There is a startup mantra, hire fast and fire fast. Firing fast is good advice if you have made a hiring mistake (however, I don’t agree with hiring fast because hiring the wrong candidate is a time consuming and expensive process).

Clear Books has never fired anyone per se, but I have let people go during their probationary period.

The first I shouldn’t have hired in the first place as I outlined in this article: Don’t hire that candidate you are not 100% sure about. The second simply wasn’t good enough, but that only came to light after they joined Clear Books.

A drawback of a strong team spirit with a fun and friendly company culture is that letting someone go is never an easy or nice thing to do.

The employee I let go was fitting in well as part of the team and culture but ultimately was not strong enough in the skills required for the role, so I let them go.

I got the sub-team together post exit and asked for their honest thoughts on losing a member of their team. Surprisingly to me, they were supportive of the decision because they had been feeling the impact. It had been consuming their time with no gain, making the entire team weaker,  which was resulting in a deterioration in the service provided to our customers.

It’s not a nice thing to do and certainly not a culture I want to create at Clear Books, but if you feel like someone isn’t right for the team then fire sooner rather than later.

Posted by Tim Fouracre

Tim founded Clear Books in 2008. Like many small business owners he worked from home for 15 months to get his startup off the ground. Today Tim enjoys helping Clear Books, its customers and its growing team innovate and achieve. Tim did his GCE O Levels in Ghana.


  1. @Kirstie We went to great lengths to try and make it work. We even redesigned our whole system to create a review process so that work could be checked by a superior before it was released to customers in an effort to raise the standard.

    If Clear Books had an infinite amount of money we could be ‘nice’ and avoid difficult decisions. However, like most small businesses in the UK, we don’t.

  2. @ThinkPurpose I don’t like the word ‘manager’. I prefer ‘team leader’. At Clear Books we have team leaders.

    It’s precisely because I believe in the individual that I don’t like the word manager. Individuals don’t need to be managed, they can manage themselves. Individuals need direction, guidance and to be challenged to work out solutions for themselves, make mistakes and learn from them.


    My reference to a ‘system’ is more that we tried really hard to improve our internal software to help the individual improve. We wanted to make it work.

    However, as you also pointed out there is the 5% where the problems are down to the individual. When the buck stops there you have a problem which has only one resolution…

Comments are closed.