Watching the penniesGood staff development can have enormous benefits for your small business, and a significant impact on your bottom line, but many business owners are worried about the cost of training, so don’t prioritise it as they should.

If you’d like to invest in training for your team but are on a very limited budget, there are plenty of options for free or low-cost learning – here are a few ideas to get you started:

Industry associations

You may be a member of an industry/trade association, or a local business association, or a professional body. Many people are members of groups without actually being aware of all the benefits available to them, but all of these may offer training courses at discounted rates, or conferences/seminars or other learning opportunities free to members, so it’s worth finding out.

Internal experts

It goes without saying that maximising training opportunities internally will be cheaper than paying external companies or trainers to deliver training. Consider getting employees to train each other in aspects of their jobs, to improve flexibility in roles and understanding of the various functions in a team.

Teams could have a staff member who is the ‘expert in’ something, and responsible for keeping up to date with best practice in that area and updating colleagues accordingly, and for training/supporting colleagues in that aspect of work. Similarly, if you identify an external training course which seems useful, send one employee and ask them to feed back key learning points to the team.

Sharing best practice

Teams can also learn from other teams, improving procedures they use and improving understanding of other areas of the organisation. Prompt sharing of best practice within and between teams and departments by setting up a regular forum for this to take place. Encourage teams to feed back when they’ve implemented something they’ve learned from another team in terms of what they did and how it improved performance.

Mentoring programmes

Both junior and senior employees alike can benefit from a mentoring programme set up internally. Being a mentor can increase job satisfaction and develop management skills in senior employees, as well as providing useful support to juniors whilst ensuring valuable knowledge and experience is passed on.

Online resources

Online training is becoming more and more sophisticated and effective, and can be very cost effective and flexible. Employees can work at their own pace and results can be monitored.

Some employees learn better with interaction with others, and a “live” environment, but they can still benefit from online options through using webinars or Q&A feeds.

Adult education

Your local further education college may run various courses which could be useful for staff, and these can often be good value and worth exploring.

There are plenty of other options for low- or no-cost staff development, so with careful research you should be able to identify some training solutions to ensure that your business performance is enhanced even if your budget is tight.

If you’d like advice on any aspect of training in your business, or setting a budget, please get in touch.