Growing a successful recruitment business

Practical advice and tips to help you grow a successful recruitment business.

The recruitment industry has seen significant growth in recent years as more and more companies realise the importance of getting the ‘right’ employees. This growth has seen an increase in the number of recruitment agencies appearing in the market – largely due in part to the high number of recruitment professionals starting out and setting up their own agencies.

The reasons for doing this are varied, and of course include the freedom running your own business brings, the belief that you can do it better than other agencies and of course the financial and lifestyle benefits owning your own business can provide. Whilst all of this may sound great, creating a business, any business, that is profitable and sustainable will, of course, involve a lot of hard work. To help you get a better understanding of what you will need, we have created a breakdown of some of the most important issues surrounding the creation, development, and realisation of a successful and sustainable recruitment business.

Walk before you run

You know the recruitment industry inside-out, you have great professional contacts and you have a solid business plan – you are ready to fly and what’s stopping you? Well, nothing really. However, as with all new businesses, you are advised to take things slowly at first to ensure you have in place a defined structure for your business.

This is important as it enables you to much more easily handle the different stages of growth many businesses experience – from hiring your first employee to moving to larger premises. Whether you only wish to have a handful of employees or are looking to take your business to the next level and expand, having core structures in place is essential.

Of course, many business owners are ambitious and want their company to grow as much as possible. This ambition is, of course, understandable and perfectly fine as long your business has strong core foundations and you as the owner and it are flexible enough to be able to change.

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Play to your strengths

When operating your own recruitment agency, particularly if you are just starting out, it is only natural to look and perhaps follow what your competitors are doing. Whilst this is perfectly normal, and often necessary at times, it is also important to identify and remain true to your agency’s unique strengths. Such strengths could be the niche industry you operate in or the seniority of your workforce. Whatever your strengths are, it is important to stay true to them as they will help you remain focused and successful over the long term.

Thinking of the long-term success of your agency is important and recommended over taking short-term options such as basing decisions based on the previous year’s figures. Thinking of the bigger picture enables you to identify and focus on future opportunities – as well as promoting progression and providing employees with targets and motivation.

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Ask yourself the hard questions

As a business owner, it is crucial that you are clear and honest with yourself about every aspect of your business moving forward. This includes identifying the various growth engines of your business and expected future milestones. The following 12 questions are concerned with a business’ profitable growth and value creation. You should try to have answers to these questions.

  1. Are you attracting the right calibre of employee to match your future goals?
  2. Are the right leadership skills in place to ensure employees remain driven and satisfied?
  3. Do you have a strategy to ensure your best employees remain with you?
  4. Does your business have a positive culture of growth, profitability and customer experience?
  5. What is your brand and what does it stand for? Does your brand help attract new clients and talent?
  6. Do you have the internal systems in place to manage the future growth plans you have set?
  7. Are you too reliant on a small number of clients or do you have a good spread across different areas?
  8. Are you able to grow existing client accounts and see them expand?
  9. Are you expanding your market share in the niche areas that you are operating in?
  10. Do you have a healthy mixture of business – contract, permanent, retained, etc?
  11. Are you finding the right talent for your markets and improving your job-to-placement conversion rates?
  12. Are you achieving the required level of profitability and accurately measuring the right metrics for your business?

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Which growth engine is most important?

Whilst it may seem to many that growth and profit levels are the most obvious and therefore important aspects of a business. There is one factor that influences every aspect of your business much more than simply how successful you are. This is the reason why you are doing what you are doing. This reason is given many names, the ‘why’ or the ‘cause’, but they all refer to the same thing – the drive that makes you want your business to be successful, why your employees want to stay with you and drive your business forward, why your clients come to you and not your competitors.

This drive, your reason for running your business, cannot be as easily measured as other areas – yet impacts every aspect of your business, from employee happiness and retention to industry positioning and market penetration.

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Stay true to your beliefs

Staying true to these reasons is ultimately what will help set your business apart from your competitors and help create pride among your employees in what they and you are doing. Installing the right behaviours and beliefs in your employees will enable your business to drive forward. As with accounts and figures, the way you operate can also be measured, reviewed and improved. Such informal reviews can be done annually and help to ensure everyone is on message, as well as identify areas that have worked well and those that have not.

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Good luck!

As you can see, ensuring your recruitment agency is and remains successful over the long term depends on numerous factors, none more so than your own individual drive and beliefs. Solid planning, being true to yourself and playing to your strengths will go a long way to helping you succeed, that and a lot of hard work of course!