Advice on Hiring Your First Employee

Employing Your First Member of Staff: Where Do You Start?

The UK is an enterprising nation, and our business appetite continues to grow with each passing year.

In 2018, the number of new UK startups exceeded 660,000 - a record high and a 5.7% increase on 2017. Self-employment has also been rising rapidly. The number of self-employed workers in the UK now stands at 4.8 million (2017), a significant increase from 3.3 million in 2001 (ONS).

And according to a briefing paper by The House of Commons Library, in 2018 there were 5.7 million private sector businesses in the UK, which represents a 63% increase since 2000.

Interestingly, the proportion of UK businesses with employees has fallen since 2000 from around a third, to around a quarter, which is attributed to the growth in self-employment.

It’s apparent that the UK is experiencing a slight shift from traditional employment to more flexible working options, such as contractual and freelance work. However, sooner or later even the most dedicated solo entrepreneur requires a little extra help, and for some, that comes in the form of full-time staff.

Hiring a First Member of Staff: Where to Start

A UBC customer based at our Rutherford House offices in Warrington recently contacted our Centre Manager, Sam Snelson to ask for advice on starting the employment process.

Our customer runs a successful virtual assistance business, and combines remote back-office support to local businesses in addition to running regular workshops and speaker engagements.

As a member of the UK small business community Enterprise Nation, a partner of UBC, Sam was able to request advice from Enterprise Nation to help get the ball rolling.

“Our customer was literally starting from scratch and needed help from every angle, such as recruitment, HMRC, and payroll,” says Sam. “I contacted Polly Dhaliwal who steered us in the right direction and gave us everything we needed.”

Polly shared this resource, which offers information from HR experts on budget-friendly ways to find the perfect candidate, interviewing techniques, and onboarding processes.

In it, Wendy Sneddon, Enterprise Nation adviser member and founder of HR advisory business Lodgestone Lounge, explains that taking on employees should allow you to share tasks and free up time for growth and development.

“For all entrepreneurs, the first employee will be the most important hiring decision they make and the hardest. You’re bringing someone in to do your job or part of it. In order to make the right decision, you need to be really clear about the job you are hiring for.”

Sneddon recommends breaking down each of your specific tasks on a grid. Along the top will be tasks such as finance, marketing and sales, operations, IT, and human resources. The left-hand axis are the skill levels required for each task, such as strategic (making plans for growth); management; and day to day.

Once you’ve filled in the grid you can start to understand how much time is allocated to each group of tasks, and which type of employee you will need.

Further information on hiring your first employee can be found in the Enterprise Nation member zone. Log-in here and watch this HR webinar, then head to the ‘human resources’ category at the top of the page for more insights around hiring your first employee including how to motivate staff, creating a workplace pension, and so on. 

Not a member of Enterprise Nation? UBC clients get exclusive discounts on membership. Find out more and sign up here.

Once you’ve become a member, you can access free 30-minute sessions with HR experts via the Enterprise Nation platform. You should also speak with an accountant to gain advice on the key points you need to consider - again you can connect with accountancy advisors via the platform by browsing profiles and connecting with each individual.

Head to to get started!