At some point, nearly every small business is faced with the need to take on more staff and although it’s usually essential if you want to grow your business, taking the leap into employing someone for the first time can be a daunting experience. There are all sorts of ways to find candidates, everything from putting an advertisement in your window or on local shop notice boards to newspapers, Job Centres and recruitment agencies. Personal recommendations can be particularly useful, but it’s a good idea to have a choice of candidates.
Read the Business Wales guides on Contract Types and Employer Responsibilities (UK Government website).
Always remember that you have legal, moral and emotional responsibilities for the people you employ – they have their own commitments and financial needs. Make sure you understand the employment laws and your obligations, for example paying their tax through PAYE, working conditions, proper health and safety training, holiday provision and so on. As an employer, you must also take a leadership role. Show you have a clear vision of success. Show the leadership qualities of creativity, focus, enjoyment in your work and motivation – and your employees will react positively. The trick is to show this kind of leadership even when you’re feeling ‘down’ yourself. Read the UK Government guide on Employing Staff for the First Time (UK Government website).
At different times in your business life you’ll probably find yourself playing many roles. Let’s look at how these roles work and why relationships, how you deal with them and the roles you’ll need to play are so important.
|YOUR ROLE||WHO YOU ARE RELATING TO||WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO ACHIEVE||THE SKILLS YOU’LL NEED|
|LISTENER||Your customers||To understand their needs so that you can sell them what they want||Being able to ask the right questions, listen and manage your emotions. Selling skills|
|LEADER||Your employees||High levels of performance and motivation||
Influencing/ inspiring others.
|NEGOTIATOR||Your suppliers||A fair deal for both parties||Bargaining skills|
|PERSUADER||Business professionals||Securing their advice and help||The ability to persuade. The power to influence others. Presentation skills.|
|PARTNER||Business Partners||Working together to build a successful business.||Mutual support and encouragement. Agreeing joint objectives. Ability to compromise.|
|NETWORKER||Multiple people and businesses||Opportunities to increase the success of your business||Ability to converse in a friendly way. Ability to share experience.|
|JUGGLER||Family and business colleagues||Their support and encouragement.||Recognising your own needs. Learning to ask for help, and accepting it. Planning. Striking a good balance between work and personal life.|
Whatever else you do, make sure you have a life outside work. In the early days of a business, you need to put the hours in to make it work, but you also need to analyse the quantity and quality of what you do in the day. Now that you’re your own boss, you need to be disciplined – there’s no-one telling you what to do. But beware the danger of business taking over. Your family and friends have their needs too. The trickiest part of juggling the work – life balance comes in the early days. You’re moving into unknown territory as your own boss, you’re focused on getting your business off the ground. You’ll be tempted to work late into the night, get up early and work all through the weekend. To some extent that’s inevitable – but don’t let it become an obsession. Your family and friends’ support and encouragement can make all the difference, particularly when things aren’t going as well as you hoped or you’re snowed under by work. They’ll understand the pressures and make allowances, but only so far. Find time for them, enjoy your personal or family life – and you’ll have the huge benefit of their support. Read the Business Wales guide on Being a Responsible Employer (Business Wales website).
Once you take on an employee, you have responsibilities under the UK’s employment law. You’ll need to go into these in some detail with your business adviser, but your basic duties are:
- You must agree gross pay, including any overtime rates, and working hours when you offer the job – and don’t forget the law on the minimum wage
- You’ll need to register yourself as an employer with your local Inland Revenue office.
- You’re responsible for making statutory deductions for Income Tax and National Insurance from your employee’s pay and you must make an employer’s contribution to National Insurance
- You’ll be legally responsible for Health and Safety at work and must assess any potential risks and hazards to ensure a safe working environment
- You’ll need to take out Employer’s Liability Insurance – an insurance broker will help you
- Your employees will be entitled to four weeks paid holiday every year
- Don’t forget Statutory Sick Pay – if an employee is off sick for up to three working days, you don’t need to pay them. But if they are off sick for four or more days, you must provide sick pay for up to 28 weeks.
- And you’ll be responsible for ensuring your company follows the rules on maternity rights and pay, parental leave and discrimination issues.