Tips for Training Employees at No Cost to Your Business

John Maxwell gave business owners the right idea when he taught us that our success depends on being surrounded by a team of people better at the tasks involved in our daily operations than we could ever be. Talented individuals willing to give it all they've got for the benefit of the business that nurtures them make an impact on the success of the company. The trouble is that in the beginning of a small business startup, cash flow availability to hire and train an employee can be a problem.

Eventually, the members of your staff will be "up stat" in their productivity, which means they are contributing their share to the company's financial goals, but their training costs money. After learning this lesson the hard way in my small business by paying a person for a couple of months who turned out not to be right for the position, I found three alternatives to paying cash out of my pocket up front for employee training time: subcontracting, student internships, and government training grants.


During the first six months of business ownership, my company was awarded a contract that required a sudden influx in productivity to deliver materials in a very short period of time. I had a problem to solve - there was no time to hire and train people to do the work. I was also concerned about what I would do with several new staff members when the contract with my client was completed.

I put ads on Craigslist under the "Gigs" section and selected a few promising individuals from the volume of responses I received. I had them all fill out 1099 tax forms. By developing a clear set of instructions with a template to follow, the "subcontractors," who were already experienced in the work, got everything done on time. I paid them for the products they delivered and nothing more.

Student Interns

Fortunately, there is a college in the vicinity of my business. After studying the programs it offered, I realized there was a body of students studying the very industry in which my business was based. I contacted the college and discovered it had an internship program to give students the chance to pick up practical skills in the field. The students worked at no cost to the employer while applying the theory they had learned in a real-life situation. I took on an intern two days a week for several months. He helped me accomplish an important business project until he graduated and was offered a full-time position in another state.

Job Training Grants

My greatest success came about through the job training grant program offered by Arizona Workforce Connection. This is a program that helps people laid off from their jobs get trained for new positions, making them employable in a new field. For a few weeks while they are in training, their wages are covered by the grant. Another advantage for me was that I was asked to provide a job description so the staff running the program could do the screening for the right person. The individual they hired for me was excellent and eventually became a permanent staff member in my company.

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