Smarter Staffing: Tackle Your Small Business Staffing Challenges
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Smarter Staffing: Tackle Your Small Business Staffing Challenges

Hiring can be challenging. Experts share how to identify your small business staffing challenges and find creative solutions.


Hiring can be a tough job for your business. Whether you’re hiring full-time employees or contractors, it can be challenging to make the right decisions in the early stages of company growth. The question is: how do you prevent mistakes in the first place? In this webinar, experts share how you can pinpoint your small business staffing challenges and find creative solutions for addressing them. Hear from experienced business owners and HR experts Melissa Villanueva and Joy M. Hutton.


Meet The Experts

Melissa Villanueva is the CEO, Owner, and Founder of Brewpoint Coffee, a multi-million dollar coffee company with four coffee shops, a coffee roastery, and a premiere event space. Melissa’s innovative approach to running a successful small business has been featured on Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and many other leading publications.

Joy M. Hutton is the Founder of Joy of Consulting, a management consulting firm and on the go GLAM™, an on demand platform that delivers beauty services to men and women in the comfort of their home, office, or hotel. Joy serves on a number of small business councils and works with organizations that develop female entrepreneurs. Joy was honored by the City of Houston for her leadership in entrepreneurship. February 4, 2020 was named “Joy M. Hutton” Day. In honor of this day, she launched the LeadHERship Fund, a micro grant fund for female entrepreneurs.


Small Business Staffing

When you first start your business, you often do it all yourself from packing orders to marketing. But eventually, as you reach more and more of your business goals, you are going to need help and that means hiring. At nearly every stage of growth, you will probably need to increase your small business staffing. New location? New staff. New product line? New staff. Hiring new staff can help you reach your business goals, but it can also be expensive and time consuming, so how do you keep up?

Keep in mind that you don’t have to hire full time employees for every single position. Keep it simple at first.

  • Consider working with independent contractors for your professional service needs like bookkeeping or social media management.
  • Hiring paid interns can be a win-win for both you and the intern, who would gain valuable experience.
  • Part-time employees are a great way to slowly grow your staff as your need increases.

Ask for help when you need it. Don’t wait until the situation is urgent. As much as possible, take your time and make the right hire for your business.

Who should you hire first?

Once you recognize that you need help, it can still be difficult to know where to start. Joy recommends making a D-D-D list to help you prioritize your staffing needs

  • Do: Make a list of all the things you have to do.
  • Dump: Mark all the things on your “Do” list that you don’t want to do, you don’t have the capacity to do, or you aren’t great at doing.
  • Delegate: Based on your “Dump list” Determine what groups of tasks need help with and what kind of role(s) you delegate those tasks to.

Your D-D-D list tells you who you should hire first and helps you to prioritize hiring for roles that would have the largest impact on you and your business.

How to hire on a budget?

Joy’s number one piece of advice for hiring on a budget is to prioritize staff who will have the greatest impact on your business. Consider hiring contactors, paid interns, or part-time workers to start. Build partnerships with local schools, universities, or job-matching organizations to find subsidized internships that are partially paid by other organizations. Melissa has had great luck with university job boards and internship programs. Joy often works with cosmetology schools to find well trained employees in need of work experience for her beauty business.

Automate and standardize your hiring and onboarding systems as much as possible. Using inexpensive HR and employment tools might take time to set up in the first place, but once set up, they will save you time and money in the long run. Melissa likes Trainual and Joy recommends Gusto.

Where do you find employees?

For many employers, the biggest small business staffing challenge is where to find employees. If you have a brick and mortar location with good foot traffic, like a Melissa’s coffee shops, posting your jobs in your business can be a great way to find potential employees. For businesses with a good social media following, posting on your business accounts can be a great way to find applicants who are already interested in your business.

In addition to more traditional methods like posting on Indeed or LinkedIn, attending local job fairs or hosting your own mini job fair can get you connected with potential employees. It’s also an opportunity to network with other small businesses in your area.

When you create a positive work culture and people enjoy working at your business, applicants will see that and be interested in working for your business. Employees will refer their friends and, depending on your type of business, customers may become interested in working for you as well.

How do you retain employees?

While higher pay and employment benefits are the first things many people think of when it comes to improving employee retention, they are far from the only business practices that encourage people to stay at a company. Other ways to boost employee retention include:

  • A positive, supportive, and accepting company culture. If you don’t have a good company culture, all the benefits in the world won’t fix retention challenges. Company and team culture is also essential small business success. After all, company culture is directly related to customer experience.
  • Ask your employees what they want and prioritize their needs and goals as much as you can. If your employees know that you care about them, they will care about your and your business.
  • Have regular face-to-face check-ins with your employees.
  • Incentivize your employees and reward them for their hard work. This could be as simple as communicating your satisfaction with a job well done to giving them an afternoon off, offering them new growth opportunities within the company, or giving them a monthly gas card to help them with their commute.
  • Hire good managers and be a good manager yourself.
  • Invest in proper employee onboarding and training. Make sure expectations, roles, and responsibilities are well defined for both the employee and the employer.
  • Communicate your business goals with your employees and let them know how meeting that goal will impact them. For example, if your business meets milestone A, then you will do B for your employees. This could include an increase in your minimum wage, a new employment benefit, or a celebration. The reward should match the amount of effort it will take to reach the milestone.

How to comply with local, state, and federal employment requirements?

  • Outsourcing your HR and payroll to external companies is one of the easiest ways to stay in compliance. External companies can handle all your staffing concerns, including: onboarding, to reviewing your employee handbook, handling legal employment questions, payroll, tipping, and termination. Many companies have minimal monthly fees and will make sure you are fully compliant. The cost of being fully compliant is less than the cost of getting in trouble with the Department of Labor.
  • Consult an attorney with any employment questions (BizCounsel or LegalZoom are great non-retainer options).
  • Have an employee handbook that outlines agreements and expectations for both you, as the employer, and your employees.

How can small businesses ensure that they are hiring the right people for the job?

Small business staffing changes and additions can have a major impact on a business, but how do you know if you are hiring the right person? Melissa’s advice is to focus on company cultural fit. If an applicant has a connection to the business or industry, that can make them an even stronger candidate. For entry-level positions, experience is not as important as company fit. Employees can always be trained for entry-level positions.

For positions that require more experience, posting and hiring from sites like Indeed and LinkedIn can be a great way to find applicants. Melissa has had a lot of success hiring people who have experience, but need flexibility at this stage in their life, often due to child or family care responsibilities. In many cases, these employees are very committed and experienced, but simply need a flexible schedule or to work from home. If you are open to working with employees who need a flexibility, include that information (and your expectations around flexile arrangements) in your job post.

Joy recommends asking applicants what they are looking to gain from this job and how this job will help them grow. She also recommends hiring people who are smarter than you so they can help you elevate your business to the next level.

How to build a great company culture?

  • Get everyone together in person at least once a year.
  • Keep it professional, but take interest in your employees as people, not just workers.
  • Check-in regularly.
  • Hold them accountable for the rules and expectations, but with lots of care.
  • Help them grow and give them what they need to be successful.
  • Build a “same team” mentality. You are all on the same team, working towards the success of the business and each other.

Want to hear more from Joy? Sign up for a one-on-one coaching session with Joy as part of AOF’s coaching hub. Coaching sessions with all of our expert coaches are always free. Follow Melissa and BrewPoint Coffee on Instagram and Facebook.

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