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Small Business Digest


Five Key Differences in Small Business Training vs. Big Business Training

Every business wants to develop better talent from the bottom up, and they’re investing the capital to do so.

Many small businesses also attempt to do this through training and they are investing money and other resources to improve staff skills.

In fact corporate training spending increased 9.5 percent in 2011, its highest jump in more than three years.

Katherine Doe, Marketing Manager for Skillsoft points out there is a disparity in resources between what small businesses can offer their employees in terms of development opportunities and those of their larger corporate counterparts.

Doe offers a look at five key aspects of training that small and mid-size businesses will need to approach slightly differently: 

  1. Money and Resources: Fewer resources typically translates to less funding for training, limiting options for smaller businesses that want to invest in developing their talent. Off-site and blended learning approaches are usually more expensive, leaving online training (also known as elearning) as the most affordable, scalable alternative. Companies should seek out vendors that leverage the benefits of classroom learning, such as collaborative activities and content interaction, to provide effective training that fits their budget.
  2. Tracking Results: Because small and mid-size business budgets are considerably tighter, training champions are (or at least should be) more compelled to make a business case for their development initiatives. Simply tracking the number of courses taken isn’t enough. It’s important to show marked improvement in employee performance, ideally tying training back to the company’s bottom line.
  3. Time/Efficiency: By its very definition, small businesses have fewer people carrying the load. This makes it difficult for employees to balance time working with time training. If employees are going to be pulled away from the job-at-hand, it better be worth the company’s time and their time. It’s imperative that training can be completed quickly and that it is effective.
  4. 4Employee Engagement in Training: People in general are more willing to participate in activities in which the benefits are apparent. This is where small businesses can use their size to their advantage. It’s one thing to hear managers and executives champion training; it’s quite another to see them participate in the training program. In addition, small businesses tend to be less siloed, allowing the company to share training success stories across all departments. Both of these factors can and should be utilized to drive engagement in a training program.
  5. Goal-Setting and Alignment: Learning is meaningless unless it’s both relevant and the learner understands that relevance. And, with limited funding for training, learning for SMBs must be targeted to maximize impact on performance. Both of these issues are solved with a strong emphasis on setting goals that align with personal and corporate objectives, and aligning training courses that feed into those goals.

It’s important to consider all of these factors individually in the implementation of a training program, but it’s even more important to remember that each of these factors play off of and feed into one another. Whether big or small, companies that emphasize a comprehensive approach to training will build talent that can succeed on any level.

 Katherine Doe is a marketing manager at Skillsoft

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