Starting a Training and Development Business

Interview with Create-Learning-Team Building Founder Michael Cardus

We spend some time with Michael Cardus, founder of a Buffalo, New York training and development company.

Create-Learning-Team Building is a training and development business based in Buffalo, New York.

We talked with Michael Cardus, the founder of the company, to hear about his experience starting a training company.

Michael, tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?

We specialize in training and development for teams and staff. We make training fun, fast, and effective.

After sitting through one too many "Death by Power Point" presentations, I decided that staff and workforce development should be fun.

We deliver experiential based (hands on) leadership, communication, collaboration and team building programs. Our programs vary from 30 minutes to multiple weeks.

All of our programs are customized for our client's team, culture and staff. NO off the shelf one size fits all training plans. All workplaces are different and we pride ourselves by our ability to adjust our programs to fit the needs of any given team.

When did you start the business?

I started the company two years ago in 2006.

I was contacted by a local college to design their freshman orientation for 500+ students.

When I received that first group, there was no stopping me. I was on my way.

What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?

Before this I was working for a conference center as their training and development specialist. Plus, I was totally geeking it out reading speaking and researching experiential education, developmental and training design.

Where did you get the startup money?

Credit cards and my limited savings -- as well as the love of my fiancée who pushed me to pursue my dream of starting my own training and development company.

Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?

There are many consultants and team building companies out there. Competing is a small part of my strategy. Instead I call those who are consultants in many varied fields and attempt to learn and collaborate with them. I know and understand that collaboration and partnering with your competitors makes your business stronger.

One thing I do use to get my name out there is write a blog - and share information with as many people and teams that I can.

Has your experience in running a business been different from what you expected?

Yes. When you talk to people about running your own business, it seems like lollipops, sunshine and endless money!

This is not true. Now I do eat many lollipops and I enjoy the sunshine, but the money train moves slowly and stops are not that often.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

No, everything I did has developed and been a learning experience.

What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?

Spending a lot of time on customer service has been very important to our success.

We treat all the teams and corporations that allow me to serve them respectfully as special teams. I've realized that if you have passion and are kind to people, they will spread word of mouth marketing and be your best champions.

What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?

Do it! Develop your niche, find your passion and chase it until your feel like you are going to vomit! Then chase it more and learn!

Realize that if you are going to be a team development consultant, you need to learn, read and do an excellent job. If you do a poor job, you are ruining the reputation of all those who are around you.

That is very true. Your business is really only as good as its reputation. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us.

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