COVID-19 Q&A interview
Alex Grant, MD at Recruitment Funding Solutions answers some of the key questions we’re being asked during this difficult period.
These are the COVID-19 questions every (startup) recruiter needs answering
How has the lockdown period been for RFS and its teams?
Its obviously been very different from how we all normally work but, with the technology and processes we have in place, the business was always set up with the capacity for everyone to work remotely, if required. I’m very proud of the way in which our teams have adapted to the situation and some of the challenges that it has presented.
The way that everyone has embraced those challenges and dealt with them has been very pleasing and reassuring. You certainly learn a lot about your people when faced with situations that are outside of the norm.
How has Covid-19 impacted on your agency client base?
We work with a wide spread of agencies working in a variety of sectors and naturally certain sectors have been impacted more than others. As an example, the medical/ healthcare, logistics and merchandising sector agencies have seen increases in volume across the board but then the construction, education and manufacturing sector agencies have seen an inevitable decline in business levels. We have continued to invoice with many of our agencies, but the volumes have obviously changed as per sector. As with our teams, I have been really impressed with the responses of the agencies we deal with in relation to their dealing of this difficult situation. Many have furloughed staff, but the directors have generally continued to work themselves and have really shown great resolve to ensure that their businesses stay in good shape during this time.
What challenges does the temporary Recruitment Industry face as we gradually move out of lockdown?
I think there will inevitably be challenges for most sectors because of the virus but I do believe that the temporary recruitment space will come back fighting quite quickly. I really feel for certain sectors such as aviation, retail and hospitality as this situation will undoubtably continue to impact them years down the line. In terms of challenges to our sector, Insurance is something that is already a hot topic and the trade credit insurance market has already reacted across the board and moved to mitigate its exposure. Inevitably, and rightly so, insurers will seek further reassurance before providing credit insurance on companies that may be deemed to be risky to cover so this will perhaps present some challenges for agencies wanting to trade with clients that might fall into that category.
On the same note, the potentially increased risk of end clients falling into financial difficulty, as a result of Covid-19, is also something that agencies will want to be aware of and may make them tread a little more carefully with who they trade with. Away from risk, dependant on the sector, the need for an external, flexible workforce could reduce for a period as businesses look to reign in their spending while they ‘lick their wounds’ as a result of the pandemic.
How might Covid-19 have a lasting effect on recruitment businesses?
I think recruitment agencies, particularly the temporary workforce, will play a significant role in helping our economy to recover and, the uncertainty that Covid-19 has caused with businesses everywhere, could well result in an eventual increase in the need for temporary workers. As I said before, this will be industry dependant but in construction, for example, the government have made no secret of their desire to pump funds into infrastructure to get the economy going again. Projects still need to be finished. Unfortunately, like in many sectors, there may also be redundancies, therefore there could well be a crop of talented recruitment professionals in the market to hire or even start their own agencies. It will be interesting to see how this side of things unfolds.
What, if any, opportunities might there be as a result of Covid-19?
As I said earlier, there will be a requirement for temporary workers as we move out of lockdown and the flexible workforce in this country will play a big part in the recovery of our economy so I do think the opportunity to provide a flexible workforce will be there. I also think the things we are learning right now, in terms of how we are able to work, away from a formal office setting, will be giving people confidence in how they may be able to work moving forwards. I already have several clients that have opted not to renew the contract on their office space, choosing to enable staff to work from home instead. There are obvious cost benefits to doing this but, also, this is, perhaps an opportunity to address the issue of work life balance with your staff.
Can work from home scenarios be embraced moving forward as we come out of lockdown? I think in some scenarios, the answer will be yes. I don’t think businesses will all necessarily abandon an office environment, and personally, I think this is where a real team culture can be built so perhaps a mixture of working remotely and keeping an office base might be the answer for some. I have conversations, everyday with potential new start-ups asking the question “Will I need an office?” I think what we’re all going through right now, is demonstrating that it can be done remotely if you have the right people who are motivated to do a good job.
What advice would you give to anyone who may be considering starting a recruitment agency right now?
I think if it is something you have been considering, now might be the perfect time to take the leap. In some cases, where people may sadly be facing redundancy, it may actually be their best option. I think 10 years ago starting any business was perceived to be much more difficult in terms of the administration and knowledge that you might have needed. There just was not the same support available as there is now. Services like RFS can make, what might ordinarily feel like quite a daunting and time sapping process, become very straight forward and things can be set up extremely quickly.
