Small businesses have a lot of hard spending choices to make, so it’s essential they get the most bang for the buck they spend. And this year one of the places many will have to spend is on hiring. When it comes to small business hiring, the NFIB reports that 52% of small businesses reported hiring or trying to hire, but 45% had few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. And in fact 15% of small business owners said hiring was their single most important business problem; it’s the number three problem on the list for all small businesses (behind taxes and red tape).

Because the hiring market is robust and unemployment relatively low, small businesses are competing with larger entities for the same talent. Fifty-six percent of small business say they plan on hiring this year, according to a recent survey, but 70% of those said they haven’t been able to find qualified talent; 15% of small business owners said a lack of qualified candidates was the greatest threat to their growing business. In many cases the talent is there, it’s just that small businesses don’t think they can afford to hire the people they need. They wind up turning away customers (because they don’t have enough staff to take on additional work) and leaving revenue on the table.

To make the most of your resources, hire smarter—think quality over quantity. Having more employees doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be operating better. Instead, hire the smartest people for the job–and those that are the best cultural fit—and you’ll be far more likely to set your company on a path toward growth and success.

Here’s how:

Don’t be afraid to hire people that are smarter than you.

In the same way a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, your business is only as strong as its team and if there’s a weak link in that team, well, the team’s weak.  The smarter your employees, the smarter your business. So if you interview someone who knows more than you do about your industry, or the technology you’re trying to create, the processes involved, the math—whatever it is, don’t be intimidated by it. Embrace it.

As serial entrepreneur (and self-made millionaire) Ryan Blair wrote in his book Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: “It is my goal to be in awe of every person I hire. I want to see traits in her or him that are more dynamic or more positive than my own abilities in that area, because I know that simply by working with that person, I will be able to grow and the company will prosper.”

Think outside the hiring box.

Since you are competing with far bigger companies it’s not a great idea to single-source employees. If you use a recruiting firm (or more than one) that’s fine, but you should also use job boards, search engines and social media.  It’s especially important for small businesses to go where the big guys don’t venture. Skip paying top dollar for a booth at a big career fair and attend small industry networking events instead. Talk to professors and career counselors at local universities that work to place students in local companies.

For instance, at Hatchbuck, we’ve tapped into amazing talent from non-traditional avenues, like Venture for America – a nonprofit that pairs up talented college grads with start-ups and early stage growth companies – and teaming up with Washington University’s Olin Business School, to work on individual projects with students. Launchcode is another program that provides an untraditional path to hiring by pairing up aspiring developers with businesses that need tech talent.

Think outside of the box to tap into new talent pools.

Involve your team.

Your employees in the trenches every day likely know best where you need to hire and what skills are necessary to do the job right. As a business owner you probably have more of a 30,000-foot view of things (or at best, maybe a 10,000-foot view).  

Asking your employees for referrals – by reaching out to those they know that they think would be a great fit, Tweeting about job openings, posting on Facebook and sharing openings on LinkedIn – means they put some of their skin in business’ hiring game, and are invested in the success of that hire.

And, remember, a referral bonus never hurts when it comes to motivating your team to find the best candidate for the job.

Don’t nickel-and-dime your business.

If you approaching hiring like a bargain hunter, you risk hiring someone who is a bad fit for your current team and the business overall. You really do get what you pay for and, of course, there is rarely a discounted price for smart, hard-working, ethical employees.

Depending on what you need, you may even wind up paying a highly qualified executive more than you pay yourself as the CEO or owner of the business. But if your company needs to be turned around or is poised for steep growth, you’ll be more successful with an experienced, top-notch professional leading the way than you will with someone less qualified but less expensive. You may have to pay top dollar for the expertise you’re getting, but consider it an investment in the company.

Always be hiring.

Small employers sometimes treat hiring like a one-off project: fill this open position and then wait until the next person leaves to start sourcing candidates again. It’s much better for your business and your staffing needs to continually be engaging potential hires, even after an open position is filled. Make sure your company’s website highlights your culture, the important members of your team and highlights why your business is a great place to work. Then you can establish connections with those interested in working for you—essentially building a talent pipeline–and that means when you have a vacancy you aren’t in crisis mode, scrambling to fill it or compromising on what you really want simply to get a warm body in a chair.