Hey, my fellow small business owners – raise your hand if you are having challenges related to hiring employees right now.

I am guessing there are a lot of hands up right now!

The small business owners I work with are experiencing business growth – and also finding it very challenging to find help.  And the data backs that up.

We recently hit a 52-year low in the unemployment rate and a twenty year high in the number of people quitting their jobs.  And in the most recent U.S. Census survey of small business owners, about one-third of them said they were having difficulties hiring paid employees.

If you’re having trouble finding qualified help, then maybe it’s time to try some less traditional options.  I’m not saying to give up your Indeed account.  But if you’re not finding what you’re looking for, then consider some alternative paths.

Perhaps a gig worker can help your small business.  You’ve heard the term, but do you know what they do?  In 2021, over one-third of U.S. workers were considered “freelance” which includes every kind of gig worker – skilled and unskilled.  They may not choose to be your employee, but these gig workers may be able to fill the gaps in your business.

Sales & Marketing Gigs

Are you looking for help with graphic design, content writing or any other forms of website design, blog posting or other creative services?  There are a multitude of options to connect you with freelancers who can help on an as-needed basis.  Similarly, if you are seeking an experienced ‘cold caller’ to reach out to potential customers, you can find freelancers who will cover this task for you and pass along the warm leads.  (Of course, as a market researcher, I am not a promoter of cold calling!)

Not happy with your branding?  Or looking for help with a promotional video?  Maybe you want someone to put some content together for your blog or manage your social media accounts.  These are great places where a gig worker can help.  Apps like Upwork or Fiverr will show you a list of individuals who can help, along with their pricing and rating from other users.

Some websites that help you find potential gig workers in this industry include:

If your needs are more project specific than ongoing, this can be a great way to get some one-off work done for your business.

Administrative Gigs

How much time do you think you spend scheduling meetings with clients and vendors?  Or reading through your emails just to sift through the most relevant ones?  Do you pay your own bills at work?  Think of some of the more administrative tasks that take up your time and consider off-loading them to a virtual assistant.

These same virtual assistants can often also help with customer service support, social media management, data entry for bookkeeping and other tasks that suck up your time.  Think about how you spend your time each day.  It could be that a little help from a VA (virtual assistant) could free up your time to focus on sales or planning, more than paying for the VA services.

Sites like Upwork and Fiverr offer VA services from ‘gig economy’ workers along with their many other services.  And then there are sites devoted to offering virtual assistance.  These include:

Make sure you’re clear on what you want your VA to do for you, and that you then get out of the way and let them do their job.  Trained professional VA’s can help you become much more productive by off-loading time-consuming low skill administrative tasks.

Internships – Student Gigs

Hiring a college intern might sound like something that is only done by large companies with big budgets who plan to hire these individuals upon graduation.  But internships can be beneficial and affordable for small business owners as well!

Consider contacting your local college or university to see if they have internship programs.  Their career services office may be able to help you create a job description and find qualified applicants.  A warning though – gone are the days of unpaid internships.  These students are looking for experience for sure, but they are also looking to get paid a living wage that allows them to continue to pay tuition as they work toward graduation.

You can also do some keyword searching on Linked In for students looking for internships.  And if your local college or university doesn’t use an online internship/job match program like Handshake, consider other similar apps like ULoop.

If the work you’re looking for doesn’t require a college degree, consider contacting the local technical college or even high schools in your area.  Low skill, low wage jobs that are not in retail or food service might be especially appealing to high school students who are tired of flipping fries and folding shirts.

Small Together 

The term ‘gig economy’ doesn’t have to only mean unknown non-local gig workers that you find on giant online search sites.  Give some consideration to the solopreneurs in your local area.  They may not fit the traditional definition of ‘gig workers’ – but the services they offer are likely similar, and the quality of the work is likely much higher.

After all, if you hire a gig worker to design a logo, but that person also drives an Uber Eats truck, assembles Ikea furniture, and babysits, are you really getting the most qualified help?  That doesn’t mean that the online sites are low quality overall, but certainly more unknown than the local options.

And, if someone has been making a living at graphic design and logo development for many years, they can back up their work for you.  They will have a portfolio of work to show you and likely be more up to speed on trends in colors and designs.  You might pay more, but you will get a higher quality product and be supporting a local entrepreneur.

Before you hop onto Fiverr, consider checking out the directory of your local Chamber of Commerce, or do a Google search for businesses near you offering the services you’re looking for.  After all, the best way to support small businesses like yours is for you to do the same!

Hey small business owners – where can you learn about hiring tips, marketing successes and other small business wins?  Consider a Business Owner Roundtable Group

We need to come together to help each other as we work to stay profitable and relevant in a world that is way too focused on big business and VC startups.  The best way to do that is to meet with other small business owners and hold each other accountable to decision making and strategic planning.  Join a virtual business owner roundtable group and see what a difference it makes!