Whereas in the past, you had so much to consider as an agency like ‘Who will run my back office? Who will chase my debt? How will I manage my payroll?’, nowadays services like ours literally take that pain away and you can instantly have a professional back office and funding service in place so that, even as a one person outfit, your clients will see a professional service from day one. It certainly helps to bridge the gap between smaller agencies and those organisations with hundreds of staff. Nowadays smaller agencies can offer as professional a service as their larger competition and compete with them on a level playing field. Ultimately starting any business comes down to the question ‘Do you back yourself?’ If the answer is yes, starting up in this industry is easier than you might think.
What, if any, assurances can you offer to any agencies worried about the future?
Right now, we’re in unchartered waters so, exactly how this will unfold in the longer term, we don’t yet know. Having said that, there are industries that this will impact harder than others and whilst I can see, certainly in the shorter to midterm, permanent recruitment placements being a little harder to make, I am confident, from all that I see and read, that the UK’s flexible workforce will be playing a big role in the recovery. I am therefore quietly confident in the temporary recruitment market and its recovery.
Right now, my advice would be to trade sensibly and carefully, be aware of those freak job orders for 100 workers starting tomorrow but for only 2 weeks work. There will be companies looking to finish jobs but not have the cash to pay right now so tread carefully on who you deal with. Whenever there are challenges to be faced, there also inevitable opportunities so look for those areas that you might be able to capitalise on in your niche. It’s also worth remembering, we’re all in the same boat with this. Every challenge that you’re facing, your competitors are also facing those challenges. Those that continue to do all the groundwork and not allow themselves to get lazy will come out in better shape.
Buy or build a recruitment website
So you’ve now taken the leap and have set up your own recruitment business, or are about to launch your recruitment startup and this is when your thoughts need to turn to some of the more practical elements associated with a new business. One of the key considerations, once you’ve decided on a company name, incorporated the business, identified and engaged a reputable funding provider (like RFS) is to consider your route to market.
These days, one of the foundation elements in developing that route to market is the creation of a company website. For many startup businesses these typically start off as lightweight online brochures, with a core system for advertising vacancies and accepting applications or enquiries. But the key consideration is whether to build this yourself or outsource and buy your website from external providers like marketing agencies.
Here are the five key considerations for buying or building a website.
Do you have the skills internally?
Developing a website yourself is easier than ever these days with services like Wix, Squarespace and WordPress. They’re all self-service tools that allow people to point, click and drag and with relatively little effort or skills, using the included templates on offer, a reasonable business website can be created. But what about adding and managing jobs? Or accepting applications? Or creating a news feed? Or integrating your newly-created social media accounts? Or how do you buy your domain name and link it to your website?
As you can see there are lots of additional skills-related questions you should ask before you dive in and create your web presence.
Do you have the time required?
When you’re launching a new business, you should be 100% focused on doing the things that will make a difference to your bottom line. In many cases, that should be all about sales and focusing on activities that drive sales. Designing, creating and populating a website all take time… and that’s after you’ve got to grips with whatever software or platform you’ve elected to use. That time could arguably be put to better use if you outsource creation of your website, although of course that will come with its own challenges of finding, briefing, managing and paying for that outsourced support.
Don’t forget about post-launch
Even after you launch the site, you’ll still have to consider backups, security, maintenance, improvements, etc. – and every one of these activities can be a distraction for a fledgling startup. Depending on the platform you’ve chosen or the system you’ve adopted, ongoing advertising of jobs, posting news and adding content to your website can vary in the amount of time and skill required. The more advanced systems that can help streamlines these processes, are often also more complicated to set up initially.
Think about costs
Although self-building your own website may seem like the lower cost option, there’s the cost of your time in creating and supporting your website. Would your time be better focused elsewhere – ie on actual sales?! Pricing for business users on WordPress starts around £7 per month, Wix starts around £8.50 per month, on Squarespace from £15 per month. On a positive note, all of these services also include the cost of your domain name for the first year too. Of course, if you’re more IT literate then you could self-host as well as self-build and this could lower the overall monetary costs, but this may require more of your time to manage.
