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Staff Development: Training Your Employees on a Small Budget

Intentional training, leveraging subject matter experts, and comprehensive documentation can empower your staff, enhance productivity, and foster long-term business success.

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Having a minimal operating budget in your small business can sometimes mean that certain things fall by the wayside, not the least of which is staff development and employee training.

In any small-scale enterprise, particularly a startup venture, it can seem that there's never enough capital to cover everything that's required to actually do business. The demands of each day bring with them an endless array of new challenges, all clamoring for attention. In many instances, the obvious fix is having more money available to apply to the problem.

Lack of adequate staffing, up-to-date equipment, software, or available funds to invest in new projects can wreak havoc with even the best-laid plans. But fixating on money as the sole solution to the problem can launch a vicious cycle.

We start a business at least partially motivated to make money. We undertake the journey, hoping to grow and develop, gradually increasing our company's net worth, only to quickly discover that the path toward that success is strewn with obstacles we can't easily sidestep. Conventional wisdom dictates that the catalyst for overcoming these difficulties will lie in a more robust structure to our business, whether extra staff members or a comprehensive new piece of technology. Since these approaches all require money, and our company isn't yet developed to the degree that allows us to have a more than adequate cash flow, we can feel like a ping pong ball.

We want to prosper, but problems prevent us from doing so. The only apparent solution is to fix them by applying money (which we don't have). Faced with this dilemma, some businesses can inadvertently adopt a self-defeating attitude born out of the frustration of feeling like they're in constant lack. An undercurrent of desperation can permeate the overall operating philosophy governing each business day. The company becomes obsessed with doing things on the cheap, and one of the first casualties can end up being employee training. The underlying mindset is "shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grindstone," so anything that doesn't appear to be revenue-generating is relegated to the back burner.

According to a 2022 article on, approximately 60% of employees claim that they've never received formal training on how to perform their jobs. Beyond cursory guidance when first accepting their position, most must learn by experience. This unstructured approach can't be described as a recipe for success because of the variation in attention span and self-motivation between one person and the next. And yet, the mentality of focusing only on those things that readily make money causes this poor training methodology to be perpetuated, generating even further complications and potential weaknesses in the overall business structure.

The sad reality is that many entrepreneurs need to pay more attention to how beneficial proper, structured training can be for the individual employees themselves and the business as a whole. Training is often lumped into the same category as staff meetings – completely nonproductive, non-revenue generating "dead time." But, while it's true that conducting a training session won't produce immediate financial benefits, ensuring that your staff has a thorough understanding of every facet of their job description will set a healthy precedent for the entire organization to be on an even keel. The key to fully appreciating how this works is to look at the short-term positives that will be a natural byproduct of adopting this approach.

When it gets right down to it, the greatest opponent to productivity is interruption. When someone is enmeshed in their independent job function, having to stop and divert their attention to assist someone else will cause a serious continuity break. What can seem like a minor pause has the potential to actually impart a sizeable impact, as the person who was interrupted now needs to take at least several moments to recalibrate the original task at hand. This is detrimental enough with a few interruptions throughout the day. However, multiple inquiries from the same person or several different staff members can have the net result of killing the person's productivity on the receiving end of the questions.

This problem is further intensified when the individual sought out to provide assistance happens to be in management. Now, in addition to a productivity disconnect, there is also the potential that administrative functions will be negatively impacted. The manager could be deep in the throes of working out the details of a complex issue, the outcome of which has repercussions for the entire company, so a disruption of their thought process takes on even more weight. Another more insidious aspect of constantly depending on assistance from management is that the employee will never develop any significant type of empowerment in performing their job duties.

When this happens, team members lose any sense of initiative or independent thought. By constantly running to a manager for help, team members will grow to second-guess even mundane decisions they make, and any possibilities of professional growth and increase of their skillset will go right out the window. This carries with it the added detriment of creating a climate of collaboration within the team that is virtually impossible. When staff needs endless hand-holding to carry out their essential job functions, that's pretty much the extent of what will be happening in their business unit and, ultimately, throughout the entire company.

The forward-looking entrepreneur must embrace the reality that people don't just intuitively know how to do their jobs. Even if someone comes on board directly out of a decade of tenure doing something very similar for another company, the subtle nuances that differentiate each business entity dictate that adjustments must be made to translate the worth of that experience into the current position. Embracing an intentional approach becomes a win-win for the staff member and the business. The expertise from the previous job now has a logical way to be assimilated into the new position's responsibilities, ensuring a smoother transition for the employee. The company, too, will find great benefit when the staff person's previous history is intentionally connected with their current duties.

Regardless of the size of the business, it's probably not practical to expect there to be one trainer (or even several) who will know all the ins and outs of each job function in the company. But the secret to leveraging the knowledge base that already exists in your business is to identify key team members who are so adept at what they do to be considered subject matter experts. Let these seasoned, tenured staff play a significant role in properly instructing new hires. Rather than the randomness of endless questions and answers, working with these staff to establish a formalized training protocol ensures that those who know the job best will pass their knowledge along as new employees come on board.

The last critical component in this process involves documentation. It can seem like a counterproductive exercise to have someone devote hours to creating written procedures and other supporting items. However, the time spent will pay for itself repeatedly when the materials are used. Now, your staff can be fully equipped with tools that empower them to carry out their job functions rather than being a poorly-trained group of struggling employees who always need assistance.

There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting our businesses to make money, but that doesn't mean that it's the only viable fix for whatever is broken. Sometimes, simply focusing on the incredible value of what the people who work for us know how to do becomes the most incredible tool we could ever hope to possess.



Greatness lies not just in profit margins but in the invaluable wealth of your team's expertise. Take a bold step. Invest in your staff, empower them through structured development, and watch your business soar. True prosperity isn't just measured in dollars but in the knowledge and skills that drive your success. Ready to elevate your business? Contact us for personalized coaching and strategies tailored to your unique niche. Your success story starts here. Visit, email us at, or call 240-329-9387. Then, don't forget to check our recent videos on YouTube by clicking HERE. #BusinessSuccess #StaffDevelopment #CoachingJourney"

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