Report: How Can Small Businesses Find Big Talent?

In the US, entrepreneurship and opportunity go hand in hand. Not only do entrepreneurs get to be their own bosses, but they also create jobs for others. And there are countless stories of people who arrived on these shores with very little, only to acquire their own piece of the American dream by opening their own small businesses.

Of course, every corporate giant started out small, whether it was as three tech aficionados in a garage (Apple) or a farmer turned five-and-dime store owner (Walmart). But SMBs don’t have to become huge enterprises to make an impact. On the contrary, according to the US Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, SMBs account for 99.9% of US businesses and 33.4% of exports and are responsible for many millions of jobs.

Still, smaller companies face a challenge when it comes to competing with enterprises for candidates. Not only is it hard for SMBs to pay more for top talent, but their hiring managers are more likely to be wearing several hats, which can translate to less time and fewer resources to dedicate to attracting the right candidate.

Small may be beautiful, but it isn’t easy. We surveyed 1,000 small business owners in the US to find out about their biggest concerns in 2018 and how they’re addressing them. Here’s what we found.

More than half of SMBs find it tough to find the right employee

Let’s start with some good news: small business owners are seeing their businesses grow. Of all the respondents, 51% hired new team members last year, and more than one third (36%) expect to experience growth within the next twelve months.

But the majority of companies are also coming up against challenges in the face of this promising growth. As the labor market tightens, more than half (56%) of survey respondents report finding it somewhat difficult (39%) or very difficult (17%) to find the right employee for their businesses.

This isn’t a trend that’s showing any signs of easing up: 35% of respondents say it’s as difficult to find employees now as it was five years ago. And nearly a quarter (24%) say it’s even harder than it was a half a decade ago.

Only 17% of SMBs believe they have the advantage when it comes to attracting tech talent

It’s little wonder, then, that many SMB owners believe big companies have a leg up.

Which types of professionals do they find most challenging to hire? Job seekers with tech expertise seem to be the most difficult to find, with only 17% of owners stating that they believe SMBs are more attractive to tech professionals. Similarly, just 18% of respondents said the same about HR professionals, and 19% felt that way about marketing professionals.

That said, 36% of owners say they don’t believe there’s a difference or are unsure whether larger companies are more attractive to tech professionals. And while there are other SMB optimists, the majority believe enterprises have the advantage across all types of roles.  

It’s tough to compete when it comes to salary, benefits and opportunities for growth.

56% of SMBs struggle to find candidates with leadership skills

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