Weigh up the risks
Weighing up the risks of build vs buy comes down to focus more than anything. In the early days of launching a new recruitment business, it’s absolutely critical that you focus on the things that will make a difference to your business. Outsourcing the creation of your website doesn’t have to cost the earth, especially if you engage niche providers, freelancers or other people with the skills, time and resources to do what you ask of them. The risk of not engaging others to build your website means your available time which should be spent on sales and building / growing your business, will now also need to accommodate your website work too.
Ten other website things you need to think about and questions you need to ask.
- Domain name – this is what you want your web address to be. Is it available? Can you register it? If you’re only focused on the UK then a .co.uk domain name is probably more appropriate than a .com one.
- Content – who’s going to write the content? Will you have a ‘news’ section and if so, can you commit to updating this regularly? What are your writing skills like? Do you need external help with this?
- Images – a full text website will be quite a dull thing to look at, so you’ll naturally want to include some suitable images to support your fledgling brand. You need to make sure that you have the legal right (copyright) to use the images you choose, so royalty free stock photography libraries like Pexels and Pixabay will certainly help here.
- SEO – Optimising each page of your website so that it is indexed and ranks well in search engines is critically important in the medium to long term. Do you have the knowledge or skills to do this? Many of the self-build services offer some basic tools, but a level of understanding of SEO is really needed to get the most out of this activity.
- Posting jobs – what’s the mechanism for doing this? And how will people apply? What happens to filled or expired jobs too… do they get de-listed or removed from the site automatically or is this something you’ll need to manually manage?
- Social media – you’ll want a social media presence, but you need to commit to maintaining it too. Basic social media activities involve just broadcasting your jobs, but how will you develop this and take it to the next level and really start engaging with your network? Your social media accounts should also be linked to your website too (and your email signatures).
- Promotion – how are you going to attract people to your website? Yes, you need a website to start with, but then you need to attract people to it. Make sure you include your web address in all your marketing activities and communications e.g. on your email signature, on your adverts, on any merchandise you order, etc.
- Contact forms – will you encourage people to contact you through the website? It makes sense to open this communication channel, but what will your forms look like? Don’t ask too many mandatory questions and put people off contacting you. And it’s good practice to set up an auto-responder so that people know their enquiry has been received.
- Security – Once you’ve created and published your website it’s important that you remain vigilant against any security breaches. Not only could a security breach be a GDPR infraction that potentially exposes personal information but could lead to your site being compromised or e-vandalised. Regular security updates, audits and site maintenance will be critical to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.
So whilst we can’t say decisively whether building or buying a website is the best option for you – as everyone’s different after all – we hope we’ve given you enough food for thought and helped you ask the questions you need to in order to reach your own decision.
Your first month as a recruitment agency owner
Once you have begun operating your own recruitment agency, it may suddenly dawn on you that your primary source of income is your own business! This can of course be very scary to some, especially if this is the first time you have started your own business.
However, don’t worry, help is on hand. To help make this transition as smooth as possible, and give you the best possible chance of succeeding, we have put together some information. From what to do in your first month, to how to make new contacts, the following tips are designed to help remove some of the pain involved in setting up your own recruitment agency.
Whilst this list is by no means exhaustive, it does contain some important details that we feel new recruitment agency owners need to know when first starting out. As such, you are also recommended to read as much as you can – not just about setting up a recruitment agency, but what you need to do to make a business venture a success.
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Create a schedule and stick to it
The freedom of being your own boss it likely one of the reasons why you first wanted to set up your own business. Such freedom is very desirable, and therefore wanting it is perfectly understandable. However, having a regular routine is very important as it provides you and your working day with much needed structure. If you do not put such a schedule in place, one of two things are likely to happen. First, you will either become lazy and not work as hard as you need as there is nothing in place to make you sit down and work when required. Second, if this does not happen, then the opposite usually does – that of working too much. Not only can this put a real strain on your health and personal relations but can result in you resenting the lifestyle you have chosen for yourself, and as a result, the very business you set up. Whatever your schedule is, ensure it remains achievable over the long time and enables you to work and have time for yourself.
