Being a small business owner in this economy has been a challenge. As the economy continues to grow at a snail’s pace, we are all looking to do more with less to make sure that we survive. So how can you achieve that, and still make a profit, while keeping both your employees and your customers happy?
The first thing most companies do is to reduce spending and one of the first areas that small businesses cut back on is training and employee development. Some may think that cutting training programs is an easy way to save money, but what is it costing you?
The true cost to your business of training may be hard to quantify, but there definitely is a cost for not training that can easily be correlated to high employee turnover and customer dissatisfaction.
By sending employees to training or encouraging them through a company sponsored development program, you are sending them a message that they are valued and are important to the success of your company. These employees are more productive, more likely to stay with your company and to go above and beyond to ensure the company is successful. They will be up to date on technology, business trends and best practices that can be used to attract and retain customers.
So how can business owners keep their training and development programs intact and still reduce costs?
●Networking: By reaching out to other small businesses in your community or in your line of business, you can get ideas from others at little to no cost. You can find out what is working and not working before you have to find out for yourself.
●Train a few to train many: In the past, you might have sent five people to a training class. Now, you can send one or two people and have them come back to share that knowledge with the rest of the team.
●Low-cost options: Look into community college offerings, trade schools and local professionals who offer classes at lower costs than dedicated training centers or conferences.
In this time of bailouts and government sponsored programs, many may ask what local, state and national governments could do to assist small businesses.
By continuing funding to local and regional community colleges and educational programs, governments can ensure that these low cost programs are still an option to all businesses. Maintaining programs and funding to the Small Business Administration can also guarantee that access to capital is available to fund larger initiatives.
Michelle A. Benjamin is founder and CEO of Benjamin Enterprises, a New York based firm that provides staffing augmentation for government agencies and private firms. She can be reached at 800.677.2532 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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How is your small business responding to the recent slowdown in the economic recovery? Please share your thoughts or your advice for other business owners in the comments below.