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Essentials for scale-up success: Finding the right talent

A short mini-series looking at seven challenges every growing business faces – and how your peers are tackling them. 

At O2 we support start-ups and growing businesses through our work with organisations like Enterprise Nation and the ScaleUp Institute, as well as through Telefónica’s innovation hub, Wayra.

In our eBook, Seven Essentials for Scale-Up Success, we outline seven key challenges entrepreneurs must overcome in order to scale their business effectively. You can download your copy here.

Finding the right talent

In the ScaleUp Institute’s 2018 ScaleUp Survey, 8 out of 10 business founders described finding the right talent as their most difficult challenge.

To give us insight, tips and advice on finding the right talent, we spoke to Fiona Campbell-Howes, founder of specialist tech sector copywriting agency Radix Communications. She shares her experience of sourcing skilled writers in a highly niche industry.

Building an agency wasn’t part of Fiona’s original plan when she moved to Cornwall to work as a freelance copywriter and start a family. But when the work kept coming in, she realised she would either have to start turning it down or recruit a team of writers to help her.

She chose the latter, but it proved more difficult than she expected. The combination of good writing skills and industry experience was in short supply, and she had to develop her team from scratch. Now the agency has its own development programme, where raw talent is trained to write high quality copy specifically for the enterprise tech industry. Each new recruit goes through intensive training, mentoring and coaching, including a Quality Assurance (QA) model where all work is overseen by an experienced writer.

In 2018, Fiona launched an internship programme to incubate new talent – and the agency has just hired one of the first interns into a permanent position.

Retaining top talent

Recruiting and moulding the right people is only one of the HR challenges faced by entrepreneurs in growth businesses. They also need to motivate and retain the talent they have recruited.

For Radix Communications, losing an experienced employee would be a huge blow, so Fiona offers a number of benefits that make working at the agency an attractive proposition. They include generous pay and holiday to flexible hours and the ability to work from home using laptops and cloud apps. They also offer profit share bonuses and perks like film nights, coffee vouchers and Fitbits – and every employee is entitled to take a paid three-month sabbatical after five years of service.

“Offering the ability to work flexibly and from any location is now key to attracting and retaining top talent. Mobile devices and cloud collaboration tools make it easy.”

Fiona Campbell-Howes, founder of Radix Communications

The focus on retention has been worth the effort. Turnover has grown by around 20% annually, and Fiona now employs a team of 17 skilled and motivated writers. But perhaps the clearest sign that Fiona’s focus on talent has paid off is that every writer she has ever hired still works for the agency.

You can read about all seven challenges faced by leaders of scaling business – click here to download O2’s eBook Seven essentials for scale-up success.


We also help growing businesses to support better employee engagement. We provide O2 Open, a simple yet effective way to give your people big savings on their personal monthly mobile plans, accessories and more. They can enjoy all the benefits of Priority too, including free coffee, early access to gig tickets, and seamless connectivity with O2 Wifi. Find out more at O2 Open.

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