Employment Essentials for Small Business Owners


This article provides a quick and easy to understand checklist for new businesses on how to employ people and what the law requires of you, but also how to be a good employer.
Employees are the heart of a business & the most valuable asset, especially in a smaller company. Some would even argue your business is your employees. Thus it is important to make sure the impact they have is positive and they are treated well, helping you increase your productivity, while also abiding by the law and employment regulations.

1. Choosing what type of employee you need 

You can choose to employ permanent employees or hire a contractor/freelancer. There are different types of employment agreements such as full-time, part-time, fixed-term, freelance, consultant, and contract, all with their own legal requirements.
Find out more about employment types in this article

2. Successfully recruiting 

A clear job description & seamless recruiting  
Regardless which type you plan to employ, first you need to create a clear job description. This is vital to get relevant applications from people that have the skills and qualifications you require.
Keep a record of each applicant throughout the process, including strengths, weaknesses & other notes. It will help you select the best candidate when the interviews are done. You can do the hiring process yourself or you can hire a recruiter to do it for you.
Avoiding discrimination in the workplace  
Please note it is against the law to discriminate employees based on age, race, sex, marriage, disability, sexual orientation, and religion.

3. Inform HMRC 

When you start hiring, you need to register as an employer with HMRC. It is important to note you cannot pay your staff before doing this and also you cannot register more than 2 months before you employ and start paying staff.

4. Obtain employers liability insurance 

The law requires you to have employers’ liability insurance and it must cover for at least £5 million, coming from an authorised insurer. It is designed to allow for employee compensation if they are injured at work and protects your business if you are taken to court. You also need to display a copy of the employers’ liability insurance certificate in your workplace. The cost of this insurance is based on several factors such as: type of business, number of employees, and previous insurance claims history.

5. Draft the employment contract 

If this is your first contract, it is advisable to seek professional legal advice in order to make sure all is in order. The employment contract needs to be signed by both parties, both you and your future employee.

6. Make sure every employee has a National Insurance Number 

You also have to ensure every employee has a National Insurance Number, as contributions need to be paid and tax payments need to be recorded against their name.

7. Bookkeeping: keep accurate tax records, remember key dates and tasks & set up a payroll system 

Legally, you are required to keep accurate tax records for six years. They need to be safe, secure and easy to access when needed. For this, you can use an accounting software or hire an accountant who can do that for you.
It is also advisable you log in to HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) PAYE Online service to send payroll reports to HMRC, access tax codes and notices about your employees, appeal a penalty if you get one, get alerts from HMRC for late reporting/paying or any mistakes in the monthly reports.
For setting up a payroll system you can either do it yourself or hire an accountant to deal with this and with your tax records. Usually accounting software is used and it is quite a painless process. It helps you stay compliant, pay your employees on time and file reports for HMRC.

8. Understand the rights of your employees & keep a file for each employee 

Keep an up to date record of all your employees, including full name, address, contact details, emergency contact details, tax details, a signed copy of the employment contract, and any other important information about them. They need to be kept for 6 years just like the tax records.
If you are unsure what information you need and are allowed to collect about your employees, contact HMRC.

Funding Options for Your Business

Finding The Best Option 

There are a multitude of options available when it comes to financing your new business idea, either as a sole trader or as a limited company. You can choose between business bank loans, loans specifically for start-ups, personal investment, peer-to-peer lending, equity investment, crowdfunding or asking your family and friends if they have the means to help.
Ideally the best funding option is the one you can afford to pay back and has good repayment terms, provides enough for your project and you overall feel confident and comfortable about it. There is no universal ‘best option’, you need to find what would work best for you.


Personal Investment 

Putting your own money into your business can be an easier and faster way of seeing your business idea come to life. This is applicable whether you plan on operating as a sole trader or as a limited company. However, it is also a test of your confidence and commitment to your idea. While this does not require an application or business plan, it is recommended that you have one to ensure you have thought it through.
Some drawbacks to this are; you might not have as much money to invest into it compared to getting a loan or a grant, and the money you put in might be your emergency savings. This could impact you in the long run, as well as change your lifestyle and day to day budget.
Always keep your business money separate from your personal finances, evaluate the risks thoroughly, be careful not to lose assets in the worst case scenario and know what the limits are.