Be careful with your money
With your new recruitment agency doing well and clients increasing, it is perfectly understandable to want to spend more. Of course, this may be necessary for expansion purposes, but a general rule for new businesses is to remain cautious when it comes to spending, at least initially. This is because things can change very quickly, and whilst one moment everything can be going well, circumstances out of your control can result in things taking a turn for the worst. To help combat against such a situation, you are advised to have emergency funds in place, as well as sticking to as small a budget as possible. Such behaviour will also give you peace-of-mind, knowing that you have funds and a budget in place should they be required.
Stay indoors and meet people
Growing your contact list and meeting people have traditionally been important aspects of running your own business. Of course, the internet has changed this, and many new businesses now operate exclusively online. Whilst this means that many people do not have to leave their homes to operate their business, it does not eliminate the need to meet people. This can be done both online and offline and is encouraged for new business owners. Such networking enables you to keep your social skills fresh, and of course can lead to new business opportunities. Joining online groups and reaching out to individuals through social media are great ways to meet new people and stay connected.
Remember to market your business
If you find yourself with a full client load, it is understandable that you may not be focusing on marketing your business. However, this is a mistake and as a business owner you are strongly advised to always be pitching for new work. This is of course to ensure that you can cope temporarily should your business experience a downturn, as well as attract new clients that will ensure your business remains sustainable. Simply put, do not rest on your laurels. Whilst you may be successful now, this is no guarantee that you will remain so in the future. It is therefore vital that you continue to look for new business opportunities to help your business grow and remain sustainable for the foreseeable future. Many of the most successful businesses around today can point to their ability to change and branch out into new business streams. You should therefore be flexible and aware enough to always be on the lookout for new opportunities.
Starting out on your own is of course very exciting. From leaving your old job and choosing the name of your business to registering it and getting your first client, there are many exciting milestones awaiting you. Of course, there are also many things you must learn, as well as a lot of hard work along the way. Remember, by planning a schedule and sticking to it, being frugal in your spending and becoming connected with like-minded business owners, you will be giving yourself the very best chance of getting it right in your first month and the many months that will follow. Recruitment is an increasingly important and growing industry in the UK – one that can make a very real difference to the people you find jobs for and the companies you are placing them with.
What entrepreneurs have in common
When looking at successful entrepreneurs, it is only natural to look for a pattern, something they all have that sets them apart from everybody else. Some point to education, where they grew up, or how rich their families were. Whilst it is undeniable that such factors can have a significant impact on how successful a person is, when looking at successful entrepreneurs, that is, those who have changed markets, a different pattern emerges, that of personality. It would seem that your personality, your mindset, your drive, are much more important than how many degrees you have when it comes to success.
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You have what it takes!
It is normal to look at the likes of Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson and think that they are different to the rest of us in some way, that they are a type-A person; academically excellent and incredibly ruthless. However, studies have shown that this just isn’t true. Research has revealed that the top two personality traits shown by entrepreneurs are perception and intuition. This suggests that success isn’t dependent on being the smartest, but rather it comes to those individuals who can identify opportunities and take them. To further breakdown the common traits of successful entrepreneurs and show you that you can have these also, we have put together the following five common personality traits.
All successful entrepreneurs share a passion for what they do. Whilst money and success are of course important, they are not the sole drivers behind their success, initially, there has to be a passion for what you do. This passion is evident in the time and effort needed to be put into a successful business. From the long hours required, the extra work and of course the responsibilities. That is why passion is so important – you need to love what you are doing so that all this hard work doesn’t serve to put you off.
Staying focusing on your dream makes such hard work possible. Successful business people understand this and embrace hard work, often long after they need to. Steve Jobs, the iconic leader of Apple, once stated, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
Motivate yourself and others
Being a leader means you have to remain motivated yourself and be able to motivate those around you. Having this drive to succeed is essential and often comes from the passion and love they have for their business. It is this passion, and their ability to pass this onto others that often makes successful entrepreneurs very successful entrepreneurs. Knowing your vision and being able to clearly communicate this to others is important. If you want your staff to invest in your company, your dream, then you need to be able to pass your passion to them, to make them want to join you on your journey.
The glass is half full
With all the stresses related to starting out on your own, it is understandable to become a bit pessimistic sometimes. It is important to try and eliminate such thinking. Successful business people are often positive, very positive. They focus on opportunities and the future rather than obstacles and what could have been. This ability to stay positive can, of course, be difficult, but it can be made much easier if you stay true to your plan. By remaining clear in your goals and ensuring your team is also, will help you on your path to success. Staying to your plan and knowing your goals will help you and others to remain positive. Try to always ensure that everything you do has a purpose and that this purpose is aimed at helping you realise your goals.
