Ellis Whittam | Helping UK entrepreneurs sleep at night

We meet with UK business owners every day.

And all too often we’re told how common it is for them to have restless nights – waking up feeling like they need to know everything, do everything and (for many) get things right first time.  We find this is particularly common for:

  1. Organisations in growth
  2. New start-ups
  3. Owners who feel isolated at the helm.

Unlike being a manager at work in an established organisation, many owners don’t have anyone to confide in, other than perhaps friends or family who don’t always understand or empathise. 

Indeed, the stress related issues of business owners are often very different to those who are employed; overwhelm, a lack of time, managing cashflow and the employment responsibilities, whilst striving to ‘live the dream’ of business ownership, can be very lonely.

We know that whilst friends and family may see you as the entrepreneur who is in control of everything, there are certainly some days when you just don’t feel the Richard Branson or Karen Brady vibe.

So, what can be done? 

From our work with small and growing businesses (and indeed, we have grown immensely ourselves over the last 10 years, so we REALLY do know this stuff), here’s what we’ve learnt:

Know and be proactive around your legal responsibilities.

All business owners know that you can’t delegate many of the responsibilities of the law.  And nor should you. If you are asking someone to do a job for you, it’s only right you keep them safe and well.  And not just because the law says so, but because it’s morally right. 

At Ellis Whittam (EW), we are not scaremongers. But, in your heart you may well know that there are aspects of your business where you’d be weak if the HSE turned up tomorrow. Or there may even be areas where you just ‘don’t know what you don’t know’. 

We work with many small business owners who often don’t realise the extent to which they need to prove how they’ve got processes in place to keep people safe, or know the extent of the knowledge your named Competent Person (who you need to name if you have over 5 people in your business) needs to have. Saying that Fred or Freda is the Competent person on a piece of paper just won’t cut it if they are not qualified to do the job.

fixed term employment contract

Have robust contracts and staff handbooks in place that are RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS and align to the business you want to create. 

Set them and then aim to ‘forget’ them (hear us out on this one) and then focus on managing. We pride ourselves of being pragmatic and realistic. So, when we say, ‘set and forget’, we mean that contracts should be fit for purpose, fair, protect your business and be realistic and pragmatic. 

But great contracts don’t replace good management.   What you should have in place are bespoke contracts and handbooks that set out clearly what it means to work in your business – what your employees can expect from you and what you expect in return.  So they are there to deal with issues when (and they will) come up. 

We recently heard from a business owner who had downloaded their employment contracts from the internet.  When they had absence issues with an employee, out came the dusty contracts. Were they clear on disciplinary processes?    Were they clear on how booking holidays work?  No.  Did the firm and the Directors in particular, leave themselves open to claims and tribunals?  Yes.

Build processes for a scalable and sustainable business.  

You’ll already know that you need to scale to grow so building processes in the background that mean you have a seamless operation are critical. So, we’ve built some for you which come ready to use by the right people in your business, with very simple setup. Most of our clients get to grips with our systems with no training, though we are always there to help if you need us.

Need to manage holiday bookings and timesheets in one place? We’ve got that covered.  

Need to make sure H&S inspections are done across multiple sites AND the actions are followed up? We’ve got an online system that does just that.  

Need to train people and prove they remember and do what you’ve asked? We’ve got an online e-learning portal that will deliver training at their desk and let you know when they have done it.  

Need to keep a record of CPD to show your staff are competent if a client asks? Yes, that too.   

Create a powerful network of support for YOU.

Growing a business can be lonely and is often stressful. Yet, there are many studies that tell us that entrepreneurs who create a strong support network are more successful. We pride ourselves on giving our clients access to qualified and named H&S Consultants and access to a dedicated Employment Law Adviser who gets to know your business. Oh – and they talk to each other too! 

“Isn’t it expensive?”

We know that when a business is in growth, what you spend your money on and where you focus is critical to success. Again, we have done it ourselves and with over 3000 clients, we know that often it’s what you choose NOT to spend time and money on that’s as important too. That’s why we offer a service tailored to help. This includes:

Transparent Fees

That’s right.  You can grow as much as you like and use us a much as you like for our contracted services, safe in the knowledge that our fees are set upfront based on the date you sign. 

Hr helpline for employers

Business Systems

Many of our tools (such as access to our legal and health and safety knowledge hubs, e-learning, HR software and health and safety compliance centre) are integrated into our offering depending on what your business needs. Our business managers can discuss what’s right for you and create a bespoke package to suit your business needs and your pocket.

outsourcing HR

Network Support

As part of our own growth, we’ve built a network around us and we’ll happily share it. We’ve undertaken the due diligence on insurance companies, benefits providers and a legal helpline for those commercial decisions that are a natural part of a business in growth (such as lease arrangements on all those new premises). When you become an Ellis Whittam client, you get access to this network to help you grow.

“But our business is different”

We hear this a lot. And whilst of course all businesses are different, whichever stage of growth you are in as a business, we are certain we’ve helped someone like you before. From manufacturers, care homes, hotel owners, professional services, retailers and garden centres (and plenty more besides). All have lent on our expertise to help them scale. Just take a look at our Pure Gym testimonial below to see how we’ve been with them from the start.

Find out why PureGym chose Ellis Whittam

Want to know more?

To find out more, book an appointment to meet with one of our Business Managers.  They’ll come to see you working in your business so we can start getting to know you. 

Let us help you sleep at night.  Because we know it’s possible.