How to Implement L&D for a Startup – on a Budget

How to Implement L&D for a Startup – on a Budget

Let’s be honest – it’s not been an easy ride for startups over the past few years. The bruised economy has led to many startups struggling to find investment. However, both working at and running a startup was never supposed to be easy. That’s why they’re the perfect places for employees to develop and grow – they’re packed with exciting challenges! At Framework, we firmly believe that learning and development (L&D) are crucial to any successful startup, even those with limited resources. They not only provide workers with a more enriching work life, but they also assist in their professional development. Throughout this article, we’ll explain how to set up L&D for a startup on a shoestring budget.

1. Identifying the learning needs of employees

First things first, before any startup begins its rollout of L&D, it’s crucial to identify what type of L&D will be most beneficial to the team. This is no mean task and often requires deep diving into the wide variety of available options. However, if you’re on a budget, doing this initial research and identification can be invaluable. There are a variety of steps that organizations can take to determine what employees need to learn in order to succeed in their roles.

Talk to your employees

It sounds simple, but this action should be utilized more often in the fast-paced world of startups. Talking honestly and frankly with all of your employees about their desires for learning and development will be genuinely enlightening. Always make sure to encourage a sense of transparency and openness to get the most out of these discussions. 

Create a feedback space

While one-on-one discussions are always helpful, sometimes group feedback might be the way to go. Ask your employees to write down areas where they would like to enhance their skill sets and discuss them in a scheduled meeting. This style of open discussion, with preparation, will be insightful, while also ensuring your employees play a part in their own development.

Accept compromise

When you’re on a budget, not every employee will have all their learning needs covered straight away. The best way around this is to make a broader decision on L&D topics to the benefit of the majority of your employees. Zooming out and taking a holistic look at the startup will help you make an informed decision on the best way forward with L&D. You may not satisfy everybody, but you’ll have those key, essential areas covered.

2. Utilizing free resources

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, there’s no end to the number of free resources that are available to you in the learning and development space. These can take a variety of forms, including online courses, webinars and tutorials. Leveraging these can help startups provide indispensable learning opportunities, even when you are strapped for cash. Here are some of the best ones from our own experience:

Startup Stash

Startup Stash is the go-to place for entrepreneurs looking to streamline and level up their employee practices, including within L&D. With a huge directory full of tools and other resources, it’s worth making the most of this fantastic platform. There’s a reason why Startup Stash is used by hundreds of startups across the world.


Filled to the brim with information on learning and development, ATD is a site that is aimed at empowering the development of talent in the workplace. The site has a resources section, as well as a variety of guides, that could come in handy when designing your L&D pathway. The cherry on top is the free webinars, which are always an invaluable resource for you and your team.

The Training Journal (TJ)

TJ is another site packed full of free resources that could be the difference maker in your L&D strategy. TJ's resources section is also full of free webinars, as well as insightful guides and blogs for managers looking to push their employees to the next level. Make sure to take a deep look at their lengthy back catalog.

YouTube Learning

While some say it can be an enemy of concentration, never forget that YouTube is your best friend when it comes to free L&D resources. YouTube Learning was specifically designed for a huge variety of purposes in all areas, but they have a significant amount of free webinars collected to help businesses and employees. Spending a little time browsing through could help you and your team gain vital information and insights. 

3. Using in-house experts

While it’s natural to look outwards when searching for ways to improve and enhance your L&D processes, sometimes the answers are right under your nose. In fact, your own employees can be a vital and affordable resource for employing a successful L&D strategy. Here are a few ways you can make the most of this often untapped resource:

Internal training sessions

Putting some time aside to conduct internal training sessions centered around specific topics each week is one of the optimum ways to enhance L&D. To encourage discussion and ensure everybody feels involved, ask a different team member each week to create an active session on their specialist skills. Not only will this be beneficial from an L&D point of view, but it can also be heaps of fun and improve team morale.

A mentorship program

With experience comes wisdom. Depending on how large your startup is, mentorship programs are a great way to utilize that knowledge. Teaming up those who would benefit from learning directly from more experienced members of your team will provide an obvious advantage to those new to the business or industry. These meetings can be looser and don’t have to take place in a formal space such as the office.

Not only will your own in-house experts be, potentially, just as knowledgeable as anybody else, but utilizing their talent will be a lot more financially viable too. A no-brainer if ever there was one.

4. Partnering with other organizations

Collaborations and partnerships can go a long way in the world of business. In fact, these partnerships, especially educational institutions, can supply employees with access to additional learning opportunities at a reduced cost. Here are some key pillars to stick to when partnering up with other organizations:

🎯 Establish a certainty that the relationship will be useful with specific objectives in mind

👥 Don’t compromise on quality for the sake of a collaboration

❓ Always ask employees for their views before making a connection

☝️ Prioritize learning opportunities that can’t be gained from in-house experts

How does a startup go about creating this kind of collaboration at a lower cost? Networking can be the dealbreaker. Nailing that first connection is crucial and could make all the difference. Depending on your business, it may also be advantageous to provide an organization with your services, in exchange for L&D and educational resources.

Additionally, if you have clients, discussing your services with them can be a form of L&D for the whole business. We suggest creating a feedback form to send to clients (especially those who are no longer working with you) asking for an honest critique of your offerings. Team discussions can then be arranged to talk them through, with clear points of learning created for the future.

5. Encouraging self-directed learning

Self-directed learning is the icing on the cake when combined with all of the above. Encouraging employees to conduct their own proactive learning is beneficial not only for the business but their own personal and professional development too. There are hundreds of ways employees can learn and develop their skills and knowledge independently, so long as they have the space, time and guidance in place to do it. This falls on superiors to ensure that this space is there for them, but how can startups cultivate this environment? That’s easy: Framework

What is Framework?

The Framework app has been specifically designed for this very purpose, allowing employees to access and consume education related to the business without taking up too much time. 

Three literacies are covered within the app: Human, Business and Tech. These resources aren’t just suitable for startups, they were intentionally created with startups in mind and feature quick-to-consume, swipeable cards full of golden nuggets of wisdom. The app reconciles the challenges and queries that thousands of startup operators encounter on a daily basis, optimizing the time necessary to learn, without compromising on depth. 

Interested? Jump on that waiting list and learn more on our website!


To round up this article, we’ll give you one last piece of advice: no matter the financial situation your startup is facing, never compromise on L&D. Ever. 

Alongside your employees themselves, it’s the lifeblood of any consistently improving small company without necessarily becoming a big expense. The pathway to success can be rocky and is never guaranteed, but a rigorous L&D strategy can be the difference for both you and your employees.

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