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Low Cost Ways to Invest in Talent for Your Small Business

When you’re operating a start-up business out of your home, expense control is often your number-one goal. It’s not enough to sell as much products and services as you possibly can. You also have to make sure you expenses are in line with your revenues – or else you’ll end up in the same trouble that so many entrepreneurial ventures find themselves in.

It’s a situation that Michaela Raner certainly understands. As a promotional products distributor in her first year of business, she’s had a constant focus on watching her expenses and finding ways to cut costs and achieve revenue goals without breaking the bank. The strategy has even trickled down to the people she’s hired to work at her company. After an initial foray into hiring some experienced people to work at her company, she now has moved to hiring interns at a much cheaper cost.

“It’s a smart strategy right for small business firms,” says Haley Gray, the president of Gray & Associates, a business consulting and coaching firm based in Chicago. “Number one, you have to be watching your costs at this point. But number two is even more important: this way you can get cheap workers who are very dedicated.”

Gray suggests looking to local colleges, or even some high schools, that have intern programs where they can get school credits. “This is often free and the kids who are in the programs are motivated to learn,” Gray says. “They have to do a good job to get the credit they need for school. And they’re also looking for valuable experience that they can put on their resumes.”

To find these students, Gray says distributors should contact their local schools and universities’ field work program coordinators. These are the people who tend to organize the schools’ efforts to place students in local jobs. “The best thing you can do is position your offering as a place where kids can learn the marketing business,” Gray says. “This is a highly-sought-after area by students with communications degrees – of which there are many – so you should appeal to what they’re looking for.”

If you’re going to have somebody do customer service, say so. If you’re looking at them simply packaging items together, call it fulfillment. “Whatever need you’re trying to fill, make sure that you’re presenting it in a way that would interest people looking to gain résumé experience,” Gray says. “Don’t just advertise the job as doing odds-and-ends around the office. Give it a title, like ‘operations coordinator’ or ‘customer service coordinator.’ Make it as appealing as possible to potential job candidates. This is how you can successfully get the kind of cheap labor that won’t impact your bottom line, but will enhance your company’s business.”