Leadership in Small Business 101, Part 1: Hiring and Retaining the Best Employees

If you look closely at strong businesses around the country, you can find one thing in common: a strong leader. Without a strong leader, a business lacks the vision, the foresight, and the drive to grow into something extraordinary. Here at Mozy, we’ve seen businesses grow from small startups to huge enterprises, and they all had one thing in common: a strong leader.

In our Leadership in Small Business 101 series, we’re going to take a look at some of the skills and traits that great business leaders share, and then provide real world tactics you can use to lead your business to success.

Hiring the right talent

One of the traits strong leaders share is the ability to find the right people to work with. When you’re looking to grow your small business, it can be tempting to go with the less expensive employee. This can be a costly mistake.

Generally, the employees you find on the lower end of the pay spectrum have the least experience. While in some cases this is appropriate, such as entry-level positions, hiring someone with no experience to run something important like marketing, sales or finance is risky.

When you’re hiring, hire the best people you can afford. Start by reaching out to friends and associates (or current employees) for referrals. When you hire people through personal connects, you start building a company culture that keeps people around. According to Gallup.com, 74% of people use friends and family to hunt for jobs.

If you’re not having luck with your personal connections, post your job on LinkedIn, Monster.com, and other job boards. Cast your net wide and then start interviewing.

Getting the right talent to join your company takes more than just a nice paycheck. Employees want to know where the company is heading, and they want a  sense of purpose. Give them vision for where your company is heading. During the interview process, show them how they would be a part of that vision.

Don’t overpromise and underdeliver with future pay and benefits, or you’ll lose them down the road.

Building a strong culture

While there are a lot of gimmicks out there to build a strong company culture, the number one most important thing you can do is prove to your employees that you care about them. If you’re going to buy a pool table for your employees, make sure you let them use it. Other things to ensure about your employees:

   •     Make sure they’re taking breaks.
   •     Give them raises when you can.
   •     Tell your employees to take a vacation, and
   •     Make sure they’re not stressed about work they need to do while they’re there.

If you can show your employees you care, you’ll keep them around.

Being a strong leader is challenging but rewarding. If you can lead your company well, you will have all the tools you need to grow your business.

Next Wednesday: “Leadership in Small Business 101, Part 2: Creating Opportunities Through Management.”