How to set your start-up employees up for success

Eight training options to ensure you get the most out of your small business staff

You might feel that as a small business, you don’t have the budget to invest in developing your people – or indeed in developing yourself.

But training is essential. It’s important to recognise, that in today’s fast-moving, competitive environment, we all need to keep developing in order to not stand still.

If you are serious about growing your business, you need to make sure you are helping your employees maximise their potential. That means investing some time and effort in developing their skills and talents, so that they can deliver an even better service to clients and customers and help you spot and develop new markets and opportunities.

Training doesn’t have to be expensive – and it isn’t just about sending someone on a course. There are numerous ways people can develop their talents – sometimes it just involves thinking more creatively about what skills they need and how you can help them acquire or develop them.

If employees see that you are prepared to put a bit of time and effort into helping them move forward, they are much more likely to be loyal, committed and prepared to put that little bit extra into the job they do for you. Below are eight training options which may help to stimulate your thinking about how you can develop your employees.

1. Short courses

Short, sharp intensive programmes of study are often more manageable for a small business than lengthy taught qualifications. People are away from work for less time and the costs are usually more realistic. Find out what is on offer from your local college or specialist private providers.

2. E-learning

There are now many opportunities to acquire new skills via e-learning modules. It’s a convenient, cost-effective way to develop your knowledge in bite-sized chunks at a time that suits you. A quick internet search should turn up e-learning courses that are relevant to your area.

3. Job shadowing

This can be a great way for employees to get a realistic view of what is involved in ‘the next step up’ or to help them develop competency in a new area. You could consider letting one of your employees shadow you at sales pitches or presentations, for example, or on visits to potential new suppliers.

4. Job swaps

See if you can arrange a job swap for your employee with someone from another, non-competitive small business. You could even arrange for them to swap jobs for a short time with someone in one of your client companies – a great way for them to get a real insight into how your clients operate and what they need, while at the same time developing new skills.

5. Mentoring

Help your employee find a mentor who can help them think about how to approach situations at work, tackle areas they may be struggling with or identify ways of developing their skills. Some industries run formal mentoring schemes, but there’s nothing to stop you setting up an informal arrangement in your own field if there are no existing programmes to draw on.

6. Coaching

Try taking a coaching approach to managing your employee. Help them think through work issues and share your experience of how best to tackle issues.

7. Projects

Giving an employee a specific project to manage is a great way of helping them develop competency in new areas. Make it a project that will stretch them, and support them by giving advice and guidance on how to tackle it.

8. Skill-swap sessions

Why not set up occasional lunch-time or breakfast sessions where members of the team take turns to share their knowledge and experience of a particular task or area?

If you don’t have enough people to do this internally, use your local professional networks to find other small businesses who might like to join you. These are just a few ideas, which will hopefully give you some food for thought.

Whichever method you choose, make sure you give your employees plenty of opportunity to apply what they have learned in your business. That way, everybody benefits!

Taking on Staff, published by Crimson Publishing, is available to buy now.


(will not be published)