The Six Key Steps to Starting Up a Recruitment Business – From the Highest Authority!

By Recruit Ventures

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If you’re thinking of starting your own business you’ll probably do all sorts of preliminary research, which might well include asking the mighty Google ‘How to start up a business?’ Do that and you’ll find advice, direct form the government. At WWW.GOV.UK you’ll find a checklist of six key steps.

Now, in truth, this advice is generic, and aimed at helping people set up any kind of business. If you’re thinking of starting a recruitment business though, these six points are extremely relevant.

The WWW.GOV.UK list is set out as -

  • Start with an idea
  • Get funding
  • Research your market
  • Develop and plan
  • Find partners, suppliers and premises
  • Set up your business

Think about that in terms of founding a recruitment consultancy and you’ll find that it’s pretty good advice.

Let’s take ‘Start with an idea’ and assume it’s a given. 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. So far, so good.

‘Funding’, is next, and it’s essential. You may of course be massively wealthy and want to run a recruitment business to relieve the boredom of daily golf rounds, but it’s more likely that you’ll need funding to start up. Interest rates might not be at their highest, but you still need realistic terms, and, dream ticket, not have to plunder any of your own funds. Totally dream ticket is if you can find finance that covers not only the initial injection for set up costs, but also continued support to smooth out the peaks and troughs of cash flow that are inevitable in the first few months. And you probably don’t want a franchise, because you really want to go it alone. The right funding takes research.

Which leads us to ‘Research your market’. You’re going to know a bit about the recruitment market. 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? And when you’ve answered all those questions you can start to think about your brand, and what it should convey. Getting through those stages takes time, and it will pay to take professional advice to supplement your own knowledge.

‘Develop and plan’. Sounds obvious, and covers a multitude of sins, but it makes real sense to lay down a proper business plan. Work with experts and advisors to prepare a strategy that sets out achievable goals and expectations. Plan your marketing and get your message out there. But also, and crucially, plan your income and expenditure forecast, and establish how you’ll be able to sustain yourself financially from the outset.

Next on the list comes ‘Find partners, suppliers and premises’. The ideal would be to find a partner who can help find suppliers and premises. And if that partner is also helping with the funding then so much the better. Suppliers are more important in the early stages for a recruitment start up. You need to think about hardware, software, furniture and marketing materials. And maybe a car. As you get into your stride the supplier relationship will become, to be frank, secondary to the client relationship.

Which leads nicely into the final point of ‘Set up your business’. And the real point is that it’s not going to work if you don’t have clients. As a recruitment business of course you’ll have two sets of clients. Employers and candidates are the two inextricably linked elements of your customer base. So, with your idea in your head, your funding in place, your research done, your plans on paper and your partner found, all you have to do is find the business. And that’s the real trick. If you can get all the essential resources and plans in place so that you can concentrate, with total focus, on getting out there to do business, you’ll build a successful consultancy.

Let’s be honest, none of us, no matter what our political allegiance, believe that any government gets it right all the time. But, in this case it looks like WWW.GOV.UK have got some pretty good advice for the would be recruitment start up.


David Simons has extensive recruitment knowledge and experience having worked in the industry for over 20 years. He is currently Managing Director of Recruit Ventures where he works closely with joint venture partners, assisting and advising them on their start-up businesses.

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