Think outside the box
Creativity is another common trait found among successful entrepreneurs. Their ability to look at things from another angle, to see things differently, is often what makes them so successful in the future. Businesses are often formed on big ideas, and these ideas usually come from looking at an issue in a creative way – differently from the usual. This ability, desire to think outside of the box enables you to improve existing processes, to identify new opportunities. Such thinking has led to ideas that have changed the world. Whilst you are not expected to change the world just yet, the more you think creatively the easier the process becomes and the more likely you are to come across good ideas.
As has been mentioned, successful business people are not opposed to taking risks. When starting your own business, you too must exhibit such bravery, understanding that risk-taking is a natural part of running a business. You must be clear in the knowledge that in order to realise your goals and dreams, you must take risks from time to time. Remaining safe and complacent will prevent you from achieving greatness, and you should therefore not be afraid to take a leap of faith now and again. You should try to view such risks as opportunities, to focus on the rewards rather than the risks involved.
The secret to success
It is perfectly normal to look at successful people to try and learn how they do it and get tips that you can follow yourself. When doing this, you will likely begin to see that the habits of some of the most successful business people are based on philosophic beliefs that proclaim the benefits of living within one’s means. This belief that stoicism and staying humble are important aspects of success can be witnessed in the words and actions of some of the world’s most successful business people, such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.
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Do as others do
When it comes to living stoically, it may seem strange to look for tips from some of the world’s richest individuals. However, as you will see, many of these people do not measure their wealth in terms of expensive cars and clothes. Warren Buffett, the famous and much lauded American CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is well known for his frugal lifestyle, apparently never paying more than a few dollars for breakfast and remaining in the same home he purchased for less than $40,000 in 1958.
Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of Ikea, is one of the world’s richest individuals with a personal worth of approximately $60 billion. Whilst such riches would enable him to buy any vehicle in the world – regardless of cost – according to Bloomberg News, Kamprad drove an old Volvo for more than 20-years; only giving up the vehicle after being persuaded by his daughter that driving such an old car could be dangerous.
Similar examples of such frugality include that of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder, and CEO of Facebook. Young, rich and powerful, Zuckerberg could be forgiven for driving to work in a supercar. Instead, he prefers to drive a normal, everyday car worth less than $30,000 because, in his worlds, “It is safe, comfortable and not flashy.”
So why do these billionaires choose to spend so little when they could spend much more without it making any real difference to their worth? We will now look at why these individuals place more worth in other areas, and what these areas are.
Don’t live beyond your means
Wherever we look, again and again, we can see examples of rich individuals living way below their means. One such example is Lebron James, the famous US basketball player with a net worth of around $440 million, who refuses to pay for expensive subscriptions, preferring free WIFI and music-streaming sites instead. Staying with US sports, there are numerous other stories of athletes earning millions of dollars every year but who have limited their spending to just a few thousand dollars each month.
Like Buffett and Zuckerberg, these individuals have chosen a lifestyle way below their means; exhibiting spending habits that show their focus for being successful lies elsewhere from money. Just because these individuals are extremely wealthy, it does not mean that wealth is their driving focus. Being clear about what matters to them provides them with clarity and freedom. This freedom is a freedom from possessions and is important as it enables these individuals to concentrate on what makes them happy.
Admit you do not know everything
Billionaire and humble are not two words that you would normally associate with each other. However, many of these individuals are the first to admit that they do not know everything. Such successful business people are often ferocious readers – understanding the need to continue to learn in order to be successful. Such understanding that there is always more to learn is not a new discovery, with Socrates himself stating, “All I know is that I know nothing.”
The understanding and acceptance that we can be wrong are important. Once we realise that imperfection and failure are perfectly natural and that there is no shame in being wrong – we can much more easily move forward and focus on what really matters. Making mistakes is an important part of life and enables us to learn from such events. It was Einstein who famously said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Time can be your most valuable asset
Of all their many assets, successful individuals know the importance of time. Our time is valuable, and therefore anything and everything we can do to make the best use of it is encouraged. However, whilst we may be protective of some of our assets, such as physical property, we are often less concerned with our time and what we do with it. One simple way of better protecting our time is saying no to requests. Whilst we are not saying you cannot help people, you must ensure that others do not set your agenda in life. As Buffett himself states, “You have to keep control of your time, and you can’t unless you say no.” When saying no, remember why you are doing so – that of protecting your time and energy so that you can focus on what is important to you. Remember, time should be considered your most valuable asset, and one that you cannot buy more of.
