25 years Owning a Training Business: What I Love

25 years Owning a Training Business: What I Love

This past week I celebrated the 25th consecutive year of owning a training business.  I had an opportunity to reflect on what I love about getting to serve the training industry.

The People

The first thing that quickly jumps out to me is all the people I’ve met over the years. I have served dozens of clients, presented to hundreds of people and created courses that have reached thousands of employees and students. I’ve had the good fortune to partner with amazingly smart people that have expanded my industry knowledge and taught me many personal life lessons. Every project of which I’m a part, I try to learn as much as I teach. As an instructional designer, I work with subject matter experts that teach me about their industries. I’m in constant learning mode, which makes every day new and different.

The Content

I love learning new things. Every project has new content that needs to be learned, assimilated and then designed into training. In the side bar, I’ve listed some of the areas in which I’ve been fortunate to learn new skills.

The Companies

Every company that I work with has a unique culture. It has a history with current and evolving values and goals that are reflected in the people from the company with whom I work. I have learned something new from every company that I apply to my own business approach.

The Tools

Many of my clients work with my training services business specifically because I enjoy staying current with learning technologies. It has been great fun to watch learning tools evolve and to be able to contribute to that evolution. Over the years, I have designed and been part of teams that have built five different course development and learning management tools. Some are still being used today. I have been able to watch tools evolve from authoring languages, screen recording and slide-based tools to standards-based suites of feature-rich applications. Adobe Captivate was once RoboDemo. Articulate Storyline started from a set of PowerPoint quiz add-ons. Current tools evolved from authoring languages like TUTOR. Slide-based tools evolved from Hypercard stack-like development. Many electronic course development tools have come and gone, but were great fun to learn and use.

The Techniques

I enjoy watching new instructional designers learn the historical methods of teaching that began with military training back in World War II and have evolved since then through learning psychology. Some people might call it reinventing the wheel. I prefer to think of it more positively as figuring things out without the benefits of a good ID history class. While there is truly nothing new under the learning sun (people have been learning just fine over centuries without modern technologies), it’s amazing to watch these techniques applied to recent Internet, mobile device, and social media revolutions.

Industries Served

  • Accounting
  • Corporate tax
  • Corporate auditing
  • Business consulting services
  • Technology
  • Software development
  • Web development
  • Learning management
  • Quick service restaurants
  • Franchising
  • Medical
  • Nutrition
  • Retail
  • Actuarial science
  • Commercial insurance
  • Personal insurance
  • Pensions
  • Sales
  • Enterprise risk management
  • Human resource development
  • Banking
  • Automotive
  • Telecommunications
  • Retail mall properties
  • Real estate development
  • Hospitality & leisure
  • Branded consumer products
  • Media and communications

Less than 20% …

Of new businesses will make it to their 25th anniversary. I feel proud to have achieved that longevity mark. I’m even more happy to have enjoyed the ride, to have learned new things and to be excited to see if I can eek out another 25 years!



Jim provides a very good blend of the technical and practical to his work.  An instructional designer who also talks geek-speak is invaluable. I would recommend Jim's services without hesitation to anyone looking for help in the e-Learning field.

- Steve Eadie
Partner, Robertson, Eadie & Associates


Jim Hicks

Bloomington, IN
Chicago, IL
Milwaukee, WI