The FSB research Lifting the Barriers to Growth in UK Small Businesses surveyed over 18,000 small businesses on a wide variety of issues. It showed that 73% of firms that increased turnover considerably in the last year had offered some form of training, while companies with little or no training generally saw a fall in revenue.
Melanie Ottens of the FSB points out that there are many options for a company looking for training opportunities. Organisations such as the government-funded learndirect offer courses especially designed for small businesses, but Ottens also suggests investigating what local colleges, universities and private providers offer as different firms will benefit from different types of training.
However, while the survey showed staff training to be popular, there was also evidence that owner-managers did not see the benefits of management training. Only 1.5% of respondents took part in such courses in the last year. But significantly, owner-managers’ confidence in their own management skills appears to fall the longer they are in business.
Ottens says that in the first “three-to-five years” of a business, owner-managers “don’t necessarily think about managing people,” even though she considers it “an integral part” of running a small business.
Time and cost is a factor in neglecting management training, but Ottens would advise small businesses to contact the Government-run advice service Business Link as a source of information on “relatively cheap training.” She also recommends checking out the Work Foundation, an organisation that describes itself as “part research institute, part business consultancy, part advocate” for “the modern workplace.”
Details of the FSB survey are available from www.fsb.org.uk. Small businesses interested in staff training should visit learndirect.com, while those looking into management training can find information on www.theworkfoundation.com