The limiting factor in the growth and success of any small business is its staff. The right staff can take on responsibility, innovate, sell, keep customers happy and make your life as the business owner much easier. The wrong staff can drain you and the rest of your employees of energy and time.

SMEs often struggle to recruit good staff. There is a shortage of good people whatever the size and reputation of an employer. At the moment it is a buyers' market. There are also some real or perceived reasons that small businesses may struggle in comparison to larger employers. For example, these might be:

• Your company pays below the market rate
• You may not be providing benefits such as healthcare, pension or childcare
• You operate in an unattractive working environment
• Employment in your company offers a limited career path and scope for personal or technical development
• Your company may be unable to guarantee the same level of job security
• The position on offer is not impressive addition to the CV for future potential employers

On the other hand there are some real benefits to working for a smaller company. Some examples of these are:

• Individuals matter and can make an impact on the whole business from day one
• The right people can progress to a senior position quickly
• Decisions are taken quickly and small businesses are fast-paced
• Employees in small businesses get opportunities to be involved in all parts of the business and to feel really engaged

You are in a market for the best employees – so treat it as a marketing exercise. It is as important for your business to win and keep great employees as it is to win and keep great customers so go about marketing in the same way. Create your recruitment strategy based on the following core principles:

• Identify your niche employees and your unique employee proposal
• Develop your brand or reputation and position it so that it attracts the kind of employees you want
• Build a portfolio of possible future enrollments and market to them – do not just go to market under pressure if someone leaves
• Develop a sales (recruitment) process that works
• Walk the talk – your proposal for recruits should have the reality for existing employees. They are your best recruiters
• Take on the six possible barriers to recruitment for SMEs mentioned above and find ways to remove them from your business