When you first establish a business, the chances are you’ll be working either on your own or as part of a small, close-knit team. In most cases, it simply isn’t feasible for new companies to have large teams of employees from the outset – the business needs to be generating revenue and turning over a profit before it can start hiring in earnest.
But when you’re trying to grow a business with a small team, there are only so many man-hours in the week and only so much everyone can give. With so much to do – in terms of product and service development, sales and marketing, administration, finance, IT and customer service – there comes a point where a shortage of staff hold the business back.
In order for a startup to progress and develop into a larger, more established business, it needs additional talent. Human capital can be the difference between a company that puts down roots and claims market share from its rivals and one that simply fades away. At some point, companies need new ideas, skills and energy to push them on to the next level.
Knowing when – and how to hire – is all-important. If a company waits too long to increase the size of its team and bring in additional expertise, it may miss out on commercial opportunities. But if it brings people onboard too early, the business may end up with an unsustainable cost base which cannot be justified by the revenues it generates. Employers need to assess the state of the market and use their instincts.
Expanding your business
The economic recovery witnessed in the UK over the past few years has encouraged many people to start up businesses, take on staff and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. The bounce-back following the recession and ensuing economic downturn has also encouraged existing businesses to increase the range and breadth of their activities, something which has required additional staff members.
Employers know that if they can attract talent to their companies, they can potentially develop new market-leading solutions, boost productivity and become leaner, more efficient organisations. Everyone is competing for the top staff – those with niche skills and the ability to make a tangible difference to the enterprise they work for. Naturally, this means the recruitment market is highly competitive and businesses need to effectively sell their companies – and their vision for the future – to the people they want to bring on board.
Traditionally, the majority of the most talented professionals have sought employment with the largest companies – those with global scale and the ability to pay the top salaries. This creates a challenge for small businesses which are in need of skilled individuals to take them to the next level. However, if such companies can communicate the benefits of working for a startup or SME – and there are many of them – they can still recruit the top talent.
Here are some of the potential selling points small business employers can focus on:
Employees who work for small businesses have an opportunity to get involved on the cutting edge from the very outset. If they have specialist skills and the enthusiasm to get involved, they can take on a range of key duties and responsibilities at an early stage. Rather than simply serving as a ‘worker bee’, employees can have a real influence on strategy and day-to-day operations.
In a small business setting, everybody needs to muck in. It means no two days are ever likely to be the same, as new tasks emerge all the time. Employees may have a core area of responsibility, based upon their core skills, but in practice, their brief can be quite wide-ranging. This provides a significant opportunity for learning and professional development.
Workplace culture and environment
Another benefit of working for a small business is that the environment is likely to be friendlier, more relaxed and less corporate. Many small companies have fantastic team spirit, with everyone eager to help their colleagues out. This stems from a sense of being the underdog, competing against much larger and better-resourced companies.
Freedom of expression
Employees who work for small businesses are often given the freedom to innovate and follow their creative instincts. After all, this is how such companies can challenge their rivals and claim market share. For professionals who are interested in design, research and development, the small business environment may be ideal.
A more flexible career
Most small businesses struggle to match the salaries and benefits on offer at larger organisations, so they need to be more creative. Typically, small company employees are able to take advantage of remote and flexible working opportunities, which may allow them to achieve a greater work/life balance and do the other things they enjoy. For professionals with young children or other hobbies and interests, working for a small company may be preferable to being employed by a more rigid, corporate firm.