Taking the leap and starting your own business.
There is no doubt that starting your own business is a big decision. Whilst many people have great ideas for a business, only a small percentage actually start out on their own. This is because there are a large number of risks involved in starting your own business. From financial risks to those of security and the consequences of failure, there are numerous factors that you must consider before starting off. Such risks can be seen in a large number of new businesses that fail each year in the UK. Whilst many such businesses will often have great products and ideas, only a small percentage will actually go on to become high-turnover companies.
To help you get the best start possible, we have put together the following tips designed to let you know what is involved and what you can do to improve the chances of your business becoming a success.
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Know your stuff
It may seem obvious, but if you are going to start your own business, it is important that you know everything you can about it. You must, therefore, research the sector you wish to operate in, look at potential clients, identify your strengths and of course learn about your competition. Doing this will give you a much better chance of succeeding over the long term. Once you have done your research, you will be in a better position to create a realistic and effective business plan. This does not mean you are expected to become an expert in all areas. However, the more you know, the more you will be able to sell your ideas and vision to others. Being passionate about what you are doing is half the battle – love what you are doing, and the rest should come naturally.
Make the leap
Once you have done your research, identified your strengths and have a clear understanding of what you need to do to succeed, you are ready to take your first risk – that of starting your own business. All businesses, of course, have the potential to fail. However, if you have done your research and believe in yourself and your business, you can make it. Starting your own business is a bit like taking a leap of faith, you must have faith in yourself and your abilities if you are to succeed. By working hard and knowing your stuff, you will be giving yourself a much better chance of succeeding. Whilst you will be expected to take risks, this doesn’t mean you have to be reckless. By taking calculated risks that take into account all factors, you will be able to reduce risk and increase your chances of succeeding.
It is often not enough to simply know that your competitors exist. You must be prepared to take these on in order to succeed. If you believe you offer a better product/service, then tell people so. Do not be afraid to take on your competitors just because they are bigger and more established. Customers often do not care about such issues, and if you are offering something that is an improvement on others, they will want to know about it. Doing your research and understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses will make it much easier for you to then exploit these to your own benefit. Of course, this doesn’t mean acting in an underhand manner. Rather, you are simply looking at what they are not offering and providing this service to customers who want it. Such business practices are what capitalism is based on. When looking at your competitors, remember, it is highly likely that they have or will be doing exactly the same to you.
Make use of the internet
There is no doubting that technology has changed virtually every aspect of modern business. This can come in many forms and knowing what these will help you better take advantage of them. Firstly, with so much information now available on the internet, you would be foolish to ignore it. Once exclusively found in expensive business schools, there is now a wealth of information for entrepreneurs looking to set up their first business. From blogs and webinars to online education courses and government resources, you can now get expert advice, often completely free. Other valuable resources will include advice regarding your legal and tax requirements, as well as any available funding, such as grants for new businesses. Not only will you be learning more, but you will also be saving money with the knowledge you gain. Furthermore, such online resources are often two-way. This means if you have a specific question, you can ask this online – enabling you to see a variety of views and answers, and perhaps helping you find the solution you need.
Unique selling point
When starting out, it is important to know what your Unique Selling Point (USP) is. This is what you believe will stand your business out from others, what sets you apart, what will help your business become a success. Your USP can take many forms, be it your experience, your staff, the market you operate in or the types of clients you deal with. Being clear about your USP is vital, and you really need to be clear about this before anything else. Knowing your USP will enable you to then create a business plan that makes the best use of this – helping you to make a niche in your targeted area and working your way to becoming a market leader.
How to survive the initial storm when starting your own business.
Perhaps the biggest initial stress for most when starting a business is finance. Suddenly you’re responsible for your own finances, no longer relying on a monthly salary from an employer. This can be very daunting to many, and often takes a while to adjust to. Furthermore, when operating your own business, you will likely be responsible for the livelihoods of others. This alone can be very stressful and will alter how you look at your business and the decisions you will have to make.
