Helping small business owners hire for growth

Success can mean something different to every small business owner.

But for many, it can mean enjoying the kind of recognition and turnover that requires taking on more staff just to keep up with demand.

There are about 4.8 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, accounting for 99.9% of all private-sector businesses and employing an estimated 14.1 million people.

Almost all of these businesses have no more than 49 employees, with only 0.6 per cent employing between 50 and 249 people. This works out at an average of three employees per small business.

So what keeps small businesses from hiring staff? Many times, it comes down to a lack of time to devote to the process, or fear of what is involved in hiring.

Sole traders and micro business owners are often so busy keeping their businesses going and managing all the tasks associated with the business that they might find it difficult to make the time to recruit and hire staff – let alone go through the process of actually hiring someone.

But taking on employees may not be as difficult as it may seem. There are resources available through the government and private sector’s Business in You initiative that outline the key steps to take – from understanding employment law to paying employees – including an online guide to taking on an employee for the first time.

The Business in You website points visitors to support for companies facing the prospect of hiring. From a single link on Business in You, visitors can find helpful information from the government on everything from help with recruiting to checking employees’ right to work.

Specifically for small businesses, support is also available through Jobcentre Plus offices, including the Small Business Recruitment Service, which offers individual support for small business and access to advisers who know the local market. And with the recent release of Universal Job Match, businesses can advertise vacancies across the UK.

For small businesses worried about the cost of hiring or worried about being able to meet the responsibilities of being an employer, suitable options may include taking on an apprentice or an intern, or taking up a wage incentive for hiring a young person. These options may offer a solution for budgetary concerns or an opportunity to take someone on for a defined period of time, perhaps to test the waters.

Since winning the Local Business Accelerators competition last year, Ilkley Brewery in Yorkshire has seen continued growth. Since this time last year, it has doubled production and increased its staff from five employees to 12.

Taking on employees does not need to be a complex process. With the resources and tools at your disposal, you can find the help you need to meet your staffing needs.

For more information on hiring staff, visit Business in You.

Second accelerators campaign well under way

The second Local Business Accelerators campaign, run by the Newspaper Society and backed by the multimedia KM Group and Prime Minister David Cameron, is well under way.

Three Kent winners – Bertie’s Wood Fuel, FooARage and Milk Chic/Armed and Glamorous – are being mentored by experts from Reeves, the accounting and business advisory firm.

The overall winner, which goes forward to the regional final with the prospect of help from Dragon’s Den Deborah Meaden, will be announced in June.

Mr Cameron said: “Last year’s Local Business Accelerators campaign was a phenomenal success and showed what a huge range of strong, growing businesses there are across the country.

It is a huge credit to the papers taking part that they are offering real support to their local businesses. They play a vital role in local communities and are uniquely placed to boost their local economy in this way.

“Last year’s national winner, Ilkley Brewery, has gone from strength to strength, growing its sales by 140%, and I hope this year’s winners will go on to enjoy similar success. I would like to congratulate all the local winners and wish them all the best for the national final.”

Ebox Media of Cranbrook, an online house sign business, was the first Kent winner, going on to become a national finalist. Founder Dan Clay has paid tribute to the benefits his business gained from the scheme. “We have seen increased sales from Kentonline and the KM Group,” he said. “It was fabulous exposure.”

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