ONE of the hardest jobs for a business founder when scaling up is bringing in new people with a different approach and skill set if existing, loyal employees don’t have the abilities required, according to Sir Tom Hunter.

“A company requires many different skills and as a found you have to make the hard decisions,” he said, pointing to the dilemma as one that is frequently discussed on his Scale-up Scotland leadership programme, launched by The Hunter Foundation in partnership with Scottish EDGE and aimed at ambitious entrepreneurs and firms with the potential and desire to grow sales beyond £20-£30 million.

Sir Tom added: “Sometimes it is hard when the people who helped you in the beginning are not the people who are going to get to the next level – and that means an honest conversation. The buck stops with you and it will probably be the most difficult thing you will ever do in business.”

READ MORE: Hunter Foundation launches pre-scaling scheme

Asking if “loyalty trumps skills”, Lord Willie Haughey said: “They have helped you build your business – but are they the right people to take it to the next level?”

Alluding to his own business, City Facilities Management Holdings, he said: “Some of the guys who started with me on my journey are still with me today but there is no doubt that at some stages I have had to bring in people.

“But if you are growing and taking a leap in your business, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you lose people – you find the level that they are good at and you take care of them, you find the correct position for them at their level.

“I don’t think I have ever experienced any animosity about how we have dealt with that.”

READ MORE: ‘Britain not the powerhouse we think it is’ says Sir Tom Hunter

The entrepreneurs were discussing the issue after being contacted by a business owner whose board had asked him to ascertain if the skills of people who had helped him build the company – which has experienced rapid growth over the last two years – were sufficient to take it to the next level.