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5 things you should do before you hire your first member of staff

Sole Trader 2

Lizzie Tasker Blog, Employment Law, Employers...


No one said running your own business is easy, there’s undoubtedly going to be long hours and plenty of hard work involved. Once you’re established as a sole-trader, the thought of doubling your headcount and relinquishing control over part/s of your business might be a daunting prospect, not to mention the additional responsibilities and costs that come with being an employer.

However, if you get to the stage where you’re not able to meet demand, your quality is slipping, or you find yourself turning down opportunities to expand because you simply can’t do it all, then it could be time to hire.

decide WHO TO HIRE

Whether you provide a service or are a master craftsperson, it’s likely that you went into business because you’re an expert in your field. But, running a business requires a whole host of other skills too – as a sole trader you’re in charge of accounts, marketing and everything in between. Consider any gaps in your own knowledge; where can someone else best add value?

The next step we’d recommend is to put together a job description and a person specification; these aren’t mandatory and there’s no specific format to follow, but it’s good practice and will help when you come to recruit. A job description sets out the overall objective of the role and day to day responsibilities, and a person specification sets out the experience, skills and any qualifications which you deem to be either essential or ideal for the role.

think about HOW TO HIRE

So, you’ve decided you want to hire – but how do you go about it?

If you have a premises it might be as simple as putting a sign up, or you could advertise online using a job board, social media, or get in touch with your local job centre. It’s worth doing some research to see where similar jobs are being advertised.

Alternatively, you could consider using a recruitment agency. Many recruiters, like ourselves, only charge a fee if they find your perfect candidate and they take the hassle out of writing adverts and shortlisting.

Give thought to how you intend to interview too, you want to ensure the process is meaningful and thorough without being too lengthy, as this is off-putting for candidates. Be prepared to make a decision quickly to avoid losing out on your first choice. 


You need to ensure you offer a competitive pay rate, but that’s just one element of a package. Other benefits such as additional holidays, staff discounts, training, pensions etc. can all be combined to create an offering that works for you and is attractive to potential employees. 

The term ‘employer branding’ doesn’t just apply to big corporate firms, whatever your size, it’s never too soon to start thinking about your employer brand – especially if you have big plans to grow in the future. It encompasses your culture, work environment and leadership style as well as the more ‘material’ benefits we talked about above.

In the same way that you think about how your brand appeals to your potential customers, think about how you want to appear to potential employees too.


And last, but certainly not least, there are a number of important legal points which must be ticked off before you hire anyone. The government website is a good starting point to further understand what is required when you become an employer for the first time but, depending on your knowledge, it might be helpful to obtain professional advice at this initial stage to avoid any costly issues down the line. 

  • Check that the pay rate you’re going to offer meets National Minimum/Living Wage
  • Check that anyone you’re going to employ has the right to work in the UK
  • Ensure you have employers’ liability insurance
  • Register as an employer with HMRC
  • Provide an automatic-enrolment compliant workplace pension scheme
  • Understand what details you have to provide to an employee in writing and by when 
  • Consider your Health and Safety responsibilities

And it doesn’t stop there, as an employer you’ll have an ongoing duty of care too. It's worthwhile to take some time to at least familiarise yourself with the basics of employment law. 

We hope that your journey as an employer is straightforward, but it’s always good to prepared.

**Please note this blog is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for taking your own legal advice**