All businesses, regardless of their size, benefit from training. And they know that. But let’s talk about the elephant in the room: can a small business afford to deliver large, expensive L&D programs? Probably not. Training for small businesses can be a challenge. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t compete with those larger enterprises.
If you’re a startup or a small growing enterprise, chances are your budget allocation is minimal. And you probably don’t have a dedicated L&D team. You know you should offer training, and any hesitation isn’t because you don’t care about your employees’ career development. But it can be hard to justify spending when you’re running lean already.
The good news is there are cost-effective options that help you make the most of your limited resources. A training program doesn’t have to be expensive to be valuable. With the right tools and a focus on the most relevant topics, you can provide your employees with a meaningful training experience, no matter your business size.
Small businesses have big training needs
Most companies offer some degree of training. You likely have mandatory training for when a new hire joins the team. But to serve your business, you need to invest in training that goes beyond onboarding.
A well-planned strategy for employee training offers benefits you can’t afford to miss out on. Two are particularly relevant in today’s evolving market:
- Training keeps your employees happy and retains top talent. Employees cite opportunities for learning and development as top incentives to stay with an organization. They want to work for a company that recognizes their potential and is willing to invest in their career growth. Since remote work has expanded job seekers’ prospects, training is key to retaining talented workers.
- Training positions your company for growth. Your company can only grow if your employees grow with it. When you train your employees, you give them the skills they need to do their jobs today. You also prepare them to handle business on a bigger scale.
Small businesses, like businesses of any size, need to invest in training if they want to attract and retain top talent and scale their teams in the future. But without a big budget—or experience rolling training out across a company—it can be hard to know where to start.
Let’s take a look at what you should be teaching and a few tips for implementing training in a small company.
6 must-have courses for small businesses
For a well-rounded and effective training strategy, focus on skills that are relevant across roles and departments. General skills content is a quick way to build out your training plan, and it will give your employees a strong foundation to build on.
Here are six courses you should prioritize in small business employee training:
With so much of the workforce operating remotely, online data security is more important than ever. Offer courses that bring your employees up to speed on crucial skills for sharing sensitive data, recognizing potential security concerns, and addressing breaches.
As your company grows, you want your teams to be familiar with proper procedures and be able to handle a growing workload safely.
No matter your company size or structure, effective communication is crucial to productivity. Teach your team the skills to share information clearly, speak up when they have concerns, and resolve conflicts.
Clear communication helps you avoid costly mistakes and ensure everyone is on the same page as your company moves forward.
3. Diversity and inclusion
When everyone’s voice is heard, companies are more productive and employees are happier. As a small business, you have a lean team that needs to work together. Create an environment that gets everyone’s best thinking on the table by offering training that teaches the value of diversity. Educate employees on recognizing and overcoming biases.
Diversity and inclusion training is also crucial for helping managers understand how to treat every member of their team fairly.
4. Project management and processes
As a small business, you may not have completely structured processes yet. You can build efficiency and prepare your company to scale by training employees on how to manage projects and workflows.
Training around work processes and project management will help get everyone on the same page. And understanding efficient work methods will help your team develop their own best practices.
5. Goal setting
The skills to set meaningful goals and systematically achieve them are crucial to productivity. Team members and managers need to learn to recognize the key indicators that will matter to the business success.
They also need to know how to set (and achieve) goals that move those indicators in the right direction. When people have these skills, your company grows more quickly and efficiently, with no time wasted figuring out where to go next.
6. Leadership skills
Lastly, consider sharing lessons on leadership across your organization. In small businesses, employees are often charged with managing key parts of the business, no matter their role.
Teaching skills like how to make decisions, delegate, and be inclusive will help them do their work with confidence. It will also prepare them to move into more leadership roles as your company grows.
Tips for successful training for small businesses
Figuring out the right training strategy for your small business may require some trial and error. But there are steps you can take to streamline the process and find the right fit faster. And the sooner you start implementing your training, the more quickly you can grow.
First, start with a learning management system (LMS) that will make rolling out your training easy and efficient. Finding the best LMS for small business will depend on your needs. But you can narrow it down by deciding which features matter to you. Then try out a free LMS, or one with a flexible plan, so you don’t have to commit without testing it first.
Second, consider buying ready-made courses for general skills training. Unless the content is specific to your company alone, you can often provide a good learning experience with off-the-shelf content. Pre-made training is already vetted for content and learning, and it will save you the cost of hiring experts and trainers for each topic you train.
Finally, just because it’s training for small businesses, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t grow. Gather input from your employees, find out what they’re interested in learning more about, and update your strategy to fit your needs as you go.
Also, make sure to identify areas for improvement. Rolling out training as soon as you can is important. But you don’t have to stay locked into a plan that doesn’t serve your employees. Use LMS features or run post-training surveys to get valuable feedback from learners. Figure out what’s working and what’s not, and update content as needed.
Make your small business employee training consistent
Training is an invaluable part of a good employee experience. Consistency is as important as quality when it comes to reaping the benefits of employee development. Develop a training plan that includes foundational skills for success. Then stick with it.
Persistence is important to training, just as it is to any aspect of growing a small business.
Your employees are your greatest asset. Show them you’re invested in their success with robust, regular opportunities for skill development.