Most small businesses only have one member of staff, study reveals

Almost two thirds of UK small and medium-sized businesses only employ one person, according to research.

Many companies had set up because they were confident they could keep staff costs to a minimum, according to a survey by outsourcing website

Findings by the Department of Business, Skills and Innovation also reveal that businesses which only employ one person had doubled in number between 2000 and 2012.

The study of 2,500 businesses finds 72 per cent of respondents saying that they are more confident of keeping staff costs to a minimum as they are able to employ people as and when they needed, suggesting businesses today are more willing to employ people for short-term jobs.

Some 41 per cent of businesses are able to hire people for short-term work because of the availability of a remote workforce on the internet, allowing them to take on accountants, legal advice, marketing and sales staff, as well as e-commerce site programmers, and design and branding services with confidence.

Bill Little, European director of says the survey shows that it is easier for businesses today to set up without worrying about having expensive staff costs that can drain resources and ultimately lead to a quick bankruptcy.

He adds, ‘Yet they are still putting money into the labour market, hiring at least one member of staff and hiring others for short-term work, often over the internet.

‘Many of these business owners are part-time workers themselves, setting up their business with the security of having a steady income, and then only going it alone when they are sure the business will be successful. They are able to hire staff as and when they need them gives them the flexible to control costs and ultimately succeed.’

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Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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