How to Compete Against the Goliaths

You’ve seen the advertisements from Amazon, Target and other industry giants promoting starting rates of $15-$20 per hour and, as a small business owner, you know that there is no way that you can come close to those rates without ultimately going out of business.  That’s the bad news but you already know that anyway. The good news is that with an open mind and a little creativity, you can use your small size as a competitive advantage.  Here are some cost-effective ways for how small businesses can compete:

  • Part Time & Seasonal Employment Options: many of our small business clients have split full-time positions into multiple part-time positions.  These positions are highly desirable for parents, students and retirees thus you are significantly expanding your pool of potential candidates in a tight labor market.  Keep in mind, part-time and seasonal employees don’t need healthcare benefits and they are less likely to incur overtime, so you could actually save money.
  • Flexibility: this is the key area that small businesses beat the behemoths every time.  When able, allow employees to flex their shifts to meet their family obligations or allowing a parent to work from home when a child is ill. Consider 4-day work weeks and flextime.  Remember, a healthy work-life balance boosts employee morale and reduces stress.  Not sure how to be more flexible?   Ask your employees and have an open mind to considering new things.  Businesses that are unwilling to be flexible are likely to lose out in the war for talent. 
  • Coolness Factor: What fun things do you do at your company to make people want to come to work each day?  Remember, you are not able to compete with wages with the giants and, like it or not, a paycheck is not a privilege anymore.  Some fun ideas: put some fun games in the breakroom, have the President take an employee to breakfast each week, give your lowest level employees the best parking spots, allow employees to bring their pets to work, do impromptu fun things such as celebrating birthdays and life events, surprise everyone with a Friday afternoon picnic and give everyone some “playtime” to burn off some steam.  Consider piping in upbeat music, bring in a food truck for lunch or have a massage therapist come in for a day.  These are things that the big companies just don’t do. People want to enjoy coming to work so create an environment that makes them want to be there.
  • Truly Care About Your Employees: When is the last time you have had lunch with your staff or just spent time with them to see how they are going, both personally and professionally?  Do you know the names of each of your employees and what is happening in their lives?  If not, you are missing a tremendous opportunity that costs you nothing! As a small business owner, you have the ability to nurture relationships and connect with your team in ways that big employers can’t.  Develop strong relationships with your team and they will be happier, more productive and want to stay with you. Plus, they will be more likely to share their ideas if they are comfortable with you.
  • Practice What You Preach: Like it or not, your employees watch and mentally record everything you do at work.  Do you handle personal business while at work, take personal calls and texts throughout the day, take extended lunches, have the reserved parking spot or bring your dog to work when others can’t?  If so, I promise you that your employees think you are a hypocrite and do not respect you as their leader. Your employees should enjoy the same perks as you do, if not more!  Just remember, the best way to lead a team is to be on it and you need your employees more than they need you! 

Keep in mind, many of these suggestions will also work with your customers. Be that cool company that is fun to do business with, stay connected with your customers and hear what they have to say.  Don’t take your employees or your customers for granted as you need them both to survive.

To learn how Hubric Resources can help you compete against the goliaths, please contact Tom Hubric at Hubric Resources: or 610-670-7878 x101