9 Ways To Give Your SMB Employees The Training They Want

Online training is a win-win. Of course it’s wonderful for companies — especially small businesses — who want their people to upgrade their skills and expand their thinking. But the real winners are the employees, who now have a rainbow of colorful training opportunities available to learn any skill, keep up with trends, and add to their resumes.

Just how popular is educational content? An informal poll from @Salesforce recently asked: What value have you embraced most in your career? More than half the respondents chose lifelong learning, demonstrating their innate desire to continually learn and improve. But interestingly enough, they may not always have the opportunity. The 2017 SMB Trends Report shows that while 62% of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) believe training would help them improve operations, they feel hampered in their ability to get the training they need. This is due to costs (60%), time (56%), a perceived lack of available training on the subjects they need (48%), and inconvenient scheduling (46%).

But there’s no need to let those barriers stand in your way. There are *tons* of ways to further your learning — and your employees’ learning — with training and professional development. Here are some of our favorites.

Online Webinars

(Price tag: free)

If you’re ready to dip your toe in the training pool, you might start with something basic like an online webinar. Webinars are generally offered by companies to highlight their own product-related topics. So if there’s a product or company you use often for work, chances are they’ve got a line-up of sessions to help you get the most out of it. Webinars usually last 30-60 minutes, and you can watch them from your computer or mobile device. Even if you can’t make the scheduled date and time, register anyway and you’ll get the on-demand recording of the session… Then watch it whenever you have a few minutes of downtime.

YouTube Videos

(Price tag: free)

Looking for training on something that’s off the beaten path? Try YouTube, where you can find a training video for everything under the sun (a quick YouTube “how-to” search yields more than 260 million results). You’ll have to pick and choose carefully, as these videos may or may not come from a legitimate source, but you can’t beat the convenience.

Grow with Google

(Price tag: free)

Recognizing the transformative power of training and education, Google just announced Grow with Google, a site offering free training, tools, and other resources to help you fine-tune your skills, career, or business. Check out courses on growing your business, scaling your startup, or learning to code. They’ve got plenty of resources right there on the site, but they’re also offering in-person training, too. Click here to see if Grow with Google is coming to a city near you.

TED Talks

(Price tag: free)

Who says professional development has to be boring? TED Talks are short, powerful presentations designed to encourage ideas and innovation. There are TED Talks that pertain to just about every industry, and they’re a wonderful way to learn new perspectives and ideas. While they might not give you a new skill, per se, they’ll definitely open your eyes to new ways of thinking and give you plenty of discussion points for networking. Start by doing a quick search using some industry keywords, or check out the 25 most popular TED Talks of all time.

Khan Academy’s Sal Chats

(Price tag: free)

If classroom learning is more your thing, try Khan Academy, an outstanding organization dedicated to providing “a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere.” Khan offers not only high school and college curriculum courses, but also Sal Chats, an interview series with accomplished entrepreneurs and CEOs. What a wonderful way to be a fly on the wall for conversations with Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and other great minds that can inspire you to go further in your career.

Thought Leadership Podcasts

(Price tag: free)

Podcasts are an easy (and interesting!) way to stay current on trends, ideas, movers, and shakers within any industry, especially if you’re strapped for time. Just download one to your mobile device and make the most of your commute. While not skills based, podcasts often challenge our thinking and offer great discussion points for meetings and networking events. Looking for a good place to start? Search some of your industry keywords, or try a few of our favorites: How I Built This, EntreLeadership, and A Tribe Called Yes.

Software Training Courses

(Price tag: free and paid)

Online software training courses have become more and more prevalent as companies realize the demand for quality content. More formal and in-depth than a webinar, online skills training allows users to work at their own pace; sessions are interactive and often involve a test or quiz at the end to demonstrate mastery. At Salesforce, for example, we’ve developed our own site dedicated to training users on our products and services. Check it out for yourself: Trailhead, the free, interactive training site on all things Salesforce. (There’s even a new Trail Mix designed especially for small businesses!)

Certification Courses

(Price tag: paid)

If you’re in a technical role or industry, a certification can offer some validation that you really know your stuff. Earning a certification usually involves a paid, in-depth training course that includes an exam at the end. If you pass the exam, voila: another line on your resume! Perhaps even better: companies often claim their certifications lead to promotions and raises. On that note, see what earning a Salesforce certification can do for you.

Industry Conferences

(Price tag: free and paid)

Industry conferences offer a fabulous, dedicated way to focus on learning and professional development. Yes, you usually have to pay travel expenses and maybe your conference pass, but then you’ll have your pick of targeted classes, panels, events, and networking opportunities. Take Salesforce’s annual conference for example: Dreamforce full-conference attendees often tell us the price tag is easily justified by the amount of learning they receive in exchange. However, if price is an issue, keep in mind that a lot of conferences these days offer a free limited-access pass and/or live stream many of the keynotes and popular sessions.

Why Every SMB Should Embrace eLearning

The business world is full of high expectations and increasing demands. To stay competitive, small businesses and their employees must keep pace with our changing technology — while also delivering 100% on the job. Fortunately today’s myriad online training opportunities can help you keep pace with hectic work schedules, broaden your skill sets, and make the ride more enjoyable. eLearning … Efficient, exciting, electric.

Training Session Photo via Shutterstock

Source: Small Business Trends