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- Who: Joe Aherne
- Website: leadingedgegroup.com
- Course Topic: Lean & Agile Training
- Interesting Stats: 4,000 LinkedIn followers
Who are you and what digital training company have you created?
My name is Joe Aherne, and I am the CEO and founder of Leading Edge Group, a leadership training and consulting company focused on business development and digital transformation. Our digital lean-agile training and leadership programs are specifically designed to increase the natural bond between leaders and their staff. At Leading Edge Group, we grow as your organization grows and work with you every step of the way to realize your organization’s true potential because we care about your people, your culture and your customers.
What market does your digital training serve?
Our digital training is directed towards Lean, Agile, and overall change management; all topics that are very relevant to industry leaders and company managers. Constantly striving for more training and learning options helps leaders better understand themselves, their customers, and their employees and how to serve each best.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your online courses?
Put simply, the most significant benefit of our online lean training for leaders is that it makes them better leaders. Our courses provide them with the knowledge and tools to improve organizational efficiency, reduce waste, and increase overall productivity. Our lean training courses teach leaders how to identify and eliminate inefficiencies in their organization’s processes and digitally transform process areas that need changing, ultimately leading to cost savings and increased profitability.
How did you get into the market?
As a CPA, my career has taken me to financial positions in many different industries and countries. This multiplicity of management roles showed me that many organizations worldwide struggle with digital and lean transformation. Leading Edge Group began as a consulting firm dedicated to helping leaders streamline the capabilities of their workforces and increasing the focus on building the best value throughout production. After establishing in 1995 in Cork, Ireland, I quickly grew and expanded, adding service options in Australia, the Middle East, and Canada.
Why did you decide to create a digital training company?
The digital training aspect of the business has many benefits to both our organization and the companies we work with. Creating digital training options expands our user base worldwide, which is vital as we try to reach new markets. It also allows leaders to choose the option that works best for them in their leadership journey instead of waiting for an in-person consultation or training course. Offering self-directed eLearning courses has helped us reach those who could not take the course in any other offering methodology. It also allowed us to expand our course types and offerings, opening us up to new market opportunities.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you launched your training company?
Starting any training company is wrought with challenges and doubts. The biggest challenge is just in persuading leaders to continue investing in training. Many leaders feel they’ve already reached the top of their career trajectory and don’t want to invest in training options anymore. But, in identifying this as a challenge, we overcame it by expanding our team of expert trainers and consultants.
I wanted to ensure that organizations could look at our courses and realize they were being delivered by industry experts focusing on transformation and lean consulting. By identifying that we had access to these experts, organizations became more likely to realize that they needed their leaders to fill the gaps. Even if you’ve reached the ‘pinnacle’ of your career, ongoing learning can help you grow and become a better leader and is an investment in your organization’s future.
What are your online courses like?Our online courses are offered as unit-based lessons, where students go through several units with different focuses. - Joe Aherne Click To Tweet
When it comes to self-directed online courses, our Learning Management System delivers these units to students directly, allowing them to work at their own pace and pick up where they left off.
Course content includes slides, notes, live-action videos, and additional resources like a textbook and article access. Students are also able to have access to an expert mentor they can chat with throughout the course completion process. There are practical examples and skill tests throughout the courses, allowing students to really expand their knowledge through practice.
How long does it take you or your team to create a new course?
Our community of experts has over 50 members, each dedicated to addressing organizational challenges and enabling sustainable company growth through ongoing training and consulting. When developing a new course, we work directly with these experts to develop learning materials to custom-fit the chosen topic.
Our online, self-directed learning modules all follow a similar pattern regarding content development and offering, though each is different in its subject material. Experts will write and create materials necessary for learning, decide on unit titles and learning goals, and record any necessary training videos.
This can take us as little as a couple of weeks or more than a year depending on various factors and discussion between the experts involved.
Tell us a little about the process of launching your first course and getting your first enrollment(s).
