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Become a Business Owner, not a Business Operator

by MAX JONES / Wednesday 19th October 2016

Business Owner

If you were to take a two-week holiday with your family, what would happen to your business while you were gone? Would you spend the whole time on your phone or laptop answering emails and putting out fires? Would your ‘holiday’ cause you more stress because you’re not in the office?

Have you ever had that experience? If you can relate then I’d like you to get a piece of paper & pen, & write down the following statement about yourself: “I am a Business Operator, not a Business Owner”. Done it? Thanks. Now get that same pen & put a big “X” through that to make sure we never do that again.

It’s kind of ironic isn’t it? Most recruiters look to start their own businesses because they want more freedom, more autonomy & an increased sense of flexibility & ownership that allows them to work when they want & where they want. & yet if anything, recruitment business owners end up feeling they have less freedom, less flexibility & the very fact that they own their business means that if they’re not there, the business literally stops working (or at least they feel it does!). The cold truth of the matter is – you end up simply being a highly paid recruitment consultant for a start-up recruitment company.

If you seriously believe that your business would suffer in your short absence then you’re not an owner, you’re an operator. & that just isn’t right. If you’re not thinking strategically as a business owner & instead you’re busting your tail each & every day, working long hours & having a better relationship with your CRM than your spouse, then you don’t have a business. You have a job that pays well. Fantastic for some, but not what you set out to achieve.

So, let’s make your business work for you…
A recruitment business owner is the ultimate strategist, the ultimate leader that understands by leveraging the talents of people around them (both within the business & outside), they can successfully create a business that has the right processes, procedures & support in place to help it succeed. They understand that without this, their business will always be limited to what they personally can do, achieve & “get done” each day.

In order to make your business work for you, you need command & trust in some key areas that will ultimately give you the freedom, flexibility & success you wanted when you first started out on this journey. Let’s explores these areas now & understand how appreciating & valuing these will help us shift our focus from operating to owning…

1. Back Office Support
Arguably the most important aspect of creating a business that works for the recruiter, who just so happened to take the risk & set up on their own.

Without an infrastructure in place that knows how to create, build & grow a business, you will always be at the mercy of the numbers! Sounds real supportive doesn’t it? But I’m afraid it’s true, without the knowledge of VAT, CT, NI, payroll, factoring, invoicing, credit control, MMAs & much much more, this area will always be one you feel you can never leave alone & will ultimately take you away from the more exciting aspects of owning a business.

This support should ideally come from one place & should have extensive experience in helping agencies create, build & grow their business in all climates. Hopefully making MMAs seem fun, tax look like a pussycat & mitigating tax (not evading!) in the best way possible for the Owner.

2. Legal procedures
Legal support should not be restricted to the odd telephone call or a brief email – you need legal procedures in place that will work for you even if you’re not there. You need advice that, funnily enough, you are likely to get tired of long before they tire of offering it!

An on-going understanding & appreciation of all the legal developments in your sector, regarding both recruitment & business ownership, is integral to the success of your business & your own stress levels! Having free recruitment training platforms – ranging from webinars to one-to-one workshops to mass, hysteria based life events are great ways to keep up to date with the ever developing legal landscape.

Water-tight TOBs, advice & support to call upon when you naturally get a tricky PSL, a non-paying client or a DNTU (did not turn up candidate!) are just some of the areas that will cause you stress & mean you end up operating you business instead of driving it forward.

3. Business support
One of the biggest stresses of all business operators is how to keep making the money! If you strip it down & really get to the heart of all fear in business, it’s around profitability & financial success. This stress will always follow you & always be a forefront of your mind if you don’t address it in the same way you would approach your accounts, your branding & your procurement methods – with passion, determination & expert support.

You need a trusted team around you that “have skin in the game” (as they say) to actually help you create a business that makes money regardless of whether you are physically sat at your desk, on your sofa in your back bedroom or by a beach somewhere in Greece.

You need inclusive access to a team of recruitment business superstars, individuals who have really done what you are now trying to do – real world experience, woes & successes that will help you create a business vehicle. Much like with a car, you want to own your Aston Martin DB11 & have absolute faith that it will keep running regardless of it you’re physically in it 365 days of the year.

But, why…?
So, we want to be a business owner instead of a business operator & we understand that there are certain areas that we need to look at in order to make this happen. But why?

Good question.

Having supported in excess of 250 recruiters in their own businesses over the years, SSG has been exposed to some many recruiters & some many reasons why they’re looking to work for themselves & start their own businesses. & every time (bar perhaps 1 or 2) some part of them wants a better work/life balance, more freedom, more choice & more control over the lives of themselves & their family.

But without having the focus & the mechanics to becoming a business owner rather than an operator, ironically what they once hoped for from their business fails to become a reality. Ironically they feel they have less freedom, less choice & a shed load of more stress.

This doesn’t mean you can’t do the things you love & be part of the business on a day to day basis – heck, being at the coalface & getting involved in everything from sourcing candidates to winning big PSLs is part of the reason you wanted to start up on your own – isn’t it? By all means, to some degree every recruitment entrepreneur should be an operator where it makes sense to be one. However allowing your business to work for you, not the other way round will ultimately help you achieve whatever weird & wonderful goals you have.