Kirsty Bathgate

Kirsty Bathgate

Managing Director - Gearing For Growth

Employing for Today and not for the Future

As you grow a business the people you need to surround yourself with in the early stages to get off the ground,  are unlikely to be all the same people that will help you to scale a business and recognising this early can save a lot of pain and cost  as you grow your business.

When starting to think about growing your team, think firstly about where you want your business to be in 3 years time. What does this look and feel like, what is the culture of the business, what have you achieved and are achieving now? Then think about what type of people you will be surrounded by and what they will be doing to continue to grow, lead and develop the business.

This may sound time consuming and detracting from what you need to do now, but if instead you focus on recruiting and growing your team to solve a current problem, resource issue, or skill gap this may solve a short term issue but is unlikely to take you to where you want to go in the long term.

The earlier you can start to grow your team with people who have the attitude, skills and experience for the longer term the less painful that journey is likely to be for both you and the team.


Being afraid to Employ People who are Better than you

In order to build a great business that is successful, can scale and from which you can exit well, you need to build a great team of people to surround you, wherever possible who are better than you. Indeed you may employ someone to run the business for you as you concentrate on your own area of expertise.

Entrepreneurs and early stage leaders often feel that they have to have all of the answers and be able to solve every problem this detracts from your key skills and your role as the leader who creates the vision, inspires, coaches and engages a strong, skilled group of people to become a high performing team.

It can often seem easier to bring in less skilled, “cheaper” individuals who can be trained and develop with the business and at times this is appropriate. It will always take time and investment for these people to deliver which can be costly in terms of opportunity cost to the business, assess where you really need expertise and experience and wherever possible hire this.


Employing a “Mini Me”

It is very natural when recruiting, to be drawn to those who are similar to you, it is comfortable, feels like less of a challenge and you can feel like you understand them. However in order to build a good team with balance you need complimentary skills, traits and personalities to your own, not the same.

If you are thinking about growing your team, be very honest about your own strengths and gaps in terms of skills look at how important these are to the business, what you could achieve with these skills to help you to prioritise the skills and experience you need to bring into the business.

If you are an outgoing business developer who is quick to spot opportunities and take advantage of these – a financial expert who is more considered, possibly cautious and takes the time to evaluate more thoroughly the impact of these opportunities can appear to get in your way and be frustrating for you. They could also save you a lot of time and energy on dead ends and help you to evaluate more thoroughly the potential risk, cost and reward of these opportunities.


Corporate experience is not always the answer

I have worked with a number of entrepreneurs who have hired for a big corporate name on the CV and been disappointed and I have done it myself. What leads to this disappointment and often ultimate departure can often be a confusion or misalignment of expectations at the outset. From your point of view you want to really understand this person’s responsibility for delivering outcomes and what part they played in this. How much support did they have, how big was their team, and how much did they rely on peers or leaders to deliver? It is very unlikely that you will have anything like the level of support and infrastructure that this person is used to having in place and they may not be able to deliver without this and not even have considered that they need it or that it won’t exist. If someone has corporate experience, and experience of working in an SME, early stage or start up business, they are much more likely to be adaptable to change and the new environment that you can offer. Make sure you don’t exaggerate any support they will have and that you paint a realistic picture including who does the cleaning and changes the printer cartridges


Don’t dismiss outsourcing or collaborating

If you can’t employ all of the experience and talent that you need, consider outsourcing a non-critical area to an expert or collaborating to share resources or expertise. This can also be a good way of finding people you would like to have in your team in the longer term, while getting to know and understand each other better, but without having to take an initial and costly chance on hiring.


Kirsty Bathgate is the founder of Gearing for Growth working with growth businesses and leaders to support them to perform at their best and build a great team, with a clear vision, values led culture, less stress, better returns and more time for the important things in life.

If you would like to speak to Kirsty about building a great team and becoming more effective and confident with less stress and better return call Kirsty on 07425 629816 or email


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