IN THIS uncertain economic climate, you may be thinking about an alternative career. You have worked for many years and have acquired enough experience to want to share your knowledge with younger executives. Why not put your knowledge to good use and become a freelance trainer?

You can start your training consultancy business from the comfort of your home. Apart from travel expenses and the cost of producing manuals and training materials, there are few other costs.

As a trainer, you can work flexible hours. Training is also a very fulfilling profession as you help participants achieve their learning goals. You coach and counsel them. When the training produces the desired results, it can be very satisfying.

Find your niche

The training market caters to various groups, including pre-school children, students, operational and clerical staff, executives and senior management.

Focus on one niche area and aim to become a specialist. If you target specific topics, you are more likely to succeed than if you spread yourself too thin, touching on a wide number of general issues but with little depth.

Where to begin

Your educational background is a good starting point. You can train others in the subjects you majored in at university.

A logical choice is to be a trainer in areas related to your career. For example, if you have years of experience in customer service, you can train others in the same area.

You can also teach others about your hobbies or the subjects you are passionately interested in. I have friends who are offering courses on nutrition, wine appreciation, gemology, feng shui, numerology and astrology.

Inspire confidence

A good trainer must inspire confidence in his trainees. He should have credible working experience, deep knowledge and a positive attitude.

Good trainers are those who are enthusiastic and articulate about their subject. They are able to engage participants and inspire their interest in the subject too.

Emotional quotient (EQ) plays a crucial part in a training session. Some participants are slow, so a good trainer knows when to be patient. Some participants have personal or work problems, so he must be empathetic.

He must listen and observe well and have a kind and helpful nature. If you love working with people, this is the right business for you.

Can you be a trainer?

Many trainers are successful executives from the corporate world. But I have also seen trainers from the armed forces, health-care and teaching industries.

Theoretically, executives, teachers and HR practitioners make ideal trainers. But other professionals can also become effective trainers if they are passionate about it.

If you are considering a training career, participate in a "Train-The-Trainer" workshop where you will learn the rudiments of training. It will shorten your learning curve and teach you the tricks of the trade.

Conducting mini-workshops will test both your delivery and the training structure. Over the months, you will gain more confidence in your presentation skills and managing participants, especially the difficult ones. Remember, practice makes perfect.

Widen your reach

When you have arrived as a trainer, you can franchise your training materials to other trainers who want the proprietary rights to them.

You can write a book based on your training materials and expertise. Once you are an expert in your subject as well as presenting it, you can venture abroad to train people in neighbouring countries.

As you grow your clientele, you will be able to develop more training programmes. You can also move into executive coaching, counselling and delivering seminars.