When I took on my first shop four years ago I brought with me the experience gained from working with for my parents in their shop. I really did learn a lot from my Dad, but I also knew that we had different ideas about the future. I knew that I had to create a business that I would run and not be a slave of so I needed to develop a reliable team that I could have confidence in.

As with many ‘back office’ aspects of running a business it is easy to get overwhelmed by the challenge. My plan has been to find great value third party support to deal with these tasks. I like technology and for issues like employee management and staff holiday organisation I have found two great apps. For staff holidays I use www.whosoff.com this app allows me to set up who is due what holidays and each individual member of my team can log on and see which days or weeks are covered. They can then put in the dates that they would like to take and once I have approved them (or not) the whole team can see when their colleagues are off.

To manage and store the documentation that employing people leads to these days I bought PearzHR that runs on my Mac computer. This program stores all the information that I hold each employee from a record of their interview and appointment letter to their details and notes about our regular appraisal meetings. I found both these programs in the Apple App Store.
Another area that I have bought in expertise is managing the legal side of holding an off licence. Alcohol retailers have come under much more of the Trading Standards and Police focus in recent years this means that independent retailers need to get it right every day. For this I have signed up for the LicencingPlus programme http://www.retailplus-uk.com/index.php/licensing. This provides me with all the forms, letters, records that I need to keep as well as a training package for my staff. The key to successfully managing the legal responsibilities of this area of my business is to ensure that I can prove due diligence. The LicencingPlus programme includes a quarterly test that my whole team take to ensure that we stay aware and that I have a record to show as evidence.

Yes, these support packages do cost me money, but I have developed a business model that suits me and my young family. Most importantly I am sure that my business is being operated correctly and as I wish it to be and that I am running it not the other way around.