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2014 shaping into crucial year for small businesses

Date posted:  2/4/14 08:15:00 AM There's going to be less people looking for employment as the economy continues to surge.

It's not quite back to the levels seen before the burst of the housing bubble, but the nation's economy is improving and unemployment rates are falling.

According to Forbes, 2014 is turning into a crucial year for small businesses‡ because of the economy's changing landscape. While social networking tools have made it easier for a company to reach a broad landscape, there are still difficult obstacles to avoid in order to run a successful venture.

One of the hardest topics to broach for small business owners is how to retain talented employees. With the economy improving, there are more options for people in the workforce, leaving companies scratching their heads at ways to entice a stellar workforce. As it is, a better economy means more options for potential employees.

"Talent is going to be a little harder to come by," Steve King, a partner at the consulting firm Emergent Research, told Forbes.

Show me the money...or something else

While money talks, it's not always the be-all, end-all for the consummate professional. In order to lure and keep a talented workforce, employers must consider improving their benefit packages and the amenities they offer. King said it's crucial to consider presenting perks like flexible hours and the chance to telecommute.

Many of the top companies in Tampa, Fla., are beginning to realize this by taking different avenues to retain‡ employees, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

For example, telecommunications company Modern Enterprise Solutions provides their employees with a full basketball court, an on-site mixed martial arts gym, yoga classes, a weight room, locker rooms, laundry service and free healthy meals.

"Those things start to make a difference to employees," King said.

This type of company attracts the workers who want a fun, easygoing environment during business hours.

Meanwhile, Bouchard Insurance is finding it easier to keep some of its best employees by giving a wide variety of options, because not everyone works the same way.

"We acknowledge the generational differences in the workplace and know that work/life balance and service to community may be more important to some employees, while others look for fun in the workplace and recognition of their successes," the company told Tampa Bay Times.

At Wallace Welch & Willingham, a St. Petersburg-based insurance firm, the company participated in several surveys and learned that employees wanted better benefits and less emphasis placed on time clocks.