Taking the plunge: Is it time to quit your day job?
The decision to leave your day job and pursue your passion as a firearms instructor is an important decision. Turning your avocation into your vocation can be the first step to achieving career satisfaction or the beginning of a nightmare. Here are some important factors to consider before taking the plunge.
- Income replacement. Can you actually replace your income by becoming a professional full time trainer? If you can, and you have the ability to quickly get classes set, then your decision is pretty easy. If you aren’t sure, then you probably need to make tough choices about whether the timing is right. Having a cash reserve set aside to cash flow your business while you are starting out is not a luxury, it is a requirement. If you don’t have the discipline to save money so you can pursue your dream, then you probably don’t have the discipline to work this as a job every day. Like any small business owner, your relationship to your business is a marriage that has to be cultivated, nurtured and worked on every single day. Having the cash reserve on hand will allow you to spend money on necessary things such as website development, content, accounting services, legal services, marketing services, etc. It will also be necessary to bridge the gap in earnings while your business gets off the ground.
- Courage. Do you have what it takes to bet on yourself? What is your risk tolerance? If you are a risk averse person, then starting a full time training business may not be the best match for you. Some people are just better suited to having a traditional job. Others are best suited working for themselves. They can deal with the uncertainty of work, money, etc., in order to not have a boss. So, know yourself and be brutally honest with yourself.
- Liking guns is not enough. Being a firearms enthusiast is great. But, it is not enough. It does not translate to being a successful trainer. You have to develop yourself as a trainer, work hard at developing legitimacy and the skills necessary to be great at teaching.
- The work does not stop. Professional full time trainers have to work more than the average person because they are managing a brand. They are the brand. So, marketing does not sleep. Social media is an incredibly valuable tool to reach potential students. Posting on social media, developing web content for your site, planning curriculum for classes, studying, repairing targets stands, painting and maintaining steel targets, maintaining your guns and gear, scheduling, payroll, range relationship work, etc., etc. The list goes on and on.
- Self development. The real professionals make the time necessary to improve their skills as a shooter and as a trainer/teacher. Developing effective interpersonal skills, listening and communicating effectively as valuable skills. They have to be developed. Improving yourself as a shooter and tactician allows you to teach a broader range of classes, thus making money.
- Be 100% honest with yourself about yourself. Can you stand over 8 hours a day, in 100 degree heat, or freezing snow for 5 consecutive days and then turn around and work all weekend before starting all over the next week. If you do not possess basic physical fitness, this career is not for you. Stick to teaching a weekend class on occasion. Doing this for a living is hard work. Physically and intellectually demanding. Be honest with yourself if you can really do this all the time.
Regardless whether you make the decision to go full time, please feel free to contact FTA for additional information on furthering your career as a Firearms Trainer. FTA is an important partner for you in this industry.