If you’re a small business owner you’re in good company. Recent (US) data from the Small Business Administration shows some impressive results. Small businesses:
- Account for 99.7% of all firms that hire new employees
- Employ over half of all employees in the private sector
- Contribute 44% of total private sector payroll
- Obtain 13 times more patents per employee than larger-size firms.
But if smaller businesses have so much to offer, why can it be so hard attracting top talent?
SMEs have plenty to offer the A-players. You just need to get the pitch right. Here are 7 common benefits to help attract the top talent to your small-business team:
1. Lack of bureaucracy
Smaller businesses are usually characterised by the owner playing a major role in day-to-day operations. This instills a sense of collegiality and minimises bureaucracy so tasks get accomplished more quickly. You just want to be sure not to tip the scale into micromanagement and smother initiative. Top talent tends to be self-motivating and can usually be counted on to complete work in a timely manner; that’s how they became top talent in the first place!
2. High levels of transparency
Because small businesses don’t have layers of hierarchy there’s a much greater degree of transparency than with most larger companies. Your firm can instill a democratic leadership style with problem areas discussed openly. Valuable staff can be viewed as strategic partners in the effort to build a strong and profitable company.
3. Accelerated career progression
As a small business your employees will likely be given the opportunity to assume diverse and challenging responsibilities and, as your company grows, be promoted into senior level positions on a more accelerated schedule than might be possible with large firms. Top talent recognises that their professional development opportunities may be greater when working for a small company.
4. Pragmatic professional development
Those firms that spend time on the professional development of staff see a large return-on-investment in terms of staff retention and productivity. According to Steven Trattner, Cinergy Health’s Chief Marketing Officer, as compared with larger firms, training can be informal in a smaller company. It can take place while sharing a pizza lunch in the office as you discuss how to handle a new project or negotiate with a difficult prospect. While training is certainly a teachable moment is also serves to bond you, as owner, with your staff by highlighting a team culture and common mission.
5. Ownership of outcomes
The work effort of larger firms tends to be compartmentalised, with different departments assuming different aspects of a given project. In contrast, working for a smaller company allows your employees to take full ownership of the effort and see the project through from start to finish.
6. Freedom to innovate
While both small and large companies may value innovation and creativity, smaller-size firms are able to have a bit more freedom in exploring new ways of doing business than is the case with larger firms who have a board and shareholders keeping an eye on profits. This partially explains the greater number of new patent applications emanating from smaller firms than larger. Where many large corporates can get bogged down in process, most SMEs are more agile and can quickly capitalise on change.
7. Flexible working arrangements
Smaller firms offer a great degree of “work-life” balance. A May 2011 report issued by Portfolio.com points to the fact that smaller firms are able to offer their employees more flexibility with regard to schedule with the option to telecommute at least part of the time or have time off to attend to family responsibilities, such as child or elder care.
How do you pitch your small-business environment to potential employees? Make sure you’re giving yourself the best shot to attract the best talent.