I have been spouting off about how the marketing of firearms training is a joke for as long as I’ve been gun blogging. If you open up a martial arts academy, there is one of a jillion marketing companies out there who can help your business grow. If you start teaching concealed carry, there is, umm, errr, ahhh.
And that’s a problem. With the possible exception of the USCCA, pretty much every national certification class out there teaches you how to teach, but they don’t teach you how to be an entrepreneur, which is what you is the minute you decide to charge someone for your services. What good does it do you to learn how to offer an Advanced Tactical Carbine III class if you don’t know how to set up an LLC? This is a huge blind spot in the firearms training world in the U.S. The business side of things is like being in church when the offering plate gets passed around. Sure, it’s necessary because that’s how they keep the doors open and the lights on, but it’s not the reason why people go there, and people get REAL fidgety when you talk about it.
This is why I’m interested in what Brian Sweeney is doing with his “Five Day Bootstrap Challenge.” Brian isn’t going to teaching me how to shoot or how to teach others to shoot. Instead, he’s teaching his students what he learned about growing your business while owning and operating small gyms, and he now wants to take what he learned as a small business owner in that niche market and apply it to firearms training. I’ve been saying for awhile now that concealed carry is the American martial art, but coincidentally, I recently figured out that when it comes to business side of things, it’s like owning a gym.
Think about it. With firearms training, you get people who know they should “do something” about protecting their lives, so they get a gym membership / take a concealed carry class. And for 99% of the people who sign up / take the class, that’s where it ends. So someone like Brian, who has made a living in a similar field, is willing to cross-pollinate that knowledge into firearms training, I’m interested, if for no other reason (and this is really pathetic) that he is literally the only game in town right now. Can I learn something from him? Probably. And I’m not the only one.
In a few weeks, I’m going to Tac-Con. I’m going to learn a bunch of new things (really looking forward to Chuck Haggard’s class on navigating transitional spaces, Cecil Burch’s “Just Enough Jitsu” and Jon Hauptmann talking about concealing your firearm). There will be hundreds of firearms trainers there, but only one (Tiffany Johnson) will teach them anything about how to grow your business. What most trainers don’t get is that there is three parts to any business: What you teach, who you teach it to and how you keep on teaching. The VAST majority of trainers concentrate on the first part, and let the other two slide. Nobody freaks out if you go to the gym or your kid takes a karate class. The sooner that firearms trainers learn that “entrepreneur” is not a four letter word, the sooner firearms training will become accepted into American society.