As a small business owner, it can be daunting to recruit employees when you're competing with bigger entities. There are some perks you simply can't offer based on the size of your company.

When you're competing with businesses offering subsidized cafeterias, in-office gyms, and on-site child care, there's simply nothing you can do to match those perks. However, that does not mean you have no options.

As the owner of your own business, you have the freedom to be creative. That's something bigger companies can't do as easily because what they offer to one employee, they generally have to offer to everyone. If you get creative, you may be able to come up with a package that appeals to a potential employee more than what the big companies can offer.

A woman sits across from a man and woman.

A small company can offer things bigger companies may not be able to. Image source: Getty Images.

1. Schedule flexibility

In my days editing small, local daily newspapers, I was able to hire and retain employees by being flexible in scheduling. Some employees worked traditional shifts while others worked around parenting responsibilities, classes, and other obligations.

My being flexible kept some of these staff members from leaving for higher-paying jobs at bigger papers because they did not want to work a rigid schedule. In addition, my flexibility and willingness to work around employees' other needs made my staff more willing to work non-traditional hours when the job required it.

2. Offer upside

If you need to lure a key employee who has options at larger companies it may make sense to cut him or her in on the action. This could mean profit sharing or it could be an opportunity for a person to earn a share of ownership. Obviously, giving away either profits or a stake in the company is a serious decision to make, but these are tools you can use if the person you're going after is worth it.

3. Be a mentor

A large company may have training programs available for new employees, but it probably does not offer many employees the opportunity to be mentored by the owner. As a small business owner, you can offer to hire someone and help him or her gain the skills needed to someday run their own business.

This may appeal to someone who has aspirations beyond their current position. As the owner, you can expose an employee to every aspect of running the company making him or her a more attractive candidate for a bigger job or to one day go out on their own.

Be open-minded

If you interview potential employees who may get offers from bigger companies use every tool at your disposal. Take the time to get to know what is important to the potential hire and make him or her an offer that's customized to them.

Make it clear that you will value what they value. That may be flexibility, career development, compensation, or something else entirely. Listen and talk with the candidate in order to show them the upside in working for a small company.

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