A small business is only as good as its employees. As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to hire the right people who share your vision so that you can take your business to the next level.

While the hiring process can be daunting, it’s important to get it right. According to a recent Robert Half survey, 81 percent of small business owners report making a bad hire, which is a mistake that costs valuable time and resources to fix.

By putting the time and effort into finding the right people, you’ll be paid back a thousand times over in high employee morale, a better reputation in the community, great customer relationships, and increased revenue. Here are eight tips to help you successfully navigate the hiring process and avoid the pitfalls.

1. Assess your culture

Your small business has a unique way of operating, which is influenced by you and the people you hire. A candidate may have all the right skills on paper, but if they’re not a good culture fit, then they’re probably not a good addition to your team.

Culture goes far beyond a flexible work schedule or a pinball machine in the break room. It’s comprised of your company’s mission and values, as well as the personalities of individuals who thrive in your environment and their mindset. Think about what your culture is now. Then, ask yourself where you want it to be. Decide whether you want to take your culture in a new direction or if you’re eager to stay the course.

2. Write an accurate job description

Before you sit down to write the description, make an inventory of the job’s actual duties. It’s tempting to describe it in ideal terms or without a sufficient understanding of what it actually entails. After all, your goal is to attract the best talent possible.

However, failing to write an honest description is a surefire strategy for wasting everyone’s time. Don’t worry about competing with larger competitors for the same talent pool. Some candidates appreciate the autonomy and flexibility provided by smaller companies, so make sure to end your ad with a list of your unique benefits.

3. Advertise your opening

There are numerous opportunities for getting the word out about your position. Consider which of the following best suits your goals:

  • Company website. If your business website doesn’t already have a “jobs” section, create a page and make sure to keep it updated.
  • Social media. LinkedIn is a good resource for spreading the word. Also, consider announcing the job on your company’s Facebook or Twitter pages.
  • Network. Reach out to people in your network. Sometimes the best hires are found through personal referrals.
  • Agencies. Recruiting agencies often have a wide reach and are able to find candidates you can’t. Keep in mind they often charge high fees, so you may want to limit their use.
  • Job boards and Craigslist. Some websites charge a fee, but it’s far less than what agencies cost.
  • Employees. Referral programs are a great way to motivate your current employees to be proactive in helping you find the perfect candidate.

4. Create a short-list of applicants

When you’re fielding incoming résumés daily, sorting through a growing collection to create a short-list of applicants can feel overwhelming. Avoid the hassle by leveraging one of the many recruiting software apps like Jazz and Workable.

With everything managed from a central location, you’ll be better prepared to evaluate applicants’ qualifications, work experience, and industry background. To screen applicants further, consider checking social media profiles and other online data.

5. Prepare for interviewing

One most important steps in the hiring process, it’s not surprising that a range of interview techniques have arisen over the years.

Standard interviews focus on a candidate’s goals, successes, strengths, and weaknesses. Behavioral interviews assess how a candidate will function in the workplace with questions that ask for concrete examples of how they’ve performed in previous jobs.

Whatever your style, decide your strategy, make a list of questions, and then tailor them to each candidate after reviewing their résumé.

6. Trust your instincts

While a candidate’s qualifications and personality might seem perfect, make sure to check your gut before making your final selection. Hiring the wrong person can be costly in terms of wasted time and emotional distress. The right person will almost certainly be a great fit for you team as well as ticking all the important boxes.

If you’re still wondering about the best choice, consider the candidates who exhibited the most passion. Ask yourself how prepared they seemed for the interview and if their answers displayed enthusiasm. The preparation candidates put into their interviews says a lot about their work ethic.

7. Check references

It doesn’t take long to reach out to a candidate’s references and learn a little more about them before taking the final step. References remain one of the most useful sources of information about candidates. They are best done by phone and with someone who has managed your candidate.

This method will give you the biggest opportunity to read between the lines when asking questions. Before you get started, though, avoid any legal risks by reviewing the questions you’re not allowed to ask.

8. Follow an on-boarding process

When it comes to successful hiring, consistency is the key to success. In addition to following the same steps for finding and evaluating candidates, make sure to be consistent when it comes to on-boarding. Your goal is to start your new employee off on the right foot.

If you don’t have an HR person who deals with new hires, then develop your own system. From sending an offer letter to orientation and training materials, create a process that sets high expectations about your company’s professionalism. Research shows that the retention rate of new hires is increased by as much as 40 percent by a great orientation program.