Getting to know you: Sarah Loates

Sarah Loates

What do you currently do?

Loates Business Solutions consists of two arms: LoatesHR provides outsourced HR and employment law support for small and medium sized businesses; LoatesTraining provides HR and employment law training for managers and internal HR teams. In addition to running the business, I personally work as a senior HR consultant for LoatesHR, and as a trainer for LoatesTraining.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

I’d never really thought of myself as someone who would run their own business – consequently, the first 20 years of my HR career were spent climbing the corporate ladder within multinational companies. Despite rising to a senior position as a business partner to board level directors, an increasing sense of frustration at internal politics and bureaucracy led me to question what I really wanted from my HR career.

Consequently, following a corporate restructuring I seized the opportunity to go it alone and start my own HR consultancy. I felt that small businesses were poorly served by existing HR providers, and saw a niche for highly personal face-to-face HR advice, as opposed to the impersonal call-centres typical of major outsourced HR providers. In particular, I relished the opportunity to get back to what I was good at and enjoyed, and the reason why I embarked on an HR career in the first place: pragmatic ‘boots on the ground’ HR problem solving, and personal relationship building.

Who do you admire?

People with vision; people who don’t give up; people who aren’t constrained by other people’s expectations of them; people who make change happen.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

I wish I’d had more confidence in my own abilities at the beginning, taken more risks, achieved faster growth, and got a team in place sooner.

What defines your way of doing business?

At Loates Business Solutions we’re all about forming long-term personal relationships – after all, people like people. We’re pragmatic, straight-talking, no-nonsense, business focussed – we’ll help you achieve your business objectives, not lecture you about directives from Europe. But we’ll balance this with doing the right thing; ethics are important to us.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Believe in yourself – you want others to – so don’t undervalue yourself when pricing. Remember that running a business is a marathon, not a sprint, so pace yourself and take time off when you need to. Have a plan and recruit good people who will buy into that plan rather than just unthinkingly follow instructions.

Twitter: @TeamLoates