While all of those and more are critical for small businesses to find success in a hyper-competitive marketplace, what may be the most important differentiator between a great small business and one that is just getting by is the quality of its employees.
It makes sense: How can you have great products without talented people designing, building and marketing them? How can you provide industry-leading customer service without the best representatives handling your client interactions?
Without great employees, a small business is likely to struggle against its small, mid-sized and enterprise-level competitors. It's no surprise, then, that the majority of Canada's small business owners believe that hiring great employees will be their biggest challenge in 2015.
Canadian small business owners will put an extra emphasis on hiring this year
Sourcing, recruiting and hiring the best possible candidates will be the toughest challenge for small businesses throughout the country this year, Graham Scott of Canadian Business reported based on data from a survey of 800 small businesses across Canada done on behalf of Sage, a business software company.
The results of this year's survey paints a much different picture than when the same survey was taken last year. Last year, small businesses said that hiring great employees was their sixth-highest rated challenge.
Demographic changes could be at the heart of this change in attitudes. As Baby Boomers retire in considerable numbers every year, the need for businesses to fill the open positions they leave behind grows in step. While it's always possible that other factors are at work, the results of the survey could be pointing to the fact that the departure of veteran workers could be starting to affect the job market.
How small businesses can increase their attractiveness to great candidates
As a small business, you don't want to fall behind the competition. Here are some tips to help you attract great candidates to your small business.
• Write great job ads. You want quality candidates, not just quantity. Write a job ad that makes you stand out from the competition by highlighting what makes your business a unique place to work, according to an article from the Canadian Federation of Small Business. A great team, flexible hours, innovative culture - all of these things are powerful ways to attract candidates.
• Allow employees to take control of their schedule. This won't work for every business, but more and more job seekers are looking for a company that will let them telecommute and set their own hours, Murad Hammadi of Canadian Business wrote. In fact, 70 percent of millennials prefer telecommuting over coming into the office. This could be a great way to entice the next generation of employees to choose you over another business.
• Turn your current employees into evangelists. Have your existing team members promote any job openings on their personal social media pages or within their own networks, ProfitGuide suggested. This accomplishes three things at once: It gets your team more invested in your business, allows potential hires to hear how great your business is and helps you find people you know will have the right skill set and cultural fit.
• Show them how they'll make a difference. When there's just a few employees in a business, each one counts. Pitch your business as a place where a talented, creative employee can come in and have an impact. If you can show them how they'll be more than just another number, you'll have the edge over your competitors who favor quantity over quality.