Keeping a sinking business afloat is probably one of the toughest challenges that any entrepreneur will face. It requires a lot of stamina, resilience and smart moves. One of these moves is hiring interns. Unfortunately, there's a misconception that interns are reserved for large companies or corporations in a good position. In reality, any business can hire interns whenever they need extra help.

Here are five ways how interns could save your sinking business.

1. New ideas

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Because interns are still in college, they are on the good side of modern industry thinking and new practices. Additionally, interns are not afraid to try out these new concepts, and this may just be the bold move that your business needs.

For instance, social media is a vital part of any business strategy. Interns are more adept at new social media strategies than you may hope to be, mostly because new areas of study target social media marketing. This could be what your business needs.

So when you hire an intern, be sure to let them know that you value their opinion. Encourage them to present ideas and participate in meetings.

2. Affordable value

Let's face it, the last thing your sinking business can afford right now is a new employee. Hiring means paying another salary and benefits that can be quite expensive. You don't necessarily have to pay interns. They are working for college credit. But if you do choose to do so, you can pay them an hourly rate or a stipend that is significantly less than a full year's pay.

For interns, now is the opportunity to work at a business while still in school. This in itself equals the pay. They can network, practice what they've learned, find out what it's like in the industry -- there may even be a job offer from the company after they graduate. Additionally, helping a struggling business back on its feet will be a great sticking point on their resume. It is a win-win situation for your business and the interns.

3. Energy

Your business needs a lot of things: money, clients, a lifeline. But what it could need is a new sense of energy and passion. Interns want to impress you -- they have a lot at stake, including references, grades and overall experience. This drive to succeed could spread positive energy throughout your office and remind you why you started your business in the first place.

4. They can accomplish the impossible

A good intern will work for your business as if it were their own. Because of this, the "impossible task" is a challenge as opposed to a hindrance. Never underestimate their abilities, and give them the resources they need to follow through on projects. If your business is tanking, your interns may see this as a call to action and do what they can to bring your business back.

5. Interns make good employees

If your sinking business makes a complete turnaround, hiring the interns who helped you could be the best decision you've made. By this point, the intern will have learned the ins and outs of your business. They know the company's history and what practices don't work.

Furthermore, hiring an intern as a full-time employee allows your business to recover without making many internal changes. You've already interviewed them, they've already proven themselves, and now all you have to do is pay them. Once they graduate, they won't want to work for free -- they did that already.

What not to do

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You will have to set professional boundaries and rules should you decide to take on interns.

  • Don't give the impression that your business will never recover. Frame your difficulties as challenges, not failures.
  • Don't take advantage of an intern -- they are more than coffee fetchers. They are technically an employee, there to learn, work and help you.
  • Don't talk down to an intern. You may be stressed about your business, but insulting their intelligence if they don't know something you do could ruin their motivation.
  • Don't ignore an intern's idea. It may not be the best, but dismissing it could discourage them.
  • Balance fresh energy and new ideas with tradition and wisdom.
  • Never enter an internship expecting them to know how to save your business. Instead, encourage solution-forward thinking.

Conclusion

Hiring an intern or two could be exactly what your business needs. They are an affordable source of workforce with a fresh take on old ideas. Use them to help implement new strategies, problem solve and give your business a competitive edge.