The five employees every small business needs

Make sure your small business workforce includes these five types of employees.


Small businesses play a critical role in the health of many economies, as they provide jobs for roughly half of the private workforce in certain nations. Since the recession, however, many small business owners have been forced to do more with less, making it essential to get the most out of every dollar, every resource, and, perhaps most importantly, every employee.

In fact, each individual employee within a small business — particularly those with 50 employees or less — can help shape the fate of the overall organization. After all, while larger companies can overcome a lack of productivity or recover from a bad hire, for a small business, having the wrong employee in the wrong role can literally mean the difference between staying in business or closing up shop for good. In order to keep your small business growing, even the best small business management strategy in the world doesn't mean anything without the right mix of people to execute against it.

The mentor

Many small businesses do not offer the same formal training and development programs provided by larger companies, but that doesn't mean that your junior employees shouldn't have an opportunity to learn on the job. Fortunately, there are certain people on your staff who are not only gifted at their jobs, but are also gifted teachers. Identifying potential teachers — those who genuinely want to share their knowledge with others — can be a boon to small businesses. These internal teachers eliminate the need to spend money on outside resources and can convey valuable institutional knowledge that only those within your company can possess.

Beyond technical skills, internal teachers can also educate new hires on company culture, processes and where they fit into the business strategy. This education also forms a foundation for the future of your company by grooming future leaders and, as a result, supporting the development of a succession plan.

The knowledge seeker

Not every employee is born to lead, or wants to — and that’s okay. Equally as important as finding leaders is finding learners — those with a passion for the business and a thirst for knowledge. These employees aren't satisfied with just knowing enough to do their jobs; they want to continue learning, whether it’s on the job, through extra training courses or even graduate school.

This type of attitude is something that can rub off on other employees and perhaps inspire them to further their education in some way. Additionally, these employees can keep the larger team up to speed on the latest industry trends or technical advancements — which is critical to staying current and relevant in today’s market.

The renaissance man or woman

Small business owners often wear many hats — from CEO to CFO to COO to HR manager — so it helps to have employees on staff who are equally as dynamic and multifaceted. People who can dabble in several different areas of the company as “pinch-hitters” can be immensely valuable. When work becomes overwhelming, you won’t be boxed in by a limited staff. You can count on these individuals to juggle additional duties and responsibilities while you focus on growth and strategy.

The morale booster

For every small business that has managed to thrive despite the economic downturn, there are several more that have had an unbelievably hard time staying afloat. Working for a company that is going through financial hardships can have a severely negative impact on employee morale.

That’s why it’s imperative to have some people on staff who can find the bright spots in what may seem like the most hopeless situations. It may not change the company’s fortunes, but it can have a positive effect on employee psyche and culture, which absolutely impacts day-to-day business.

The challenger

It’s important to surround yourself with people who are willing to speak out and challenge the status quo. Not every new idea is a good idea. You want to cultivate an atmosphere of healthy debate and discussion to be sure your business has strong strategies and ideas. Every now and then we all need a reality check — and the people who are living and breathing your business on a daily basis are just the ones to give it.

Managing a business these days — of any size — isn't easy. With limited budgets, resources and room for error, small business leaders face unique challenges. By ensuring your company has these five types of employees, your workforce will help you overcome these challenges and fuel your success.

Are you looking for a morale booster? A challenger? A renaissance woman? Contact us to find out how we can help you build a winning workforce in your small business.

Related content

Selling your company in interviews

Anyone who has been involved in team-building will know interviews are a two-way process. The best candidates are vetting employers as much as being vetted by them. So, it’s important for employers to recognize the need to sell their own organizations if they are to attract the best talent.

Read more
Advantages of hiring a contractor

Make the right choice when making your next hire.

Read more