By Daniel Hunter

A survey of 2500 UK small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) set up this year found that 65% of businesses only employ one person and many had set up because they were confident they could keep staff costs to a minimum.

The survey, released by Freelancer.co.uk, the a business outsourcing website, backs up findings by the Department of Business, Skills and Innovation that found businesses which only employ one person had doubled in number between 2000 and 2012.

The survey found that a striking 72% said that they were more confident of keeping staff costs to a minimum as they were able to employ people as and when they needed, suggesting the businesses today were more willing to employ people for short-term jobs.

The survey found that 41% of businesses were able to hire people for short-term work because of the availability of a remote workforce on the internet, allowing them to hire accountants, legal advice, marketing and sales staff, as well as ecommerce site programmers, and design and branding services with confidence.

Of those in the survey who used an outsourcing site to hire workers, 85% said they did so because it offered security and protection by ensuring that all monies were held in an escrow account and not paid out until the freelancer has completed a job, while all the freelancers they hired had reviews from other businesses which ensured a reliable track record and quality of work. The same number of respondents said the internet gave them access to a reliable work force that they wouldn't have without the internet.

The survey is backed up by Freelancer.co.uk own figures, which has shown a 43% increase in registrations this year.

36% said they set up the business before they left their main employment, while 25% went part-time first, backing up recent ONS statistics that part-time workers make up an third of the workforce.

“The survey shows that it is easier for businesses to set up without worrying about having expensive staff costs that can drain resources and ultimately lead to a quick bankruptcy. 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,” said Bill Little, European Director of Freelancer.co.uk.

“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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