I turned my passion into my career by setting up Talksmart Training, a mobile training company delivering quality focused and tailored First aid courses to organisations, community groups, volunteers, businesses and government agencies all across Australia.
When the kids were young, I was a stay at home mum, juggling my commitments on the family farm with parenting duties, volunteer roles and part-time employment at the local neighbourhood house. / Adult Learning Centre before my husband and I took a leap of faith, to try something new.
When our children left home my husband and I took a leap of faith, to try something new. We decided to sell our third-generation family farm and leave the Mallee where we had both been born and spent our entire lives.
We moved to Ballarat to manage Ballarat Goldfields Holiday Park owned by the Watts Family. We lived this life for three years before we decided to relocate to Echuca.
I secured employment as a trainer/assessor with Federation Training delivering training in holiday parks & resorts, tourism, hospitality and business in Echuca. I worked in this role for nine years covering regional areas from Melbourne to Mildura.
Whilst in this role, I identified there was a ‘gap’ in the market, particularly in rural communities for a first aid training provider who understood the needs of country people and prided themselves on providing a quality training experience.
Many providers and trainers from larger regional towns and cities do not understand the issues or needs of people living in rural communities. Just because people don’t live in the city or a large regional town, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have access to quality training opportunities in their own communities.
I was born and bred on a farm, I had worked in a community development role organising and facilitating adult education in the local neighbourhood house and I had delivered and assessed training programs. I had extensive knowledge of first aid and sports training from my roles as an ambulance community officer and a sports trainer for local football and netball clubs. I had good knowledge of governance and compliance from undertaking executive roles on committees and boards.
I developed a partnership arrangement with Allens Training whereby I could deliver nationally recognised first aid training under their auspices and TalkSmart Training was born.
The success of TalkSmart Training has been my ability to build positive and trusted relationships with clients and participants and to be flexible to the needs of my target audience, which is country communities and businesses.
Building a brand takes time and effort. You need to know what you are prepared to do to be successful. My tips for building a successful business in the country are:
Building a business is time consuming anywhere, but especially so in rural areas where you might have to travel extensively and for days at a time. Decide how much time are you prepared to devote to your business, share the load and find the right mix between family and business. I started on a small scale and have invested more time and money as my business has grown.
Start with small ideas and test the concept, build on what is effective and has the potential to make you money and then throw away what fails. I have taken risks to see what works along the way. I constantly look for new opportunities to develop my existing business by adding additional courses to my scope of practice.
In rural areas, you don’t necessarily need to break the bank either. Start-up and ongoing costs can be cheaper. The target market may be smaller but you will have less competition. Ensure you have a presence in the digital marketing space as this keeps you in touch with everyone.
Talksmart Training was a name I created because I love talking. Building a business requires you to do just that in rural areas. You need to know the people, invest in the community and provide excellent customer service. Prove to them why you are great at what you do and in turn, you will have very loyal customers. Clients are very happy to give word of mouth referrals if they are happy with your service.
I have developed great rapport with Neighbourhood Houses, sporting clubs, schools and local businesses throughout the region and I am prepared to travel to them and fit in with their schedules. I work around busy seasonal times such as cropping and harvest, and I run courses at times that suit my clients, night or day. I cater to the needs of a diverse population, tailor my classes to ensure that all of my participants feel valued and respected and I provide the appropriate resources for their individual learning needs. I continually look for opportunities to expand and update my skills and knowledge through on-going education and training to deliver a high quality and relevant learning experience to my clients. Recently I attended a seminar at Westmead Children’s Hospital in Sydney to update my knowledge on anaphylaxis.
The biggest challenge is being prepared to have a go at something new, rather than waiting for something to happen. You can make it happen, think outside the box, develop an idea, talk with lots of people and get a mentor to bounce your ideas off, but most of all be honest and be accountable to your business and your clients, it can lead to great things.