Friends and family 

If you don’t have the personal means to invest into your business, you might have thought about asking your friends and family. However, the key thing here is to be careful not to affect and deteriorate your relationships in the process. For this option it doesn’t matter if you would like to be self-employed or operate as a limited company.
Always be honest and clear about how much money you need and what the repayment plan would be and make it formal by putting things in writing. This would help you avoid misunderstandings in the future.

Business loans 

Banks might be willing to lend you money for your business. However, many are wary of new businesses and self-employed ventures and would much rather prefer lending to an established limited company. To apply for a business loan you would need a detailed business plan, sales and revenue projections, a cash flow forecast and accounts and tax returns.

Start Up Loans 

If the banks refuse to lend you money for your new business, you can always have a look at start up loans. They are aimed exactly at new entrepreneurs that have been trading for less than two years and are given to both sole traders and limited companies. Additionally, they are supported by the Government, allowing you to borrow between £500-£25,000 over one to five years. These loans are provided by the Start Up Loan Company and its delivery partners throughout the UK. They can also help you write a business plan, prepare your financial projections, while also offering financial advice & mentoring.

Peer-to-peer lending 

Peer-to-peer lending works just like a regular loan but the main difference is the money comes from individuals that have invested their money into the scheme. Usually P2P lenders are online only and might offer lower overheads and good interest rates.

Business grants 

Depending on the type of business you have, you might be eligible for business grants. If your company would meet an urgent demand, solve a problem, or improve social mobility, you might be eligible to apply and receive financial help. They are highly competitive and you need to research where to get it from as it might be offered by the government, your local authority or local growth hub.

Equity Investment 

In the case of equity investment, business angels or venture capitalists offer financial investment in exchange for shares of your company. You would also benefit from expertise and industry contacts, in addition to the money. To attract investors your company should have the potential to grow in the future and deliver good value for the investors’ money. One drawback is that you might not end up the only decision maker in the company and that you might have to share its control.


Crowdfunding is when people need money for their business idea and turn to the online sphere and other people for help. There are platforms specifically for this where almost everyone can advertise their business idea and plan. However, only a few are successful when crowdfunding, especially that you need to raise all the money you requested or you risk getting none of it. Success also requires you to build an audience or a community and to offer them gifts or the product when the campaign ends.

The Basics of Seed Funding

What is seed funding? 

Despite the varying terminology, seed funding, seed capital or seed money are all the same form of investment. It is essentially the first official equity funding stage and typically represents official money that a business raises from an outside investor in return for a stake in the company.
Seed funding tends to be done at the very start of a businesses life and is the early financial support which initially helps to grow the business in the early stages to inject much needed funds into the project. Almost every company will get an initial investment through seed funding, however it is becoming more common in recent times with new start-up businesses cropping up.

What is seed funding used for? 

Seed funding can be used for a wide variety of things and is ultimately designed for a company to do with as it sees fit. Some investors will stipulate what they wish for the money to go towards, whereas others will not.
Seed funding is generally used to help project the company into the next round of funding or to finance it’s first steps including the likes of product development, market research and much more so that it is in a position where it can generate its own income. With the right dedication, business strategy and perseverance the company should hopefully start to grow from this initial investment.

Who can invest via seed funding? 

Almost anyone who has a bit of money can invest via seed funding from family and friends to founders and more. Many companies tend to prefer to have investors who are known and are close to them, however, outside investors, such as venture capital and angel investment can also be seed funders.
Angel investors are those who tend to invest in start-ups and are classed as a riskier venture as there is no previous track record of the business so far. In exchange for their investment, they tend to expect an equity stake in the company. Venture capital financing is a private equity capital that can be provided at various stages or funding rounds.
Many start-up businesses tend to get their seed funding through other projects too such as via crowd funding systems and Kickstarter among others.

What do seed funders get? 

Seed funding is ultimately just a stage of funding rather than a method or way of funding. They will usually invest in a part of the company so they will usually benefit if they decide to sell their shares to another investor or from any of the stock equity should the business decide to go public. If a company has crowdfunded, the business could have various offerings for their investors including bonuses for their investments or even early access to certain services of products depending on what the business offers.