Do you find it difficult to fill your open positions, regardless of whether you are hiring for entry-level or skilled labor? Are you getting frustrated filling in to keep work flowing, and passing on opportunities simply because you don’t have the employees to meet the demand? Rest assured, you are not alone in this.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2012, there was a shortage of more than 10 million workers nationwide. This is not just a rural problem, it’s a problem across the nation.

It’s only going to get worse in coming years.  According to Businessweek, over the next 10 years, 21% of management and 24% of middle-management positions will become vacant, across all functions, industries and regions. In rural areas, we can expect the labor shortage to be even more extreme, particularly for small business owners in regions where the energy industry is booming. Time and again, business owners lament to me they cannot pay wages that compete with the oilfield. So what do you do?

First, you must acknowledge the urgency and importance of planning, networking and recruiting to fill your open positions. This must become a strategic and on-going focus in your business, with an eye toward creating a full pipeline of prospective, qualified applicants.

The importance of this is equivalent to the importance you place on business development. Do spotty business development and you get inconsistent cash flow. Do hit or miss recruitment to fill open and upcoming positions and you will continually struggle to find employees.

Second, you must come to grips with the time and effort that will be needed to adequately address this problem in your business. I recently had a business owner reach out to me due to challenges with finding and keeping employees. He told me this is an urgent and important problem, but he has very little time to devote to addressing it (because he was so busy working in the business to cover for the shortage of employees!). He wanted a “quick fix” and did not like hearing the harsh dose of reality I shared with him. It can be fixed, but it will require more than just an hour or two of attention.

As a small business owner, you must get very smart about how you plan, network and recruit to fill open positions. Kari Warberg Block, founder and CEO of Earth-Kind and the SBA's 2013 North Dakota Small Business Person of the Year, shared with me that she is always thinking ahead, asking herself, “What positions will I need to fill in the next 3 years?”

Sabrina Dr. Sabrina Schleicher recognizes that employee problems can be  one of the biggest stumbling blocks for any business owner.   With her background in psychology, and years of coaching small  business owners to extraordinary results, Dr. Schleicher knows what it takes to find, keep and get exceptional performance out of your biggest investment-your employees. Access her comprehensive video training 5 Secrets to Exceptional Employee Performance (her gift to you!) at

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