Throw Out Everything You Knew About Hiring...Now!’s literally the plague of every business owner. It’s probably one of the most exhausting aspects of running a small business. If you have more than one employee, in your mind you’re raising your hand saying, “Yes, that’s me! I hate hiring and firing people.” In fact, it’s such a dreadful process, business owners can’t wait to turn the hat over to somebody else and wash their hands of the dirty task.

Small business owners know how difficult it is to find and retain top talent. It seems like finding good people is hard, and keeping them is even harder. You may find that once you luck out and hire a good one, he or she leaves for another opportunity before you can get a return on your investment – so frustrating, right? For so many companies, they hire and train people only to find themselves wondering... "When will he (or she) ditch me?”

A large percentage of companies big and small have two main issues with attracting top talent: 1) they have a hard time finding good people, and 2) they have an even harder time convincing good people to stay. So, let’s address these two issues.

‘I Can’t Find Good People’

If this is your number one problem, you’re probably going about it all wrong – hiring that is. If you’re hiring people based on their resumes alone, or if you’re hiring them based on their qualifications or how they look on paper, your hiring process is probably flawed, very flawed. This is because hiring is NOT black and white. It involves a human element and to say otherwise would be foolish.

While ghostwriting for entrepreneurs I’ve heard the same thing over and over: “You must hire for company culture. Don’t hire based on resumes alone.” In fact, don’t hire strictly because of experience either. You’d be surprised at how many successful business owners are willing to overlook a highly-qualified candidate with a bad attitude for an inexperienced job applicant who is enthusiastic, positive and eager to learn. “Always choose attitude over experience. Always,” said Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran.

Virgin Group’s legendary founder, Sir Richard Branson is on the same page as Corcoran. When Branson is looking for a great hire, the first thing he looks for is an awesome personality. “He says it’s the most important quality for a successful business, as you can always teach job-specific skills and company knowledge later,” Vivian Giang writes about Branson in the LinkedIn Talent Blog.

“A person who has multiple degrees in your field isn’t always better than someone with broad experience and a wonderful personality,” Branson told Forbes. “I like to take chances on people, and whenever possible, promote from within – it sends a great message to everyone in the company when someone demonstrates a passion for the job and leadership skills at every step along the way and is rewarded with a leadership role.”

So, how do you find good people? Here are some ways to do it:

  • Hire people who fit in your company culture. Avoid hiring people who won’t get along with you and your team. Avoid hiring people who you can’t see working there.
  • Hire people who share your company values. If the applicant will view the position as “just another job,” pass on them. You want someone who not only wants to be there, but somebody who won’t be in a hurry to clock out every day.
  • Trust your gut. If something about the applicant rubs you the wrong way, don’t hire them.
  • Don’t hire based on a resume or experience alone. Just because somebody looks good on paper, it doesn’t mean they won’t lie or cheat, or become the office gossip.
  • Be sure to call the person’s references! You might be surprised, but not all references give stellar recommendations. A reference might be your greatest resource for an honest opinion about the applicant.
  • Make hiring a team sport. Encourage employees to always be on the lookout for great personalities who would be a valuable addition to the company.

Hiring does not only happen inside the office. You may find your next best team member behind a Starbucks counter, on the putting green, at a megastore, or at the mall. He or she may even be the person who serves you dinner at your favorite restaurant. Get in the habit of scouting for your next great talent wherever you go! Just focus on hiring people you like.

“At Zappos, we really view culture as our No. 1 priority. We decided that if we get the culture right, most of the stuff, like building a brand around delivering the very best customer service, will just take care of itself.” ~Tony Hsieh, January 9th, 2010, The New York Times  

Watch this Inc. video on Tony Hsieh: “I Fire Those Who Don’t Fit Our Company Culture.”

I Can’t Keep Good People

Suppose hiring good people isn’t your problem, keeping them is. In that case, you haven’t created a work environment where people want to stay. Let’s review some of the key reasons why people quit their jobs:

  • The job doesn’t pay enough.
  • The employees feel unappreciated.
  • The managers yell (or even scream) at employees.
  • The managers criticize the employees.
  • The managers micromanage the employees.
  • The workplace is toxic due to gossip, criticism, backstabbing, etc.
  • The workplace is never “fun.”
  • Employees are not encouraged to learn and grow.
  • There is not enough room for promotions or pay raises.
  • The mangers don’t let employees complete tasks. 

As a small business owner, it’s your job to attract, hire and retain top talent. If you hire people with the right attitude, who fit your company culture, everyone should enjoy each other’s company. However, none of this is possible if you have a bad attitude, if you’re the one who is driving people away. If you’re in the habit of criticizing, yelling and micromanaging, what you’ll get is a revolving door of employees and it will impact your bottom line. You will waste a lot of time, energy and resources hiring and training employees, only to have them quit on you in less than a year’s time.

If your leadership leaves something to be desired, you need to start leading with your heart. According to Lolly Daskal, a leadership expert, you don’t need to be cold, aloof and analytical, and you don’t need to separate your emotions from work. “The single most important factor that differentiates a good leader from a great leader is LOVE. Yes, you heard me. Love!” says Daskal, author of the Leadership Gap. “When you Lead With Love, success follows.”

Elainna Ciaramella is an independent journalist, business blogger, and ghostwriter for entrepreneurs and business professionals nationwide. She has written extensively on the topics of business, entrepreneurship, law, and medicine. She is well-versed in search engine optimization, content marketing, and social media. You can follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Instagram.