Nationally Celebrated Small-Business Owners Reveal Their Best Hiring Secrets
The best athletes in the world can’t compete in team sports alone. Neither can the most innovative, efficient and determined small-business owners.
A business owner’s success is dependent on his or her ability to build a strong team and keep them motivated. That’s no easy feat. Smart, hardworking, focused and good-natured employees are hard to come by and even harder to keep.
To recognize and celebrate National Small Business Week (NSBW), which started Monday, we reached out to the six finalists in the running to win the title of National Small Business Person of the Year and asked them for their very best hiring secrets.
Overwhelmingly, personality beats pedigree for these small-business owners.
For more than 50 years, the U.S. president has declared one week per year National Small Business Week. Throughout the week, Small Business Administration organizes events around the country to honor the Main Street entrepreneur. This year’s NSBW began on Monday and will end Friday.
On Friday, these six finalists will be celebrated in a ceremony at the White House, and the winner will be announced.
Have a read through the best hiring advice from these leading Main Street entrepreneurs -- in their own words -- below.
1. Charles Feit, founder of OnForce Solar
Headquarters: Bronx, N.Y.
Number of employees: 100 total; 85 full-time, 15 part-time.
Annual revenues: $30 million
This is a difficult question. My experience has been attitude trumps college degrees and titles. Where we are based in the Bronx, the unemployment rate is above average and it is a pervasive issue. Some of our best people came out of internship programs and people who came in with little business experience, but had the attitude and will to learn and excel in a new industry. I will take a candidate who comes in everyday eager to learn and grow than an MBA from an Ivy League school.
2. Carol Craig, founder of Craig Technologies
Headquarters: Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Number of employees: 414 total; 398 full-time; 16 part-time
Annual revenues: Approximately $45 to 50 million
We have a unique corporate culture that’s based on hiring individuals who demonstrate the core values – Family, Integrity, Loyalty, Passion, Community. If a person has these characteristics, minimal prior education and/or work experience need not be a barrier. I’ve always said that ‘I can teach anyone anything’ as long as they have the right attitude. I’ve hired friends and family, most who still work with me today. Several of my key personnel were or still are Navy wives that I met while my husband and I were in the service. I’ve even hired my bartenders!! (They have great attention to detail, are organized, and work really well under pressure -– it’s a no brainer.) And above all, trust your gut and intuition when it comes to hiring people who are a fit for your team.
3. Michael Miqueli, founder of San Antonio Broker Services
Headquarters: North Bergen, N.J.
Number of employees: 71 full time
Annual revenues: $8 million
I like to hire young people that are open to learning and are not yet set in their ways. That affords us the opportunity to teach them the way we would like things done. I also like people that are like me, full of energy and eager to make their mark on the world. My best tip for hiring the right people is that first and foremost that they buy into the vision of the company.
4. Richard (Rick) Jackson, founder of American Document Services
Headquarters: Las Cruces, N.M.
Number of employees: 18 total; 16 full-time, 2 part-time
Annual revenues: More than $1.5 million
Resumes are one thing but the personal interview speaks volumes if you know the right questions. I believe in people and their desire to do the right thing and make the right choices in life. I spend a lot of time in the personal interview listening more than speaking. The right team is a key to any successful business. I want everyone that works for ADS to feel like their job is the most important job they could have.
5. Necole Parker, founder of The ELOCEN Group, LLC
Headquarters: Washington, D.C.
Number of employees: 62 total; 52 full-time, 10 part-time
Annual revenues: $19.4 million
My best tip for hiring the right team personnel is making it a “win-win,” where team members earnestly enjoy the work they do, and workloads are completed and/or exceeded beyond customer expectations.
6. Alan Doan, founder of the Missouri Star Quilt Company
Headquarters: Hamilton, Mo.
Number of employees: 180 total; 155 full-time, 25 part-time
Annual revenues: Declined to provide
This is incredibly difficult, especially in an industry that very few people grow up dreaming of working in (not a lot of web developers that always wanted to build a quilting website), but the value of a leadership team can be judged by their ability to attract and keep the right talent. So we hold ourselves to a pretty high expectation. We are always on the hunt for talent that can be developed at the budget we can afford to spend. The other big asset for us is having good mentors and advisors. People to expand your network and amplify your voice in the world of finding talent.
Related: How to Become an Inspirational Leader (Infographic)
Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.