The early days of a small business may be filled with a mix of excitement and chaos. For many people with the entrepreneurial spirit and drive, the freedom of owning a business can be a thrilling experience. And the whirlwind of activity and responsibility can feel overwhelming.
This is why having a strong support team is so vital for new small business owners. Hiring may be among the biggest challenges they face — not just at the starting line, but throughout a business’ existence — and finding the right people is a crucial part of future success.
The importance of hiring has inspired notable quotes from big names in business. A few examples:
Bill Gates: “The key for us, number one, has always been hiring very smart people.”
Steve Jobs: “The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.”
Lee Iacocca: “I hire people brighter than me, and I get out of their way.”
Here’s a look at how new owners can approach hiring, to ensure they are properly investing in people as a small business gets off the ground.
Make a strong job posting and job description
The words used when seeking employees can matter a great deal. Before a small business owner meets a potential employee, some level of interest should already be established by how the position is described in a job posting. In a story for The Huffington Post, Jason Whitman advises to “grab job seekers’ attention by being open, honest and forthcoming about what your business stands for.”
“The Internet is an advantage for businesses looking to hire, as it puts them in front of millions of job seekers — but in order to gain their interest in your open position, it’s important to stand out by communicating your businesses’ mission,” he explains. “Online hiring is a competitive exercise and an SMB needs to stand out. This also guarantees that those that are applying are interested in what your business stands for, which makes them a great candidate for your company!”
The job description will go into greater detail as to what duties will be included and the overall scope of the position, including time requirements and physical exertion standards. Employers will need to ensure that the description is complete, and that any necessary qualifications are included. In a story for The Balance, Susan M. Heathfield describes the importance of accurate job descriptions.
“Whether you’re a small business or a large, multi-site organization, well-written employee job descriptions will help you align employee direction with the direction of your senior leadership,” she says. “Alignment of the people you employ with your goals, vision, and mission spells success for your organization. As a leader, you assure the inter-functioning of all of the different positions and roles needed to get the job done for the customer.”
Focus on culture
Starting a staff from scratch can be an exciting prospect. A new small business owner may have learned from previous jobs what kind of culture he or she wants to establish, and use the lessons learned to find the right people. Shannon Gausepohl explored cultural fit in a story for Business News Daily.
“Imagine a company founder who believes that an open office plan and team projects promote creativity and progress, but whose employees are overwhelming introverts,” Gausepohl says. “Or think about the ambitious employee stuck in an organization that offers no training, tuition reimbursement or room for advancement. At its core, cultural fit means that employees’ beliefs and behaviors are in alignment with their employer’s core values and company culture.”
Mark Babbit, founder of internship-assistance firm YouTern, is featured in Gausepohl’s story: “Employers simply can’t take a chance on someone who won’t mesh well with the existing team, doesn’t share common goals with their colleagues, and are not aligned with the mission of the company.”
Look for passion
Given the responsibility level and the leadership required to start a business, it may be a challenge for an owner to identify people who are equally and instantly as passionate. But that drive can be contagious, and passion for the work itself can be revealed during the interview process. It’s a trait that can play an enormous role in helping a new business grow, because employees who care will likely make the necessary efforts. Andrew Schrage writes about this in a Young Entrepreneurs Council story for Forbes.
“Skills and talent are important, but you must also take into account whether candidates are passionate about going to work for you,” he notes. “Did they do pre-interview research to inform themselves about your organization? Are they enthusiastic during the interview? Do they illustrate their talents and passion with stories of previous experience? It’s answers to these types of questions that can help evaluate whether or not potential employees really want to work for your company, or are simply looking for any old job.”
Shake up the interview process
The employee search doesn’t necessarily have to follow the traditional interview format. Some businesses may develop additional creative ways to gauge the talent level of prospective employees by aiming for an assignment element in the hiring process. In a story for Fundbox, Justin Reynolds imagines a “small digital agency that helps companies with their content marketing initiatives” that is in need of a graphic designer.
“Rather than going through the traditional time-consuming interview process with several candidates, consider asking them to complete an assignment instead,” he says. “Send them data and instructions to see what they come up with. You need employees who can do what’s stated on their resume — and more! Taking this approach gives you a sneak preview of what you could expect if you hired each applicant.”
Pay and benefits
It’s no secret that compensation ranks at the top of the priority list for most people. All the job satisfaction in the world won’t mean much without some degree of financial security. As small business owners put their teams together, they will need to keep competitive financial packages in mind. As Reynolds writes, “Don’t be stingy with compensation and benefits.”
“The best and brightest know that their talents are in high demand, so they’ll sniff out the best offers,” he explains. “If your business isn’t prepared to invest in your employees, you’ll have a hard time luring the hardest and most creative workers. Be generous within reason, and you shouldn’t have a problem.”