The Transition from Start-up to Scale-up: How Recruitment Consultants Can Help

After surviving the ambiguity of start-up life, the natural next step for growing businesses is getting your company to scale. Sometimes this means rethinking everything that you know; you may have to start doing things differently, and the things that you did to get to this point might no longer be as effective. When transitioning from start-up to scale-up, you’re likely going to need more people and as a result, the way the business runs will change exponentially.  

When you’re in the early stages of inception, you spend time experimenting with where you fit into the market, and it’s often all hands on deck.  You have a solid, small team of people that are each responsible for a variety of different things. As you scale and become more established however, you’re able to better define your business lines and responsibilities amongst your people.

Scale-ups are considered major employers across the UK and European economies; they’re powerhouses for innovation and act as high skill job creators, particularly in the technology and digital marketing industry. If you’re about to take the leap from start-up to scale-up, find out how your company can attract the right people to help you build your business.

Hiring employees

It can be hard for an overworked manager if they don’t have anyone to delegate critical work to or are limited in briefing team members because of too much work.  Most start-ups get to a breaking point where it’s critical to hire new employees to help manage and spread out the workload before it gets too much. Having a new influx of talent doesn’t only relieve existing employees of the strain of being overworked, but it allows for new ideas to enter the team.

But this isn’t as simple as it sounds. In 2021, the ScaleUp Institute’s Annual Review found that 7 out of 10 scale-ups had difficulty accessing talent which was cited as the key barrier to their growth, delaying their transition overall. But don’t panic – there are ways to make this process easier.

Most start-ups lack the time to run a thorough recruitment process, therefore using temporary external recruiters as part of your internal team gives companies the flexibility of having a structured process to find the best people without the outlay of hiring a permanent recruiter.


Finding the right people

To become truly scalable, business owners need to make themselves excusable from their business. If you’ve hired the right people, things should be able to function without you, enabling you to focus on the business, whilst also making your employees feel empowered by trusting them to work without your constant supervision.

Because of this, it’s necessary that distinct leadership roles be implemented as the company grows, as you’ll need people to act as the foremen when you’re not around. It’s not the same as it was when you were an early-stage company, where you could adopt all sorts of different roles as the owner. It’s time to ask for help - focus on building the right team and finding capable people to fill your senior leadership roles.


Getting assistance

During the start-up stage, you may have hired your first few employees through recommendations, or even a previous network, but there’s only so many workers that this will get you. Using a well-networked head-hunter gives you access to new potential personnel during an important strategic stage where fresh minds are needed. Partnering with an experienced external recruiter will ease the transition for you, and a good recruiter knows their market; they may have worked in the industry before, or even have candidates in their active network with the relevant experience who can contribute to the company’s growth.

When expanding your business to a scale-up, it’s crucial that the new employees that you hire also fit the culture of the existing work environment. They need to understand the core of the business’s goals and the way that it operates. Here at Oakwell Hampton, we take a people-first approach and invest heavily in the development of our consultants, who collectively believe in the importance of having real relationships and connecting with the people they are hiring for.  While this may sound easy, it’s a long-term process and there’s no easy way to ensure the first few people you contact are going to be the right fit. Using a third party with a fully vetted ready-to-go network can save you time and money when you’re looking to scale.

Creating a diverse environment

It’s significant in this transition to ensure that your talent is diversified; It’s about hiring developers that have skills that your current team don’t. Even if certain technologies aren’t currently being used by your company, their experience with other tech stacks could prove invaluable in the future. Having developers with a wide range of skills that could fall outside of your current tech stack can have a huge impact when introducing new technologies into the business, ensuring adaptability.

So, if you find yourself in this sticky situation, get in touch. At Oakwell Hampton, we dedicate our time to supporting businesses like yours and assigning them with talented people from within the digital and technical industry. We have an extensive network of people and we’re committed to ensuring that we find the right person for your role.


For more information, you can also listen to our Podcast with Growth Tribe’s David Arnoux to listen to his take on how to find the product/market fit when growing start-ups, and why maintaining focus is crucial.

Share this:

A profile picture for Ben Higgs

Ben Higgs

31st August

Career Advice Blog