There’s nothing that makes a business more successful than its people. When a business owner has a team they can count on, they have all the confidence in the world and it shows. But when we don’t have the talent we need, when we aren’t confident in our team, we start holding on to things we should be delegating. And soon we become overwhelmed.
How do you attract that talent? Small businesses typically can’t offer a huge salary and the big company benefits beat out every time. How do you find those smart, ambitious team members without those resources?
Show them how they can make an impact working for you.
The biggest thing that you have to offer to team members is the opportunity to make an impact. In a small business every employee is a front-line employee. For action oriented, high-achieving people, being able to see the results of their work every day is really attractive.
Which is another reason is it important that you have a mission or purpose for your business that goes beyond making money. Don’t just recruit folks to a job, give them a mission!
Just like high performers strive to make a direct impact, they are attracted to challenges. This is a big job with real obstacles, are you up for it? If you pitch the job like that and someone is excited to join — they are going to be a winner. If they aren’t, well, they weren’t going to last anyway, right?
Be a mentor.
To get great talent you might have to take a chance on someone less experienced; someone who shows promise, but may not have the full background/track record you initially thought you had to have. To do that you need to be prepared to be a mentor and show the ropes. They are not going to know everything that you know and that’s ok. But if you can build in some time to train, develop, and mentor, then you will foster buy-in. Not only to your business, but to you as a mentor.
Autonomy/Flexibility (spoiler: this is a big one!).
Large organizations can sometimes run into roadblocks when implementing flexible work policies for their entire employee base. It can be hard to manage! But as a small business, offering employees autonomy and flexibility is often easier, plus it’s a great way to stand out against your bigger competitors.
Your small business can empower employees by actively supporting work-life balance, such as remote work, flexible work days or unlimited PTO (we have some ideas to manage this newer theory of thought), which prioritizes the employee’s needs and illustrates your trust in their judgment and ability to manage themselves. Showing your employees that you trust them cultivates a sense of autonomy and responsibility among your team and can actually help improve efficiencies within your business (bonus!).
BUT….offering too much flexibility too soon can have the opposite effect. Many small business owners went out on their own partly for the flexibility that it can offer and afford them. Many potential employees want the exact same thing. The balancing act here is that flexibility can also attract folks who just want to get out of work. It has proven to be most effective to offer flexibility (which in turn offers autonomy) to team members once they’ve demonstrated a track record of productivity and effectiveness. Too much up front communicates a lack of accountability. The key is to set expectations and hold people accountable.
Finding (plus retaining) top talent generally doesn’t happen overnight. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day! But it also doesn’t happen in less than a week after posting the job. Speed isn’t the goal for finding the best. The real trick for finding and retaining talent is having intention. Consider your vision and mission statements (remember above about making an impact?) and how your job description(s) reflect your culture and goals. If there’s no immediate fit, regroup and re-strategize.
Make it a point to hire slowly and with intention. You’re in it for the long run with your small business and the talent you hire should be on the same page.