Recruiting for Small Businesses

By Tyler Raymie

Recruiting isn’t an issue that is often associated with small business owners. Often, owners will simply hire the first candidates they interview to fill an opening, so they can get back to running the business. However, for many customers, your employees will make or break their experience. When this is considered, it becomes apparent that finding quality employees is vital to the success of any growing company. With that in mind, let’s take a brief, high-level look at some of the major questions associated with recruiting.

What type of people am I looking for? Obviously, the necessary skills of employees will vary by what kind of job you have open. However, there are certain character traits that are common among great employees in any industry. Three common examples are:

  1. According to a 2012 Forbes article by Alan Hall, this is always “the first factor to consider.” It is essential for employees to possess “the necessary skills, experiences, and education” to provide first-rate job performance.
  2. I like this one, because many other factors play into it, such as reliability, accountability, and work ethic. An employee who is committed to a business feels that they have a personal investment in the business, and will put forth a greater effort to see it succeed. You want employees who aren’t afraid of commitment, and that are looking for more than just a paycheck.
  3. This is another one that implies other qualities, such as creativity, teamwork, and a willingness to learn. An adaptable employee can thrive in a wide variety of situations, and so can be incredibly valuable for a small business owner who has a multitude of varying tasks to complete.

There are other qualities that are important to look for, but these three are among the most common from CEO’s and business owners.

What tools are available for recruiting? Two big ones for small business owners are your local Chamber of Commerce and social media, such as Facebook. Chamber members will usually receive free access to job boards, allowing you to reach a wide selection of candidates. Social media websites such as Facebook, as well professional sites like LinkedIn, allow you to transmit your job opening through your personal and professional network. They also allow you to reach out to your friends, family, and business contacts. This, too, allows you to reach wide variety of candidates, many of them a potential fit for your opening. Print ads in your local newspaper are another option. While you may not be able to reach as many potential candidates, this is still a viable and effective option for reaching out.

How do I recruit the right kind of candidates? The way you present the job opening can go a long way in attracting the right kind of candidates. The staff at Entrepreneur Media suggest that you complete a “job analysis” before writing your ad. This analysis should cover “The physical/mental tasks involved,” “How the job will be done,” “The reason the job exists,” and “The qualifications needed.”  Next, you should write a job description. According to Entrepreneur, “This is basically an outline of how the job fits into the company.” Focus on the position’s responsibilities and goals, as well as “whom that person will report to,” and “how the job relates to other positions in the company.” Once you have these, you can use them to write an ad that will attract the right kind of candidates. Entrepreneur suggests that to write a “targeted ad for your business, look at your job specifications and pull out the top four or five skills that are most essential to the job.” Make sure the requirements are educational and experience-related, as these are the hardest for the candidate to fake.

There is no single, definitive method for recruiting employees. A lot of it depends on the type of business you run, as well as the type of position you need to fill. However, these methods are suitable guidelines that can be applied across industries and settings. It may not seem like a priority, but your employees will define the experience of many of your customers. Hiring the right ones can be the first, most vital step in effective marketing.


Special thanks to: Amy Dutton, Haylee Weaver


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3 Essential Aspects of a Mission Statement

Last week I talked about why mission statements (or elevator pitches) are important for small businesses. Today, I am going to give some advice for writing them. It may seem like a simple enough task, but you are trying to sum up the primary goal of your business in a few sentences, or less. This can either be an exercise in futility, or a proverbial goldmine for your business, all depending on how much effort you put in. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three essential aspects of your mission statement.

The first thing you need to check with your mission statement is that it is fulfilling its purpose correctly. You want to make sure what you are saying actually means something, and isn’t just some ethereal piece of writing that no one understands and has little consequence in the real world. In a 2012 article for Forbes, Jim Nichols compares a business’ mission statement to the military’s “commander’s intent.” “The commander’s intent focuses on an end state communicated to each and every member,” He writes. “If the commander’s intent is to take that hill, then even the last soldier standing knows that he has to take that hill, regardless of rank, positioning, skill, etc.” Your mission statement should communicate to all you employees your end goal. However, it doesn’t need to be overly specific in doing this.

Secondly, you need to make sure you keep your mission statement simple. It is not where you define how you will achieve your end goal, only where you define your end goal. In a 2014 article for Entrepreneur, Mike Kappel explains; “A mission statement helps you pin down on paper what you are going to achieve.” He goes on; “Don’t let your mission statement constrain your business too much. Just make sure that your mission statement is sensible – but allows for growth.” You don’t want your statement to be too vague, so use language that is easy to understand. A great example of a short mission statement belongs to the nonprofit organization TED: “Spread ideas.” It doesn’t paddle on about how they will spread ideas, or even any specific type of idea. It keeps TED’s mission simple, understandable, and leaves it room to grow. Most importantly, it sums up exactly what TED does in two words.

Lastly, you need to express what makes you unique. This is your mission, not your competitor’s. The website advises you to “identify any underlying philosophies or values that guide your company.”  Comparing Tesla and Ferrari gives us a good example:

Tesla: “Our goal when we created Tesla a decade ago was the same as it is today: to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.”

Ferrari: “To make unique sports cars that represent the finest in Italian design and craftsmanship, both on the track and on the road.”

We can see that although both companies are creators of expensive vehicles, they have highly contrasting mission statements. One is focused on sustainable transport while the other is focused on style and speed. Be sure that your mission statement communicates what makes your goal different from your competitor’s.

