AllBusiness Looks for Small Business HR Needs Through Sweepstakes

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Small business owners often face a tough time handling human resources issues like finding, recruiting and training employees. Smelling a database-building opportunity, AllBusiness.com Inc. yesterday introduced a sweepstakes contest for small business owners that pays the cost of an employee for a year.


AllBusiness and its four promotion partners -- RecruitUSA, Headlight.com, InfoLink Screening Services and Automatic Data Processing -- have a simple proposition: in return for demographic information from contest participants, they will offer the winning small business owner a salary subsidy and free HR services.


"This promotion is very self-qualifying in that people who are obviously likely to go after it are small-business owners," said Scott Waltz, chief marketing officer of AllBusiness. "The idea is that it brings visibility to the range of services that are available on our site."


Live since September 1999, AllBusiness offers content and commerce for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The San Francisco company on Feb. 1 agreed to be acquired by network broadcaster NBC's NBCi online division for $225 million.


The 'Win a Free Employee for a Year' promotion is styled on a previous one by AllBusiness that promised the sweepstakes winner free advertising for a year on the American City Business Journal's range of local editions.


Running through April 27 with a random draw on May 5, the new promotion offers a slew of freebies to the winner. AllBusiness will subsidize an employee's annual salary up to $50,000, RecruitUSA will offer 13 weeks of unlimited job postings, and InfoLink will run free background checks.


In addition, Headlight.com will offer three, free online training courses and Automatic Data Processing will extend a free, yearlong stint of payroll, tax filing and direct-deposit services for firms with up to 20 employees.


Links across all pages on AllBusiness and ads in six city eitions of the American City Business Journal will alert small business owners to the promotion.


Visitors click on the promotion link to reach the sweepstakes page. To enter, the user has to yield name, company name and type of business, e-mail address and zip code. He or she can then opt-in to receive e-mailed information from AllBusiness.com and its promotion partners.


After entering the pertinent information, the user is then taken to the AllBusiness home page by default.


"It's been up for a couple of days and we've already got over 750 registrants," Waltz said.


The HR process can be tough on small businesses looking to hire talent. Companies operating out of home or under 100 employees - the U. S. government's definition of small businesses - currently have to rely on classifieds, tapping peers or leveraging employees.


"I think the challenge with the Web, in general, and this extends to the HR issues, is that the resources are not geared to small-business needs and we're basically providing a service that filters out the resources available online and optimize them to reflect the needs of small businesses," Waltz said.
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