Read time: 5 mins        Added: 20/09/2023

You wouldn’t dream of not having a well-thought-out plan for business growth – but expanding your team is typically key to delivering increased turnover, and it requires the same level of intelligent focus as a solid business plan does.

The UK's talent landscape is changing. A Gatsby Foundation survey1. of 502 small UK businesses highlights recruitment (43%) as a pressing concern, second only to rising costs (51%). Understanding 'why' and 'how' drives business success, so what are the critical components of a good strategy to buy and grow the skills you need? 

Growing Talent: Shaping Tomorrow


Growing talent means developing your existing people to meet your future skills needs - ensuring you have an internal skills pipeline for sustainable success while nurturing your culture and retaining staff.


  • Skills Forecasting: Identify imminent skills you will need and create plans to address any gaps vs. today’s team.
  • Apprenticeships: Find out about relevant apprenticeship programmes for your sector or contact local colleges to find out what they are offering.
  • Development Initiatives: Commit to continuous training and mentoring. Strive to champion a culture of development and growth.
  • Retention: Recognise achievements and focus on building a great culture - this boosts employee loyalty and reduces talent loss.
  • Action: Craft a 'future talent map'. Plot necessary skills, overlay current capabilities, and have regular team-member discussions on career progression. 

Buying Talent: Tactical Recruitment


'Buying' talent means hiring the skills you need 'ready-made' when you need them – getting you immediate expertise to spur innovation and growth for your business.


  • Smart Recruitment: Broaden your horizons, value diversity, and when necessary, secure specialist recruiting assistance. Casting your net wide and being open-minded at the 'top of the funnel' – i.e. when you’re trying to find potential candidates – is the best way to achieve success.
  • Integration: Effective onboarding aligns newcomers with your culture and enables a faster start. It's more than a HR checklist and needs as much consideration as client/customer onboarding.
  • Budgeting: Research industry pay rates for potential hires and understand the changing market. Use realistic forecasts on this for your budget planning. Also, consider how you’ll ensure parity of pay against market trends for current staff.
  • Action: Critically review your onboarding materials and approach, pinpoint where hiring is essential and 'heat map' which roles will be more challenging to fill. Start networking – build mini pipelines of people who have the skills you might need in the future.


While the UK's talent scene appears volatile, you can create your own roadmap. Align your hiring plan and skills development strategy with foundational principles, and you'll navigate the evolving market seamlessly.

Charting Your Course: 3 Essential Tips

1. Skill Development: Use free resources like LinkedIn Learning for spontaneous skill upgrades. Invest in affordable but powerful learning platforms (there are many options, simply search for “cloud-based Learning Management Software small business”). These platforms start from as little as a few pounds per employee per month and enable you to create your own training content, redraft generic content to suit your needs, and provide standardised training and development for your team.

This approach is key for knowledge retention and great in sectors where compliance assurance is important. You can also look at options for relevant apprenticeship programmes or collaborate with colleges or providers for bespoke courses for larger requirements.

2. Adopt Flexibility: The broader your flexibility, the larger the talent pool. Reconsider any hesitations against remote or hybrid models, especially for niche skills. Remember that hybrid still restricts access to within a commuting radius of your locations, so while it will widen your pool further by including people who don’t want 100% office-based, it won’t provide the breadth of pool that fully remote could.

3. Diverse Outreach: Initiate programs to source talent across different backgrounds. Research what you offer as an employer that might appeal to different demographics, ensuring alignment with their needs where possible through some quick research. It’s also important to be authentic in broadcasting that message.

Your approach to talent shouldn’t be isolated to leadership discussions. It needs to mirror your mission, ethos, and desired brand identity.

By aligning recruitment, skills development, and retention with your core 'why', you're not just striving for success but establishing a strategic business advantage over competitors who are working in a reactive way to manage their skills acquisition.

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Watch the 1 minute film

Do you have a plan in place to attract and keep the right talent for your business? Katrina Hutchinson-O'Neill of Join Talent, shares her top tips on creating a successful talent strategy to grow your business.

Listen to the 10 minute interview

Here’s 10 minutes on how to grow your business talent. Katrina Hutchinson-O'Neil shares three main points she thinks are vital for success; thinking about your talent strategy with the same effort you put into your business strategy, align your teams’ expansion with your business growth and remember the term talent crisis is not a cliché.  

Listen to the audio Listen to the audio

1.Recruitment concerns for small businesses – SME Business News

The information contained in this article is for general purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal or professional advice.  You should seek specialist advice should you have specific queries. This article is prepared by/based on information from third parties and is believed to be correct.  However, neither Bank of Scotland plc nor its employees, officers or agents warrants its accuracy or completeness or accepts responsibility for any losses or damages whatsoever caused by reliance on information contained in this article.