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Why Isn’t Anyone Applying for Small Business Jobs?

Over the past two weeks, I’ve talked to almost a dozen entrepreneurs that have thriving businesses that are completely stuck and unable to find good quality people to join their ranks.

Read our quote about how small businesses can find skilled employees.

Most of these small businesses are the kinds of places you can go to and add tremendous value quickly while being apprenticed in the mastery of a skill.

For example, I talked with a manufacturer and diesel mechanic that cannot find anybody to come help him serve small businesses and their fleets. I also met an entrepreneur with a company that does programming for software and internet applications but is completely unable to find help.

Those are some of the more technical types of entrepreneurial jobs I’ve seen needing to be filled, but there’s also a great demand for people that can simply add value in service industry jobs. Whether it’s a house cleaning job, masonry work, painting, or assisting in a daycare, the fact is that small business jobs are everywhere. Entrepreneurs are desperately trying to find great people to work for them.

Many of the entrepreneurs that I begin my conversations with start talking about how few people, particularly young people, like to do hard work because they seem to desire a more cushy job. While I believe there’s definitely a lack of grit and determination in our society, I also think that small businesses are struggling to find employees because of an entirely different problem.

Why Can’t Small Businesses Find Great People?

It’s because small businesses are hidden from the general public.

I remember when I got my first job as a 19-year-old punk at a Perkins Restaurant and Bakery in Lakeville, Minnesota. I ended up going there because it was close by, it was a brand that I recognized, and I simply had no idea what other options there might be.

Small businesses struggle every day to grow their brand awareness and to help their prospective clients, let alone the general public, know that they exist and that they do a good job. One of things about small businesses is that they typically serve niche segments because it leads to highly specialized value propositions and profitability.

So one of the main difficulties that small businesses face is that people simply don’t know they exist.

Education seems to have lost its mark in many ways when it comes to preparing people for the critical thinking skills, associated with entrepreneurship.

Liberal Arts education is phenomenal because it’s supposed to tap into a vast array of subjects and competencies in order to stimulate diverse thinking. However, something has been lost when it comes to the critical thinking required to create businesses and pursue mastery in a competency.

What I mean here is that it seems like most people are looking for a job that pays them a certain amount of money and has a certain quality of life associated with it. This pursuit of lifestyle and wage velocity ignores what I believe to be the key to entrepreneurship and, therefore, the key to wealth.

The pursuit of mastery and the pursuit of maximizing value and utility from resources is what entrepreneurship is all about; Becoming the best at something, and adding the most value you can with the resources at hand.

The pursuit of mastery, defined according to me, is deciding to set out on a lifelong trajectory towards becoming a master in whatever trade, craft, business, skill, or passion somebody might have. This is much different than the way we seem to be thinking about careers and jobs. It seems today that we often focus on the company and the type of income we want to earn, which needs to be seen as the result of a set of values, work ethic, and having a habit of learning.

Those of us that have been in the workforce for more than 15 years, understand that people who know how to solve complex problems, do things that other people don’t know how to, or add massive value, are the ones that get paid the most.

The only way to become the type of person that adds the most value, is to see yourself as pursuing mastery rather than a career path.

Getting the most out of the resources you have

The first thing our education system seems to be missing is the ability to help unleash people in their path towards becoming a master, the second thing it’s missing is the teaching of resourcefulness and maximizing utility. 

Maximized utility is a fancy way of saying “how to get the most out of something.”

In a capitalist and free enterprise system, which is the noblest and most beneficial economic system in the universe, it’s critically important to understand that we must find ways to add the most amount of value with whatever resources we have at hand–even if those resources are limited.

This is a simple economic idea, but for some reason, we forget how applicable it is in our education, career path, and lifelong learning pursuits.

Resourcefulness with people, talent, money, and time are what separates the winners from the losers. What I mean is that people who look at their time, money, are a resource to be maximized, end up building the most financial momentum.

One way to look at this is to look at the way some people start a side hustle, while others screw around in their free time. While we all need to have time to unwind, some people see their open calendar and think of ways to live intentionally.

I’ve seen people live intentionally by reading books, starting businesses, and finding ways to serve others and simply add value to the world around them. This doesn’t need to be for the pursuit of profit–it could be for any reason!

It seems like we as a society, have edged towards entertainment and leisure, rather than maximizing the utilization of our finite resources.

We waste time on entertainment and leisure, rather than start businesses & hustle.

In fact, I’ve grown tired of people that are financially burdened, but do nothing to innovate ways to create value for other people, and therefore make additional income. For example, it would be very easy for somebody who is in debt, to find two or three homes that they could clean on a consistent basis. Housecleaning is an easy way for somebody to simply add value and earn money.

In fact, my grandmother spent a good part of her life as a homemaker with side jobs. She took her limited resources and maximized them with amazing efficiency – in the typical way that Depression Era folks would.

It was nearly impossible to identify what was inside of a margarine container in my grandmother’s fridge and there were stacks of reusable items such as bread bags, food containers, wash rags, and free samples throughout her home. My grandmother was a saver, and we joke about it quite a bit. While it is kind of funny that she would save and be frugal in really extreme ways, it wasn’t done because she was cheap.

Cheap is all about austerity while maximizing utilization is all about investment. Austerity measures and lower expenses are critical to having a financial success story, yet investing your time and resources in ways that help you create value for other people will birth into extra income, businesses, or just the favor of your communities.

All that probably sounded like a bunch of overthinking to say something that’s pretty obvious – we are not seeing enough workers to help out with all the small businesses.

How Can a Small Business Find Great People?

The first thing you can do is to try to optimize your website to attract the kind of people that you would like to have on your team.

Do you portray your brand, mission, values, and purpose alongside a careers tab on your website? Your website doesn’t just draw in visitors and market, it serves as a tool to leverage a business owner’s time and efforts.

So another reason for small businesses to invest in the web presence is to help attract the right kind of people that can join their team.

I just wanted to share some of the thoughts that I had in reaction to the frustration so many of my friends and clients are facing.

if you’re a small business looking to find great people, I highly recommend that you portray your values, mission, purpose, and your core focus on your website and then build out a utility page for careers. Ensuring that your focus is made clear will help you to find the best quality candidates who align with your goals, values, and purpose.


Also published on Medium.

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