Five Ways Small Businesses Can Win the Talent Race


Mere talent can be found almost anywhere, from local universities to employment agencies and an abundance of online recruiting websites. The sky is the limit when it comes to finding the average worker. Extraordinary talent, however, is a much more finite resource.

So, how do you find top talent? As a small business owner, you’re faced with an additional challenge, which is, once you find it, how do you hold onto it? After all, you might not have the available resources to lure extraordinary people away from the enterprise level organizations, who can pay top-dollar for top-talent. However, you can be creative, which is something the big guys sometimes struggle with.

Yes, the savvy small business owner can level the playing field and compete for top talent. Here are five practices we’ve already seen that work surprisingly well:

  1. Make the mission the motivator, not the money  – Any study that tells you that money doesn’t matter… is just not being completely forthright. Money does matter, but it’s not the only thing that matters. A lot of highly skilled people, particularly engineers and developers are more motivated by job satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Empower your talent with challenging tasks and missions that can make a real difference in the company and the audience it serves. By sharing your vision with these people, you give their work purpose, which can also provide them the fulfillment they value more than anything else in their careers.
  2. Provide creative perks – Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? That’s exactly what employees at Google get. Better yet, the company actually claims to recoup the cost of the free lunch with increased productivity from the employees not waiting in line for five minutes to pay for their lunches. It’s a win-win. By offering creative perks like free lunches, flexible hours, work-from-home opportunities, or appealing performance incentives, you create a unique environment that will attract talented individuals.
  3. Develop a strategic recruiting plan – In Jim Collins’ Good to Great, Collins introduces the principle that great companies follow of “getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”  Developing a strategic recruiting plan begins with identifying the organizational needs that will drive the company’s strategic objectives forward and position your company ahead of the competition.  Take the time to write accurate job descriptions because the talent needs to align with the requirements.  This helps to recognize the right fit when it manifests.
  4. Communicate clearly and effectively– As the leader of your organization, perhaps one of the most important bullet points of your job description is to communicate effectively. By clearly articulating your own set of expectations and the needs of the organization, you will enable truly talented individuals to feel a deeper connection with the company, and that bond is a very powerful retention tool.
  5. Create a training and development machine – The diamond in the rough can exist in any organization… and usually does. The only way you’ll find one in your company, however, is by creating a corporate culture that fosters continued growth. Top talent wants to grow with your company. Establish a top-notch training and development program that broadens your talent’s toolbox, equips them with industry-leading skills, and fuels intra-company promotion, and your diamonds will surely surface and emerge from the rough.

At Appleseed Consulting, we’ve seen many companies struggle to find and keep elite talent in their organizations. If this is you, it helps to know that you’re not alone. In fact, you’re actually a member of the overwhelming majority. The best news, however, is that we’ve partnered with several companies to implement these tactics, overcome their challenges, and foster an overall environment where top talent will not only want to join your organization but stay there for the long-run.

Feel free to leave a comment, post a question, or even give us a call to chat about it. Whatever way you want to communicate, we’d love to hear from you!