If you’re a small business or startup, I’m sure it has crossed your mind that you don’t have anything to offer top talent, which is very untrue. Sure, you likely don’t have the budget to offer a cushy salary and amazing insurance. But what if I told you that you have several key benefits to offer that corporations and big businesses simply can’t? Your business can likely personalize or change what is offered very quickly, which is something a larger business can’t do. The next time you are trying to recruit the perfect talent, mention a few of these that fit your business. You will be surprised with how much future employees will be sold on working with you, even for less of an upfront paycheck. Meanwhile, existing employees will remain loyal because they notice these aspects of their work in action regularly.
- As hinted to, smaller companies have a much smaller chain of command, and often treat each other similar to a family. Sure, there’s always going to be a little drama, but when you know everyone you work with intimately, you take care of each other. Sue in accounting can ask Jessica the receptionist how the doctor appointment she was worried about went, while Jerry the owner can announce new insurance offered right after he signs the papers from the agent. They personally know their coworkers, which translates to better morale and a much more collaborative environment. In the same way, there are usually fewer bosses and a flatter organizational chart overall, making employees feel empowered to make their own decisions without a lengthy approval process. New ideas simply move a lot quicker in smaller businesses without having to pass them through committees and approvals. In fact, smaller businesses tend to encourage new ideas from their employees, which is a huge selling point to top talent and those looking for career growth.
- To piggyback off the last point, employees of smaller businesses are often asked to try new ideas and give feedback. They have both the ability to share opinions that matter, as well as the ability to take some creative risk. They often have the ability to even change how their own job is done, if they can show it is more efficient, which is big time empowerment to your people. Moreover, owners or management often make decisions with actual employees in mind, and not just the bottom line. Your existing employees will know this about where they work, and give you large loyalty payouts, a big deal in smaller businesses. Overall, smaller businesses are much more flexible, with not nearly as strict guidelines as their corporate counterparts, while each situation is taken into account individually instead of passed over or forgotten in the mass.
- Smaller businesses always offer a bigger potential for professional growth, as well as a larger breadth of job. This creates transferable skills in employee’s core functions that, if they do ever move on (or are promoted within your business) translates to a fuller resume for them. They can significantly and very quickly boost their personal skill set, since they will likely need to be versatile and wear several hats during their time with your business. They will typically stay longer as their resume plumps up, and likely hope a higher level spot opens up that they can qualify for to learn even more. In fact, promotions are more accessible to smaller business employees, which many value. Regardless, smaller businesses offer great potential for employment fluidity, as people are able to move around to fill needs more often as they’re noticed easier.
- Perhaps one of the biggest benefits a small or even mid-sized business has to offer is the fact that employees can see they have the ability to make a difference, and are irreplacable within the business. This is simply not true for large businesses or corporate employees. Small business employees often have a part in decision making processes, or they are at least asked for input. They have the ability to work closely with senior leaders, and departments are more interconnected. This allows for better internal communication, and it is much easier for employees to see their role within the core of the business they do their work for. This also gives the opportunity for better and personalized referrals in the future from working so closely with management, which is coveted by employees if the time comes. Growth in the business is very exciting, and they can often see how they are directly responsible for at least a portion of the success. This usually allows for easier recognition because their impact is so noticeable.
- Jobs are much more challenging and varied in smaller businesses, they simply have to be. Employees see new opportunities for growth and non-repetitive work. Instead of being a vague piece of a 1,000 piece puzzle, they are a detailed piece in a 25 piece puzzle. They have the opportunity to explore and find new strengths and abilities they may not have known they had. For example, growing up I had always known I wanted to teach high school history, and started college for it. It was while working for a small bookkeeping business when I was about 22 years old, that I discovered my passion for the inner workings of business, and loved the research it took to figure out how to find great employees and keep them for the small businesses I wrote payroll checks for. I ended up switching both my major and the college I attended, to fulfill this passion. I have known several people of all ages find out they had hidden talents or passions because of some random project they “got stuck with” while working in a small business. Employees have to do a little of everything, and they learn a lot about themselves in the process, guaranteed, and they receive invaluable work experience and discovery.
I hope these help you feel more confident in what you have to offer great talent when you find it. In my opinion, small, mid-sized, and start-up businesses are in a very unique position to quickly personalize to not only business needs, but the needs of their people. Often, these environments speak more to employees than massive paychecks. Don’t get me wrong, pay your people fairly. However, smaller businesses are able to meet the core needs of humanity – acceptance, support, and friendship – that larger businesses simply cannot match. Don’t sell your business short, and instead use your little business as a selling point! Notice what your employees need and work with their strengths, and they’ll notice your business is one to be loyal to. Have you heard employees remark about why they love or don’t like their workspace? If you have additional insight in how to recruit and retain top talent in our small businesses, please leave a comment!