How does a start-up compete for qualified, skilled people?

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(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

A specialised company that keeps factories and production lines running and installs new equipment has a hard time finding and retaining technical labour with the oil sands industry in British Columbia, Canada.

The company Neutron Factory Works can’t compete with their $45 an hour wages against $75 an hour oil patch wages.

If a small to medium-size business like this is challenged to find and keep staff, just imagine the difficulty for start-up or small businesses in virtually any sector who have much less to offer.

Start-ups at a certain stage may need to hire specialised staff. As the owner and founder you can’t do everything in your business. Your success will be influenced by your ability to attract good people to work for you. You get work done through people.

A new business just starting out doesn’t have a track record. Young qualified people in a market with skills shortages are quickly snapped up by the large firms. Without a track record it’s going to be a hard sell to attract young, qualified people aboard your start-up.

This is why you need to have a clear vision for your start-up, a vision that excites young people to work for your business. You need to sell your vision but not go overboard: prospective employees need to be aware of the risks involved in any start-up. If prospective employees believe that your company is going places and that if you succeed the rewards will follow, then they may be persuaded to join you.

Still, it’s hard to compete against the offers from the giant firms. For many young and qualified people who have their hearts set on working for the most money, it’s going to be probably impossible to persuade them.

Yet there may be a tiny percentage of qualified young people who want to work in a start-up or small business. They may want to learn more than just their specialisation. It could be that working in a small business would help them to assimilate and acquire entrepreneurial skills.

The start-up owner needs to understand what motivates prospective qualified staff. Do they want to gain valuable experience they won’t get at the conglomerates? Maybe things like treatment of people, values and safety are important drivers.

Your own staff can be your best ambassadors and help you tap into personal networks and their friends who may attract skilled young people to your business.

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