By Gerard Murnaghan, VP EMEA at Indeed

In recent years we have seen a huge increase in the number of people breaking away from traditional employment, into freelance and self-employed roles. According to official figures from the Bank of England, the number of self-employed workers has risen by 700,000 since 2008. This is no particular surprise – after a recession we often see workers either setting up their own companies following redundancy or in search of a wage increase.

Traditionally, this leads to the creation of small businesses, who become employers in their own right – thus continuing the healthy economic cycle. However, it remains to be seen whether that will be the case this time around – so what’s holding today’s self-employed workforce back from expanding their staff and developing into successful small businesses?

For companies of any size, making the right hiring decision is crucial to the success of the business, but for a small firm in particular, investing in those first hires can be a make or break decision. Below are tips to help self-employed and small business owners overcome the barriers of finding and securing new talent.

Remote working

With only themselves to worry about, self-employed workers rarely have reason, or indeed the funds to invest in an office or other physical workspace. But when it comes to taking on new staff, this can prove to be a major drawback. Investing in technology and tools that enable them to take on remote workers can alleviate this problem.

Moreover, some regions of the UK are experiencing specific skills shortages - such as London, where software engineers are in particularly short supply, according to Indeed’s employment data. As such, the recruiting power is in many cases in the hands of the employees, who will often choose a large corporation over a small or emerging company. Taking on remote workers from other regions around the UK can also be an effective way to broaden your search beyond high-demand regions.

Incentivising staff

Small businesses will often struggle to compete with their larger counterparts in terms of staff wages, so it is important that they seek other ways to keep their employees satisfied. Job culture, job security and a friendly team are all essential factors that people take into account when looking for a place to work, so it is important that smaller companies, or self-employed workers looking to expand, take time to create a good working environment for their staff.

In particular, Indeed’s data found that flexible working is a highly searched-for term among job seekers. Small companies should consider how to support staff by offering working hours outside of the standard 9-5 where possible.

Outside support

Employment schemes have been named as a key initiative by the newly elected government – with Prime Minister David Cameron promising to create 3 million new apprenticeships. Providing a cost-effective way to take on new talent, apprenticeship schemes are particularly beneficial to self-employed workers, looking to make their first staff acquisitions. Self-employed and small business owners should keep track of all the public schemes available to them via the government’s official site.

Recruiting efficiently

Last year over 50% of job search through Indeed was via mobile – so it makes sense that small companies should embrace this efficient method of finding new talent. Job seekers want to search for jobs on the go – and companies that do not accommodate this, could be losing out on the best possible candidates.

As the UK self-employed work force continues to grow, it is important that these workers are given all the support they need to grow and develop into small businesses in their own right. With employment at a current high, there is stiff competition for the best possible workers, so it is crucial that small and emerging companies embrace techniques to find talent beyond the most obvious places, and devise schemes to ensure these employees are incentivised to stay with the company.