This article was submitted by The Recruit Venture Group
- Start with clear idea.
If you’re thinking of starting up you’re probably a recruitment professional who wants to use your experience to ‘do it your way’. You’ll be looking to reap more of the rewards of your own hard work, and you’re probably bursting with ideas on how to run your own consultancy. All of that is good. But, be clear about what you want to do. Identify the sector or sectors you know most about. Decide what it is that makes you special and how you can shape a business that offers something your competitors don’t.
- The finance.
The most important thing is to have funding in place for both the longer term implications and the short term demands. There will be start up costs, including premises, branding, computers and of course staff – even if that’s just you! Longer term you’ll need to ride out the cash flow implications of the early days. At best you’ll be spending money 30 days ahead of income.
Ideally then you need funding to cover all of that, and really ideally, to have it from someone who understands recruitment and the unique demands it makes. With the best will in the world the average bank manager is not an expert in your field.
- Get the systems sorted from the start.
You may well feel that you’ve had enough of your job as a recruitment consultant, and that you could do a better, and better rewarded, job on your own. But the minute you leave the day job you’ll realise just how much you depended on the systems and software that came with it.
Even if you start up completely on your own you’ll need better systems than your trusty old lap top can provide. Cash flow, candidate details, employer client records, vacancies, cvs – they all need handling and that’s without the actual applications process.
You will crash and burn very soon after take-off if you don’t have robust, tried and tested systems on which to run the business. The recruitment industry has essential procedures and without them all your efforts will flounder. Get the back office in place before you make the first pitch.
In theory you can pick up the phone and start making appointments. ‘I’ll worry about the logo and branding later. Let’s get some business in first’. Wrong! This is a competitive market and a nameless business, no matter how good your reputation, just won’t cut it.
In some ways of course this is one of the most exciting bits. Your brand. Your logo. You’ve probably given it lots of thought and have your own ideas. Because everybody’s an expert on coming up with ideas for branding, and with today’s technology anybody can do it. Wrong again!
Get expert help. Your bank manager may not be an expert in recruitment. And you’re not an expert in writing and design.
- The Website
See number 4! The same applies. No matter how tempting the downloadable packages and templates are, you need professional help and guidance to get your website up and running and properly, and creatively, designed and built.
Also, no matter how small you are to start with you must have a website. Even if you have brand new, smart, premises, the website is your shop window. It needs to be creative, but keep it simple to navigate. Make sure there are clear signposts for candidates and employers to find the sections relevant to each of them. And that you have the right message for each of them.
And make sure you promote the website address. The smartest website in the world is of no use if nobody knows it’s there!
- Research your market.
This is probably a good time to point out that you’re going to have be doing ‘all of the above’ at pretty much the same time. So be organised.
Research is vital. Obviously you’ll have recruitment experience. Why else would you be doing this? But, now that you’re planning to be your own boss you need to really know the market you can best aim at and service. What geographical area can you cover? Are there any specific industries or recruitment requirements that are prevalent on your patch, and can you take advantage of them? Do you have special knowledge of any market sector that you can exploit? Who is already operating in your area, and how much competition do they represent?
If you’re doing this properly the answers to some of those questions will inform how you ‘frame’ your branding and company message.
- Develop and plan.
You might think that items 1 to 6 are enough planning to be getting on with. They’re all essential but they’re not the whole picture. You won’t get far without a proper business plan, and it’s advisable to get expert help in preparing a strategy that sets out achievable goals and expectations.
Crucially, you need to plan your income and expenditure forecast. You need to establish how you’ll be able to sustain yourself financially from the outset. You also need to plan ahead for the next stage. Do you have a specific goal? How are you defining it? By a turnover target? By plans to expand? If you don’t know where you’re going – you probably won’t get there!
- Play to your strengths.
It’s just as important to know, and address, your weaknesses, but let’s stay positive! This is a vital area. The reason you’re setting up on your own is to ‘do it your way’. You feel confident about doing it because you’re good at what you do. You’re probably running a busy desk or team right now. But here’s the thing, when you become the boss you’re going to have a lot more responsibilities. There’s a lot of administration to sort, the rent to pay, staff issues to resolve and of course there’s juggling the numbers to service that loan you took out to get started. All of that distracts you from what you should be, and wanted to be, doing which is getting out there , finding clients and candidates and growing the business.
Stay focussed. Get on with the big tasks. Which means you’ll need to have got yourself organised with the right help.
- Get the right help.
If you’re planning on putting a team together at the outset you should know enough about recruitment to find the right staff for yourself. But it’s wider than that. From the financial backing to the marketing you need the right experts around you. Ideally they should be people who know about recruitment.
And don’t forget supplier relationships. You need to think about hardware, software, furniture and maybe a car. You need good deals on all of them especially at the start, so build good relationships with suppliers. As you get into your stride the supplier relationships will become, to be frank, secondary to the client relationships, but it’s important to maintain them. It helps build your reputation. Those suppliers are also good sources of referrals – and potential clients!
- Do it!
That’s the big one! The above list may seem a little daunting, but ultimately you’ll never get started unless you take the leap. Take your time to plan properly by all means. ‘Maybe next year’ usually leads to ‘if only I had…’