Leadership & Productivity

Assembling your scale-up team for world domination

3 min read

24 November 2017

Former special projects journalist

Things don’t always go to plan in a scale-up, and employees need to buy-in to the business’ vision from day one.

Putting together a crack scale-up team in the early days to cover all skill bases required is hard work, but possible by following a few key steps.

Recruiting for an early-days scale-up is particularly difficult, because there are so many extra attributes an employee needs to be successful in this sort of fast-paced environment.

Things don’t always go to plan in a scale-up, and employees need to buy-in to the business’ vision from day one – they need to want to see it succeed, so set-backs make them more determined than ever, rather than leaving them feeling fed-up. That’s not something you can expect from just any old nine-to-five-r.

The first hire

In the early days, recruitment budgets can be quite tight. Some roles will be more pressing than others – for example, if a founder is lacking in funding knowledge it might become a priority to recruit someone to handle this, rather than an HR manager for a small team.

Innovate UK’s recent study of investors and businesses found that the number one discipline that should be in place when scaling up is sales (39 per cent).

Other disciplines included technical skills (17 per cent), finance (14 per cent), operations (13 per cent), marketing (10 per cent) and HR (one per cent).

Overall, there is quite a range of answers to this question, suggesting that the key skills for a scale-up team depend on the nature of the business itself.

What qualities does a scale-up team need?

In a previous article in this series, we established that having a strong management team is critical to both businesses and investors, (82 per cent and 96 per cent respectively). But what exactly is meant by a “strong management team”?

When asked what the top qualities investors are looking for, 99 per cent of the respondents to the Innovate UK survey suggested “drive”.

Other key management skills cited included: passion (98 per cent), resilience (96 per cent), ambition (96 per cent), adaptability (96 per cent) and vision (94 per cent.

There is a problem, of course – these sorts of qualities can be difficult to pick up on in an hour-long interview, or from someone’s CV.

Business owners will have to find their own ways of deducing how passionate about their company or industry someone is – but it’s worth noting that “passion” ranked higher than “market/sector expertise”.

Always pay attention to candidates whose enthusiasm shines through – it could do more for your business in the long run than an employee who is just there for a pay-check!

This article is part of a wider campaign called the Scale-up Hub, a section of Real Business that provides essential advice and inspiration on taking your business to the next level. It’s produced in association with webexpenses and webonboarding, a fast-growing global organisation that provides cloud-based software services that automate expenses management and streamline the employee onboarding process.