How to hire senior managers without spending a penny

Managers, non-execs and mentors are out there – and many will cost nothing up-front. So how do you find them?

People make businesses work, not money: teams of people. But only the lucky few start out as a team (even if it is only a duo). Most entrepreneurs are on their own and, far too many are still on their own (philosophically speaking) years later.

It’s like this isn’t it: the more you are on your own, the more you learn to fight your own battles. The more people don’t believe in you, the more you learn to trust your own instinct and reject others’ wisdom and advice. And, one day, you suddenly halt and wonder why the war has never ended.

Attracting senior managers

Then there’s the other entrepreneur types, the ones who know that building a great business starts not with raising cash, but with building the senior team that will lead the business with them.

That senior team:

  • Gets the business model right
  • Finds and delivers the most profitable business
  • Gets the management structures in place for growth
  • Impresses customers and suppliers so they do bigger business with you quicker and
  • Positively stuns potential investors with their credibility to the extent that you get offered investment, rather than having to ask for it.

Where do you find these people? Our research suggests that today there are around 500,000 experienced executives in the UK willing to offer their services AT LITTLE OR NO UP FRONT CASH COST to assist an entrepreneurial founder to “get to the next stage”. (Note: that’s roughly one person per new company created each year!)

With successful careers behind them or finishing soon, they now want to do someone different. They fall into lots of different categories – whatever sector they may be in.  We call them ‘lively retired’, ‘value added angels’, ‘serial CEO/CTO/FDs’, ‘givers-back’ ‘paid-off and looking for a new opportunity’, ‘entrepreneurial but not an entrepreneur’ and ‘business builders’.

Engaging with this talent is a challenge, but it is getting easier and more professional. No longer is it just a case of getting an hour of free advice over a coffee. Now these people treat working with you like any other professional job.

You don’t have to pay them now, but they do expect deferred rewards in the form of bonuses, commissions, share options or sweat equity. And that means a proper contract and a proper scope of work with deliverables.

You won’t necessarily find these people informally. Beware the friend of a friend who is “not quite the right fit”, but you end up feeling obliged to work with because of the introduction from a good mate. These people can do terrible damage to your business, especially when dealing with their failure to help begins to take up all your time! They will have to go sooner rather than later, but they are tricky to remove.

To find the right people you need to plan, find out where to find them, create a job spec, market the opportunity, gather interest, draw up a shortlist, take references and then select the best person for the job.

Pitching for management

Headhunters will help, or you could try live hiring. This is how live hiring works.

We bring around 50 executives into each live Pitching for Management event. We hold them in 20 cities around the UK – so there will be one near you. All of them know that you will be there and come in order to meet you. It works like this:

  1. You pitch
  2. They listen
  3. They approach you with offers of help
  4. You choose who to follow up with

We think it’s better because you get an immediate feel as to whether you get on with each other and so you don’t waste your time with people you don’t like. If you give it a try you might find other reasons too – others tell us they found people who could get them 10-fold sales growth or bring with them (in due course) £100,000s investment from venture capitalists and private investors they know!

Modwenna Rees-Mogg is the founder of Angel News and the creator of the Pitching for Management events, where up to six companies pay £125+VAT to present their businesses and detail the roles available to a talented room full of talented individuals. Pitching for Management events are taking place nationwide in 20 cities. For more information on your nearest event or to book your place visit the Angel News event booking site


(will not be published)