This should help you develop a mission statement that represents you. Remember, your mission statement should be personal, and should show that you care about what you are doing. Don’t worry about being too specific, but make it clear enough that it gives your business direction. This may seem like something small, but if it’s done right, it can define your business for years to come.


Special thanks to: Susan Pitts, Bryan Ziegler, Todd Rausch, Amy Dutton, Joel Youngs, Tricia Janes

AMERICA’S SBDC IOWA ANNOUNCES NEW REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR ITS AMES CENTER Brian Tapp is the new regional director for the Iowa State University SBDC



AMERICA’S SBDC IOWA ANNOUNCES NEW REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR ITS AMES CENTER Brian Tapp is the new regional director for the Iowa State University SBDC

AMES, Iowa – America’s SBDC Iowa (SBDC) is pleased to announce that Brian Tapp is the new Regional Director for the Iowa State University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Ames. He started his new position on August 1, 2017.

Tapp will be advising and training entrepreneurs and existing business owners in Boone, Marshall, and Story counties.

“America’s SBDC Iowa is pleased to add Brian Tapp to our team of knowledgeable, experienced, and professional business advisors,” says SBDC State Director Lisa Shimkat. “Brian has considerable business and counseling experience and will provide excellent service to the region’s clients and promoting economic growth in Central Iowa.”

Brian has a wealth of experience in economic development. Previously he worked at The Bank of Missouri as an SBA Loan Officer and Southeast Missouri State University focusing on the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Most recently he was in a shared position with the SBDC and the Value‐Added Agriculture program at Iowa State University.

America’s SBDC Iowa is an outreach program of Iowa State University’s College of Business and the Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations. Iowa State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, ethnicity, religion, national origin, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, sex, marital status, disability, or status as a U.S. veteran. Inquiries regarding non‐discrimination policies may be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity, 3410 Beardshear Hall, 515 Morrill Road, Ames, Iowa 50011, Tel. 515‐294‐7612, email

Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, America’s SBDC Iowa has 15 regional assistance centers located strategically across the state. Since program inception in 1981, the SBDC has helped Iowa businesses and entrepreneurs through no fee, confidential, customized, professional business counseling and practical, affordable training workshops.

For more information on America’s SBDC Iowa programs or services, call (515) 294‐2030 or visit,, or

Press Contacts:
Tricia Janes, America’s SBDC Iowa, 515‐294‐2030,


The Value of a Mission Statement

by Tyler Raymie

Do mission statements have value for small businesses? While some may not like the idea of a “mission statement,” per se, being able to communicate your business’s purpose, range, value, and distinctiveness in a short paragraph, even a few sentences, can be extremely beneficial. Think of it as your high, high, HIGH level business strategy, and off of which everything else in your business can be built. With that in mind, let’s look at the audience and various purposes of a mission statement.

Who is your mission statement for? Most customers are unaware that it even exists. Think about the last time you went into Wal-Mart and thought “my, they are really fulfilling their mission statement today.” It probably never happened. There are three main audiences for your mission statement. The first is yourself. Not only do you create it, but you are most affected by it, as it defines the primary goal of your business. The second audience are your lenders and investors. Most mission statements are too vague to have a strong impact on these groups. However, a good mission statement can provide a strong opening to a business plan, which may be useful in obtaining capital. The third and most important audience is your employees. These are the people who will have direct contact with your customers (in most cases), and so need to feel as strongly about your business as you.

So, with audience in mind, let’s look at the purpose of a mission statement. In a 2013 article for Forbes, Patrick Hull writes that a mission statement “provide[s] you and your employees with the framework and purpose [of your business].” Consider Ferrari’s mission statement: “To make unique sports cars that represent the finest in Italian design and craftsmanship, both on the track and on the road.” Everything Ferrari makes and sells falls within this framework, down to the details. They build fast, sleek vehicles for affluent customers. Your mission statement should sum up your business’s goal without putting it in too narrow of a box.

It can also help differentiate you from competitors. In a 2014 article for Entrepreneur, Tim Berry asks; “Look at your company’s mission statement, if you have one: Would your customers know that’s yours and not your competitors?” He is making the point that your mission statement should communicate what makes your business unique. If your competitor could use the same statement as you, it is too vague.

One more important purpose of a mission is to motivate your employees. Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer wrote about the importance of giving your employees meaning in 2012 for the Harvard Business Review. They talk about the importance of amplifying meaning to employees, in order to engage employees more consistently and intensely. “To accomplish this…[employers] must communicate to employees how their work contributes to these sources of meaning,” they write. “Often, a well-articulated mission statement is the place to start.” A well-thought out mission statement can inspire your employees to achieve. But words alone don’t do the trick. As Amabile and Kramer write, “far too often, mission statements turn out to be empty lip service to values that aren’t lived every day by managers inside the organization. So this is the leader’s second task: walking the talk of the mission statement.” Unless you as the owner act like the mission statement means something, it will be utterly lost on your employees.

Maybe you don’t like the idea of a written mission statement. While there are more important things for small businesses to worry about, one cannot deny the value of a basic, central goal that defines the company and communicates your value. Being able to communicate every facet of your business in a short statement will keep you focused in day to day operations, and encourage your employees to do the same.



Special thanks to: Susan Pitts, Bryan Ziegler, Todd Rausch, Amy Dutton, Joel Youngs, Tricia Janes