Building a small business is no small feat. According to the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, only about 50% of small businesses survive five years or longer. Beyond that, only about one in three make it to the 10-year mark.
Small businesses fail for a variety of reasons; a few reasons are more common than others. One of the biggest reasons building a small business so often ends in failure is that leadership never manages to pull together the right team.
Why is good help so hard to find?
Before we jump into our recommendations, we need to clarify the challenges facing small businesses looking to hire in a competitive talent market. We’ve previously discussed the importance of providing candidates with a positive interview experience in this fiercely competitive hiring cycle.
While it makes sense to think about how to compete with bigger businesses for top talent when building a small business, you will also want to look inward and consider whether the following obstacles could be holding you back:
- Leaders who are unable or unwilling to implement flexible and agile hiring procedures.
- A lack of clarity around the necessary skill sets for employees in key positions.
- A failure to meaningfully evaluate your existing employee base for rising talent.
- A lack of systems in place to keep crucial lines of internal communication open.
If you face any of these organizational challenges, addressing them is imperative to be successful as you implement the below tactical tips
So, let’s talk about how your small business can attract big talent.
1. Tap into your network
Once you’ve written your job description (yes, in most cases, you will need to write a new job description, rather than recycling an old one from a past search), share it directly with anyone you can think of. This includes current employees, who might have a good lead for you. Don’t just assume your network will see your posting on social media and share it. Take the extra step to ask for referrals.
2. Send top employees on “recruiting missions”
This could mean setting up a company table at local job fairs or sending employees to networking events where you know individuals in transition or individuals shopping for new opportunities might show up. When you’re looking to recruit top talent, you want to stay open to new ways to promote your brand and spread the word.
Getting in front of new audiences is especially important if you’ve had recent failed searches or your previous recruitment methods have fallen short. Don’t be afraid to run a postmortem when something goes wrong and take careful notes of what you learned during this session. This is very worthwhile when building or growing a small business.
3. Don’t forget about college job boards
Are you making use of the talent at local universities? When you systematically tap into the market of fresh college graduates, you gain access to a pool of new candidates who are hungry to learn about the industry and ready to prove themselves. Plus, hiring in this demographic brings new ideas and a new perspective to the table.
If you aren’t already on the list for internships with the career center on campus, make that your first priority. Summer is the right time to contact career counselors and get a read on what the best interns are looking for. Interns can be a great talent recruitment pipeline to loyal, full-time employees who need less training than the average new hire.
4. Focus on soft skills for building a small business
Often finding team members who are the right fit for your small business is about finding individuals who share your vision, rather than those with the relevant technical or hard skills. If you can find new hires who buy into your organization’s values and the culture you are working hard to cultivate, the potential for developing leaders from within the organization rises. It’s smart to think about deepening the bench and not just covering your technical bases.
5. Emphasize the advantages of working for a small business
Yes, big businesses can often woo candidates with big salaries and benefits. But getting hired by a small business has advantages too:
- Because small businesses are typically less bureaucratic, employees often enjoy closer relationships with leaders and other employees.
- In small businesses, employees often have more opportunities to broaden their skill sets than they would working for a large employer where departments expect workers to specialize more.
- Smaller companies can often offer candidates more work flexibility (e.g., the chance to work from home a few days each week) and the high potential for personal growth.
- Small businesses can frequently tailor a job deal to fit an employee’s individual needs (e.g., if an employee prefers to get into the office early so he or she can be home to meet the kids after school, they may be able to negotiate this as part of the deal).
- Many entrepreneurs treat employees as extended family.
Whether your small business is looking to make a great hire, brush up on leadership strategies, or implement succession planning, Potomac Recruiting has your back. Let our team relieve your biggest frustrations with building a small business. Contact us to discuss your talent needs!
The hiring market is competitive, indeed. But when you use the right tactics, you really can find the right fit for your organization.