Existing business training courses – what do small businesses want?
The biggest fear factor for small businesses is not always taking the plunge and getting going, it’s running a sustainable business that can last the distance. Not a day goes by when we don’t hear about businesses and big ones at that, going to the wall. Small businesses are finding that whilst there are many courses available to support them to launch their small business, there were not many mentoring based schemes or courses that offered post launch support. Those that did only covered the first few weeks.
If you think about it from a practical point of view, once you have decided to set up your business, you are so busy in the first few weeks with setting up your website, putting together your marketing, or honing your sales pitch and often that isn’t the time when a small business looks for support. That is the time when it’s all hands to the pump to get everything out of the door. In fact, in the first few weeks and early months when businesses are establishing, they are working so very hard on setting up, launching and selling to customers and clients. They rarely have time to pick up on issues, or they get pushed to the back of the queue as those first few sales are crucial, as is maintaining momentum.
Often it is in the later months, when they may think about making adjustments or discussing their progress, that they feel that they would benefit from support and expert advice.
We carried out a survey with 175 SMEs/start-ups in their first three years of trading, of those who had looked for training support, 83% of them stated that if they had attended a course, they didn’t have much support afterwards that they could tap into. They went on to say that if a training provider did deliver this, it was only available for a week or two after the course. They found that the type of support that they needed was often required several months, or even years down the line. These businesses reported that when they had looked around for post startup support, 63% said that it was very limited or costly (38%). The support groups that they could found, were either networking groups, with a peer-to-peer set up, which didn’t yield the right type of information or guidance that they were after.
Most results, seemed to point to mentoring schemes. However, securing a space on these schemes was very competitive, in particular getting accepted onto incubator schemes. Other businesses commented that where they had found mentoring support schemes, they had to pay for a membership to access this and in many cases the costs were too prohibitive for them to proceed.
Some small business owners also noted that they would be keen to receive more regular training in cross skills that would enable them to grow their skillset and help them as they wear many hats in their first few years’ of a business start up.
Knowing that many businesses struggle to stay afloat for 3 years minimum, the businesses that we spoke with commented that they also want support and advice on the common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to running a business, continual training opportunities and access to a mentoring service staffed by experienced entrepreneurs, to give them guidance when appropriate. Read more about how to set up an effective mentoring programme here.
So if you want to get ahead of the game, you need to be offering the support that they both need and want.
Get in contact with us today to see how Smarter Society can help you support your local businesses to become sustainable businesses of the future. Fill out our online form here to arrange for us to call you back.