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Train Employees on a Budget

By Jaimy Ford for America's Backbone Weekly

Providing ongoing skills-development for yourself and your employees is one of the surest ways to give your business – whether that is an insurance or graphic design firm – a competitive advantage. After all, like at most small businesses, you and your employees probably wear many hats. For example, your receptionist might also manage your social media accounts and update your website, while you likely handle everything from business planning to client relations.

Being able to beef up everyone's skills as needed can allow you to better market your services, increase your efficiency and productivity, lower costs, and reduce your dependency on freelancers and contractors. In addition, providing training to employees is one of the best ways to ensure their job satisfaction and increase retention.

All that said, when you are strapped for money and time, training is the first thing to go out the window. Luckily, you don't have to skimp on training anymore. Online resources make it possible for you to provide your employees with ongoing learning opportunities – all on a shoestring budget. Consider these popular options:

Offering more than 20,000 instantly available courses, OpenSesame has something for everyone. Courses start as low as a couple of dollars and cover every topic from negotiating skills to IT programming. Browse by categories, including compliance, industry-specific and technology to find courses that are most appropriate for your small business. The CourseCloud delivery feature allows you to purchase and take courses, as well as assign employees courses to take. You can then use your dashboard to monitor when employees begin, complete and pass the courses.

With a quick five-minute setup, Grovo allows you to blend its content with your own. Pick from 4,500 videos and assessments that cover 130 different areas of focus. Upload or manage PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, documents and videos, or create training within the platform. Grovo's reporting interface allows you to quickly assess your team's performance and offers customizable progress reports that are delivered to you via email. Pricing starts at $199 per user per year.

Partnering with top universities and organizations across the globe, Coursera offers more than 800 courses online for free to anyone, regardless of previous educational experience. In addition, users can earn Specialization certificates by taking several courses in a specific track. Specialization topics include Digital Marketing, Improving Business Finances and Operations and Content Strategy for Professionals in Organizations. Specialization classes start at $49 per class and tracks usually consist of five or six classes and a capstone course.

This online resource offers more than 20,000 on-demand courses, each taught by an expert. Courses range in subject matter and price range; for example, you can take "How to Make a Stunning Presentation in 10 Steps" for free or "How to Profit from Your Customers" for $499.

With the help of well-rounded, skilled employees, you can take your business to the next level. Providing them with plenty of training is your best bet for quickly increasing their knowledge and building their skills. With one of these popular online resources, you can now deliver that training without spending a whole lot of money.

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Jaimy Ford is a professional business writer withnearly a decade's worth of experience developing newsletters, blogs, e-letters,training tools and webinars for business professionals. She contributes to bothThe Intuit Small Business Blog and Docstoc.com. She also serves as editor-in-chief of SalesMastery, a digital magazine writtenspecifically for sales professionals.
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