BY SANA ALIBUX | PIVOT MAGAZINE WRITER
According to recent data from Statistics Canada, after losing more than 600,000 jobs in 2009, small businesses created almost 140,000 new jobs in 2010 and 2011 combined. If more new jobs are expected to come from small business this year, a better understanding is needed of how to create jobs and source top talent.
Intuit Canada, a leading provider of business and financial management solutions for small and mid-sized businesses, set out to conduct a study of over 500 Canadian small business owners to learn more about these trends and challenges.
From this study, we have learned a few things Canadian entrepreneurs should consider to create more new jobs.
“Small business job creation is moving in the right direction, and we believe that with the right economic conditions and tools, entrepreneurs can create even more new jobs,” says Robert King, Director for Small Business at Intuit Canada. “We also recognize that creating jobs is really tough work. Most entrepreneurs don’t have an HR department or a payroll unit to help them.”
Where to start – the process before hiring
First, there’s the process of figuring out how to find qualified applicants, screen them, and interview them. Then, once an employee comes on board, there’s payroll to manage, along with government reporting requirements.
Esther Friedberg Karp, President of CompuBooks Business Services, says there are four key things to consider before a small business hires their first (or next) employee:
- The state of the company’s cash flow
- The impact of running payroll within the office
- What options exist for running payroll
- What needs to be done for compliance with government regulations and requirements
You think you’re ready? Some of the challenges that lie ahead
According to Friedberg Karp, selecting, implementing and managing payroll can be one of the biggest challenges small businesses face when preparing to hire for the first time.
“Ask yourself if you’ll be able to afford paying employees, and the associated payroll expenses. The increased sales you hope to get from having additional help are exciting, but meaningless if you can’t pay for the increased expenses,” she said.
Other elements of the hiring process that need early attention include the company’s short and long-term hiring strategies, the duration of training new employees, legal formalities and compliance with various regulatory bodies including Canada Revenue Agency.
“When I talk about compliance, I mean things like minimum wage, vacation pay, statutory holiday, sick pay, termination pay, records of employment, T4s, and source deduction,” she said. “Compliance is huge, and ignorance of the rules is not an excuse for not following them. You must comply with the rules.”
Don’t worry, there are tools out there to help
To help small business owners navigate the hiring process, Canada Revenue Agency has created an informative video series, available on its website, that walks new employers through the hiring process and payroll considerations. The video series can be found here.
One of the findings of the Intuit study showed that small businesses already using some form of payroll software were significantly more likely to be hiring in the year ahead.
The study also found that 97% of small business owners who use payroll software like QuickBooks appreciated the efficiency, accuracy and one-stop-integration of the system.
“Most entrepreneurs are creating jobs without the network of solutions and support that bigger companies can rely on,” said King. “At Intuit, we believe that small business owners deserve more help and support so that they can create even more jobs and prosperity. Using accounting software such as QuickBooks instead of a spreadsheet enables you to work seamlessly with your accountant, and ensures that your accounting records are up-to-date and that you are in compliance with government requirements.”
Everything is in place, now show me the talent!
So you must be thinking, ‘if I have my payroll options sorted and I know what needs to be done to comply with government requirements, how do I find my new star employees?’
James Clift is the CEO of KarmaHire, a Vancouver-based startup that helps companies find and attract talent. Since coordinating their first job fair in July 2012, KarmaHire has hosted numerous other job events for universities and tech companies, including one of the largest government job fairs to promote the City of Prince George.
The first step in finding the right fit for your team is taking the time to write a good job description,said Clift. His biggest tip: don’t think of it as just a posting. Rather, think of it as an advertisement.
“Don’t just copy and paste the specifications of the role,” he said. “Put yourself in the shoes of the person you want to hire, and ultimately how you can reach them.”
This means avoiding the use of bullet points and skimming over job details. Adding more content to personalize the experience, and forgoing traditional black and white documents in favour of a multimedia approach can go a long way in helping you find the best fit for your team.
When it comes time to meet the candidates in person, Clift said it’s important to maintain a structured process for every interview, rather than trying to ‘wing it’ like some startups tend to do.
In addition to asking the standard questions about past roles and current skill sets, Clift said asking candidates behavioural and situational questions will help lend insight into their range of experience as well as their thinking process.
For tech-oriented roles, having some sort of test – such as a coding test for software candidates – is a good way to see their skills in action. Ultimately, Clift said, employers should strive to make sure the interview experience is the same for every candidate. That will help make comparisons and your final decision easier.
To learn more about the results of Intuit’s survey of small business hiring practices, challenges, and trends, you can download the free e-book here.
Have tips of your own to share? Please comment below and share your advice on key things to consider before expanding your team.
Earlier this year, Intuit Canada talked to more than 500 small business owners about the top trends and challenges of job creation and sourcing top talent. Spurred by the results of that study, Startup Canada and Intuit Canada have partnered on a campaign to support small business owners and entrepreneurs across Canada in accessing the knowledge and tools they need for better hiring practices and to support the success and growth of their companies. Stay tuned to PIVOT for more conversations with key players and experts in hiring and small business human resources. Also, check out Intuit’s new Google+ Page for links to essential hiring and payroll resources and tools.