How do startups compete with big corporations? They usually can’t match the salaries offered to promising applicants. They can’t offer the same benefits. Their offices don’t have pool tables and ping pong tables and bean bags laying around.

Yet every year, small firms manage to survive despite powerful competition. Some even end up getting multi-million dollar buyout offers from the same companies that were trying to squash them in the past.

The key difference between the small startups that succeed and those that don’t has to do with execution, and that frequently is because they attract and retain the best available talent.

As a startup or small company, you have a few distinct advantages over larger corporations: you can offer applicants a larger stake in the company, greater possibilities for advancement, and commit to making their time at the company a professional education.

So, are you offering employees a culture of learning? Here’s some questions to ask yourself.

Do You Care about Your Employees’ Future?

As an owner or manager, you should want your employees to learn and grow in their chosen profession, and one of the most important ways you can do this is to invest in learning opportunities. Employees need to know that you want them to thrive and succeed, and if you don’t offer opportunities for advancement and invest in learning opportunities, your best and brightest employees will find a company that will.

Do You Hire with an Open Mind?

Do you hire with an open mind, looking at the individual and their unique characteristics? Or do you run down a checklist seeing what skills they have and those they lack? In a static, stifling organization, managers make hires based on applicants’ existing skill sets, but your best organizations hire with an open mind and train employees with the skills they need to do, because they know that the leadership skills they bring are not as easily trainable (if at all) than the technical skills required for the job.  If you do this one thing, they’ll pay you back for it with greater productivity and loyalty down the line.

Do You Encourage Education?

Employee education, both formal and otherwise, is critical for a business to grow.  Many organizations have formal education reimbursement, but did you know that there are many learning resources online that are absolutely free?  We suggest that you hold a meeting and let your employees know what skills you need and where they can learn them. Providing access to learning opportunities will make it clear which employees are just there to clock in and clock out, and which ones are there to stay.

Are You a Mentor?

The most valuable benefit you can offer your employees is mentorship. You don’t have to navigate through the trials and tribulations of running a business on your own. Make it a learning opportunity by giving subordinates the skills to succeed.  Yes, some will leave to found their own businesses and others will become highly-capable upper level managers.  However, if you’ve built a culture which values learning, you’ll have the loyalty of those that stay and the gratitude of those that leave – remember that you are paying it forward.

For more ideas on being a Change Leader, check out our past blogs. If you’re interested in our services specifically, check out our homepage.