This is the first in a series of blogs devoted to small businesses interested in background checks.

“Background checks? Why? My business is small, and we don’t do too much hiring. Besides, I’ve always hired great people. And I know most of the people I hire, or they come to me referred by someone I know.”

The above could be said by many small business owners and managers. It’s common for them to think that background screening is a tool that only larger businesses use, especially since most small businesses don’t think they contribute much to our national employment rates. But look at the facts about small businesses. An article in Business Insider shares statistics from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA):

• There are 28 million small businesses in the United States, outnumbering corporations 1162 to 1.
• Small businesses employ 57 percent of the country’s private workforce.
• Sixty to eighty percent of new jobs come from small businesses.

Some of the reasons we’ve heard from small business owners as to why they don’t do background checks include:

• The price: many owners believe doing a background check will be cost prohibitive.
• Lack of knowledge about background screening and the belief that they themselves will have to know how to do a background check.
• Intimidating paperwork to complete with a background screening company and too many legal requirements.

Many small businesses hire based on referrals. But how well does the person doing the referral really know the person they are recommending you hire? Is it a case of, “My barber’s son recently graduated from college with a degree in your field and is looking for a job. Here’s his contact information.” Most people like to be helpful and if they can help you find someone to fill a position, they’ve done a good deed. But what happens to your business if a referral is (inadvertently) a bad one?

While the initial costs of performing a background check may seem high at first, the consequences of making a bad hire can be even more costly. There’s the costs are both tangible and intangible, and include reduced productivity, negatively impacted customer relations and lowered employee morale. And then there’s the big issue – corporate liability. If your new employee has a criminal record and something happens, your business may wind up with a negative public image, and may even be found legally liable.

After reading this, think about it again. Can your business afford NOT to do background screening?