in the U.S. Unlike many traditional university programs, industrial and trade schools train students to perform specific jobs or job skills. Trade schools also differ from traditional universities in that they usually offer two-year, rather than four-year degree programs.
The industrial and trade school community is further broken down into for-profit and nonprofit institutions. As a trade school entrepreneur, it's likely that you will pursue a for-profit launch and your ownership rights will entitle you to retain the institution's profits.
Accreditation for for-profit trade schools occurs at the national level; nonprofit trade schools receive regional accreditation. This distinction can be troublesome because many universities refuse to accept transfer credits from nationally accredited schools, effectively ruling out transfer students from for-profit industrial and trade institutions.
Strategies for Industrial & Trade School Startups
Launching an industrial and trade school isn't the same as starting other types of businesses. Although some of the techniques are similar, for-profit trade schools require several unique strategies to achieve sustained success.
- Gap Analysis. It doesn't make any sense to start a trade school to simply duplicate existing educational opportunities. To be successful, you'll need to identify and target gaps in the vocational training landscape. Membership in organizations like the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE) can offer insights about gaps and trends that can be leveraged by your startup.
- Strategic Partnerships. One of the ways to overcome the acceptance barrier in the educational community is to forge connections between your for-profit trade school and corporate interests. Strategic partnerships with industrial leaders create benefits all around and can even be used as a funding source for new educational initiatives.
- Real World Staffing. For-profit trade schools have the ability to employ faculty directly from the industrial business community. Academic credentials are often less important and less valuable than the real world experience of industry veterans. Consequently, you'll want to emphasize the "real world" nature of your degree program in your marketing and advertising content.
How to Create Effective Industrial & Trade School Business Plans
A great business plan will lay a strong foundation for growth in your startup industrial and trade school.
The most effective industrial and trade school business plans include a comprehensive chapter on finances. Since investors and lenders rely heavily on your business plan's financial forecasts, fudged numbers and vague forecasting are a sure way to sabotage your funding efforts.
Subsequently, a thorough understanding of business plan financial basics is a prerequisite to effective business plan writing for industrial and trade schools.
Don't Overlook the Competition
Well in advance of opening an industrial and trade school within your community, it's essential to see what the competition looks like. Try our link below to generate a list of competitors in your area. Complete the form by entering your city, state and zip code to get a list of industrial and trade schools that are close by.
Prior to opening your doors for business, be sure you fully understand the competitive landscape and where your new business will fit in.
Turning Competitors Into Collaborators
If you are seriously contemplating launching an industrial and trade school, the next step is to learn from folks who are already in business. Local competitors are not going to give you the time of day, mind you. The last thing they want to do is help you to be a better competitor.
Fortunately, somebody who runs an industrial and trade school in a location that is not competitive to you can be a great learning resource for you, provided that you won't be directly competing with them. In that case, the business owner may be more than happy to discuss the industry with you. If you are persistent, you can find a business mentor who is willing to help you out.
Where do you find an entrepreneur who is running an industrial and trade school who is willing to advise you because you live in different cities?
Here's how we would do it. Try the useful link below and key in a random city/state or zipcode.
Industrial & Trade School Acquisitions: Financial Considerations
You've invested a lot of time and effort in planning your startup. But here's something you probably don't know: Startup industrial and trade schools consistently fail to achieve the financial performance of acquired industrial and trade schools.
Financial risk management requires you to at least consider the possibility of setting your startup plans aside to explore acquisition opportunities. At a minimum, it's worth exploring the financial benefits of buying a business to get an established customer base.
Based on the acquisition target's financial records, you should be able to piece together a realistic forecast of your new company's financial picture for the first year and beyond. If you need assistance, we suggest talking to an accountant or professional business planning consultant.
Consider Buying a Franchise
The odds of thriving in your new business are much better if you decide to franchise in lieu of doing everything yourself.
As part of your process in starting an industrial and trade school, you may want to check out whether purchasing a franchise might help you on your entrepreneurial journey.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding getting started as an entrepreneur may be of interest to you.
If you currently own an industrial and trade school, these resources will come in handy:
If you sell to industrial and trade schools, you're in the wrong place. Try these resources instead:
If you are still exploring all of your options, please browse our directory of guides below.