Business training programmes are aimed at developing entrepreneurs’ skills to help them better manage their businesses and set them on a path to greater business success.
Traditionally, business training has been provided in classroom settings and focused on teaching management, financial and marketing skills and practices. Such programmes haven’t always met expectations, so new approaches, including a focus on developing entrepreneurs’ soft skills, decision-making abilities and use of alternative management models, have been gaining popularity.
We’ve reviewed 13 experimental studies that look at non-traditional business training programmes. Here’s what we’ve learned and some ideas worth trying!
Offering intensive in-class mindset-oriented training can help business owners to develop psychological traits associated with entrepreneurial success, like self-efficacy and personal initiative. Such training can lead to persistent improvements in business performance when accompanied by a few on-site follow-up sessions by the trainer.
A two-hour module on social skills for networking can help micro-entrepreneurs to improve interpersonal interactions and business performance as a result. Alternatively, a one-day session focusing on social skills and customer care doesn’t seem to lead to any positive effects.
Training entrepreneurs on how to make decisions following a scientific approach – establishing hypotheses and testing them – can help nascent entrepreneurs to accelerate the ideas exploration process and established businesses to improve their performance.
Should I train manufacturing business managers on continuous improvement strategies around production and quality control?
Offering intensive in-class training on continuous improvement strategies – like the Kaizen approach to production management and quality control – doesn’t seem to help manufacturing firms to be more efficient. However, it can lead to efficiency improvements when targeted at light industry firms and complemented with follow-up consulting sessions.
Evidence-informed ideas for designing business training programmes
Ideas worth trying
At A policy level
- If you’re interested in accelerating nascent entrepreneurs’ process of discarding unprofitable business ideas or pivoting to better ones, give thought to training them on how to use a scientific approach to decision-making.
on a programme
- If you’re running a training programme for business managers, consider including a module on social skills for networking.
- If you’re running a training programme for small business owners, consider dedicating all or part of it to developing the participants’ entrepreneurial mindset.
- If you’re offering mindset-oriented training, consider adding a few on-site follow-up visits by the trainer during the following months to answer questions and assist business owners in implementing the concepts covered in class.
- When designing a mindset-oriented training programme, take into consideration that women and men are likely to experience different psychological barriers to successful entrepreneurship.
- If you’re running a training programme for established microbusinesses that need to make important business decisions under uncertainty, consider including specific content on how to use a scientific approach to decision-making.
- If you’re offering a training programme to light manufacturing firms, try including basic Kaizen concepts in the in-class training and complementing it with one-on-one Kaizen-based consulting sessions.
What to avoid
At A policy level
- If aiming for long-term improvements in business performance, avoid limiting mindset-oriented training to a few weeks of in-class sessions.
- Avoid offering intensive in-class training on Kaizen to firms in heavy industries, as they most likely don’t have the flexibility to easily introduce changes in their production processes and plant layouts on a continuous basis.
- Avoid expecting scientific approach training for nascent entrepreneurs to impact their probability of seeing revenues within a few months.
On a programme
- Avoid limiting social skills training to customer care interactions.
What more should we learn?
We would like to see many more experiments happening in the field of business training. Testing more policies, programmes and approaches to delivering business training would enrich the body of robust evidence that exists today.