Our first-course offering was an in-person model directed towards lean-agile training. Getting those first enrollments for the course was so exciting, and a big draw for those initial sign-ups is that since the beginning, we have offered lean agile certification through our training program. Many organizations value lean methodology, especially growing organizations focusing on value throughout production. But, not many organizations have certified Lean experts helping them adapt and reduce their non-value-added activities – I think that’s a big reason our course stood out from the beginning. We offered organizational leaders the opportunity to become Lean certified, which meant they had a real designation and actionable tools and measures to help improve processes and eliminate wasteful workplace endeavors.
Do you have a lead magnet?
Our strongest lead magnets through recent years have been our free Ebooks, readily available on our website. These Ebooks are an example of introducing learners to the concepts and allowing them to go into greater detail about the training courses and consultative services. Our Ebook, “Future Proof Your Organization With Lean,” effectively draws eyes and clicks to our Lean certification training courses.
What online course platform are you using?
Do you like it?
It is ideal for needing complete control over the content but it can be laboursome to manage. Needing a full-time staff member dedicated to managing it.
Are there any features you wish it had?
None spring to mind, however, all systems can be improved; making the software easier to manage and needing less work would be what we want at the moment.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
As I mentioned, it primarily had to do with the control aspect. We needed to be able to dictate and manage whether we wanted video, text, or just PowerPoint involved. Additionally, now that we are used to the software, it would be difficult to learn a new software to manage anything. We have been using this for all our online courses since we started.
What other tools do you use to run your digital training business?
We find Zoom and Google Meets to be very effective methods of connecting with students directly. As I mentioned earlier, our digital training courses come equipped with expert mentors who come alongside students and assist in their learning. The primary way they connect is through Zoom and over in-course messages.
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement by Liker & Franz – Stupendous introduction to Lean and its importance to every organization
Do Hard Things by Steve Magness – Helps you work towards an understanding of toughness and resilience as a business leader
Please share some idea of revenue for your digital training company.
We have an average of 100 students enrolled in our digital training courses at any time but this hugely varies depending on large companies taking part. Additionally, the courses can last for several months, and our training courses have an average cost of $3,000 but mainly because that pricing would be our most popular courses, we have much cheaper courses too. As mentioned, we also offer Lean, Green, and Digital Transformation consulting, which are hugely popular across every industry.
Please tell us a little about what the money you’ve earned from running your digital training company has done for you.
I have been able to re-invest money back into the business. This helps immensely with service offerings and even locations serviced. When I started the business, our only office was in a small Irish coastal town called Cobh. Since then, we have expanded into the UK, Canada, and Australia through ongoing investments back into the business and strategic partnerships! These expansions have helped me grow the team, and I have over 50 team members.
In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?
Creating a successful digital training course and the company is accessing how well you connect with your specific audience. For Leading Edge Group, our audience for training courses and consulting is primarily business leaders currently operating at a high level in their unique organization. So, Linkedin has been our highest-growth social platform and a fantastic source for connection with this audience.
We currently have over 4,000 followers on our Linkedin page, with more followers coming in each day with new course signups. Our community of trainers is also very passionate about sharing resources and making engaging content for students. One of the ways they do that is through videos shared on our Youtube channel. As a result, our channel videos have gained over 230,000 views, with these numbers climbing with every new post. Each platform helps us drive hundreds of new course students per year.
What has creating your digital training business done for you personally?I wake up every day knowing I will be directly helping someone that day. - Joe Aherne Click To Tweet
Whether it’s helping someone grow their leadership skills through a training course, assisting with organizational transformation through consulting, or simply enhancing the experience each of my employees has, Leading Edge Group has grown to the point of helping multiple people in their journey every single day. Nothing makes me more proud than that.
What advice do you have for people just starting out?
For anyone starting, I recommend surrounding yourself with good people you can count on. A lot of entrepreneurs, and people in general, think that they should try to get by on their own. That by trusting in someone else, they will diminish their returns. However, if you have a few dependable people with you, you can accomplish a lot more than you can on your own. Especially if you’re looking into starting a digital training organization.Don’t depend entirely on your knowledge. Lean on the people there to help you. Invest your time growing your skills and network connections. - Joe Aherne Click To Tweet