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4 lessons to remember when you start a recruitment business

Max Jones / Monday 14th August 2017


It is right to feel scared when it comes to starting your own recruitment business? Is it right to feel nervous? Cautious? Apprehensive? What has become clear to SSG over the years is that, if a recruiter(s) does not feel these types of emotions – something is drastically wrong. Sounds odd, I know.

But launching a recruitment business is no easy feat and it would be ignorant of any recruiter, no matter how experienced, to not feel apprehensive to some extent. It’s a daunting process, massively exciting don’t get us wrong, but daunting. That’s not to say it can’t be done, won’t be done and won’t be successful – it’s just simply showing that the understandable apprehension you are feeling is not mis-placed.

With that in mind, here are some lessons SSG have learnt over the years when it comes to starting a recruitment business and lessons that we feel ought to be remembered when you are looking to make the tantalising leap. 

1. If Candidate is King then Cash is Ruler

A placement is not a placement until the fee has been paid. A “good” month is not a “good” month, unless fees are being paid and money is coming in. Credit control is therefore as important to a small business, as winning the business. Ensure you know your clients invoicing process, the TOBs you agreed with that client and be aware of the invoicing “lead up”. Nothing worse than sending a “gentle reminder” email a day before payment is due – cynical I know, but we’re in the people business after all.

2. Define your market

Despite in theory being an understandable idea, all too often small businesses think the best way to start a business is by taking any work they can, from any client, anywhere. and while in theory, working all the roles you manage to get on board sounds like a very understandable idea – what we’ve seen over the years is that this actually has an adverse effect.

By defining your market early, understanding what type of agency you are setting out to be and with what clients and candidates you are going to work with – you won’t fall into this logical, but risky, trap.

3. Change is normal, enjoy it

One of the fantastic by-products of working for yourself is the fact that you live the life you want, the way you want, at the pace you want. Most recruiters have a clear idea of what they want in their own agencies – that’s not the challenge. The challenge is changing with the times. Having the command and confidence to trust in changing the direction of the business if (and when) you have to.

4. You aren’t alone

When embarking on this journey, you must not let your pride get in the way of you learning as much as you can about your business and who best can help you. No one ever got anywhere on their own -  yes people took the risk on themselves and might have invested their own money, but no one really succeeded without leveraging the support of friends, family, businesses and (sometimes) investors to help them achieve in their agency.