Understanding this, we have put together the following tips. These tips are designed to help you better survive during the initial, scary stage of your business – not only helping you to reduce stress but also avoid some common pitfalls and give your business the best chance of succeeding.
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Get a routine
When working for yourself it’s easy to become distracted. Suddenly finding yourself with lots of time on your hands will, of course, feel great at first. However, enjoy it too much and you may find yourself forgetting that this free time is actually when you are supposed to be working. Another common problem is the opposite – that of you working too much and becoming burnt out. Both are just as fatal to new businesses and therefore should be avoided at all costs. The trick is striking a balance between the two.
If you are working at home, set aside an area in which you can sit down and work for a set period of time without distraction. Doing this every day will give your day structure and enable you to find a balance between when you should be working and when you should be relaxing. Knowing when to switch between the two is important and will help you more easily distinguish between the two. Of course, working for yourself will mean you can be flexible in setting such working periods, and this is a huge benefit to most. However, it should never be forgotten that you are now the boss and therefore you will only get out of your business what you put into it.
Be careful with your finances
When starting out on your own, there will, of course, be various expenses. Whilst it’s understandable to want the best for your business at first, you must be cautious and keep an eye on your spending. This is recommended even if you find yourself doing well straight away. This is because business conditions can often change quickly and without warning. By being careful with your spending and keeping a certain level of money saved, you will be able to much better survive such events should they happen. Such periods of high and low business are common for new businesses. How such periods are endured is often the difference between successful and unsuccessful businesses. Keeping emergency funds for such events also provides important peace-of-mind to you and any employees you may have.
Don’t do it alone
When working for yourself, it’s easy to become slightly disconnected from the rest of the world. Modern business practices and technology now means that more and more people are working from home – needing nothing more than a laptop and smartphone. Many new recruitment agency owners will find themselves in this position – often working exclusively either on their phone or the internet, and rarely meeting clients face-to-face. Whilst this is understandable, new business owners are still recommended to get out into the real world and meet others. This can take many forms, from making the effort to visit a client’s premises, to attending a local event. Such interactions not only help you to improve your social skills but often lead to new relationships being formed and business opportunities created.
Ironically, such groups of like-minded individuals are often most easily found online – of course, you will then hopefully meet in real! These groups can often be great sources of industry information and help you to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and issues. Remember, there are many people just like you who are either starting out on their own or now running successful businesses. You can learn lots from both, as they can learn from you, and so by sharing information, you will be giving yourself a greater chance of succeeding.
Don’t keep still
You may have a full book of clients and working to your capacity, if you are, congratulations! When everything is going great, it is understandable to think less or even at all about what could go wrong. However, as you will likely learn, business is unpredictable; one minute a client loves you and the next they are gone. It is therefore very important to ensure that you continue to market your business and keep your eyes out for new opportunities all the time. This helps you not only be better prepared for any slowdowns in business but will also likely present opportunities for you to expand your business should you want to.
As you can see, there are a lot of things you will need to remember when first starting out on your own. From watching what you spend to speaking to business owners, there are a number of things you can do that will help you better handle the numerous obstacles you are likely to face when creating your own employment agency. Make use of all the resources available to you and do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. We hope you have found the above tips useful. Remember, every successful business first began with an idea and a risk being taken.
How to be an effective leader
When starting up your own business, it’s likely that you will be required to hire staff at some point. When this happens, you will have to decide what type of boss you wish to be. Of course, everyone believes they will be a great boss, but putting this into practice can often be difficult. Many people believe there are only two options; that of being the tyrannical boss that dominates everyone through fear, and the opposite, that of being seen as one of the team, a friend.
However, as you can imagine, neither is seen as being better than the other, with there being advantages and disadvantages to both. Research has shown that when angry, leaders are perceived as being powerful in a more traditional sense, but when sensitive, these bosses are seen as being more powerful in a personal sense. The trick, of course, is striking a balance between the two; being a boss that is both respected and liked by your employees.
To help you better understand what is involved in this delicate balance, we have put together the following information relating to the advantages and disadvantages of being either a strict boss or one that is friendlier with employees.
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Being a feared leader
There is no denying that there are some perceived benefits to being a leader feared by employees. Such fear can, of course, help to create attentive and cooperative employees. Such bosses are often seen by employees as being powerful, of having the authority within an organisation to be able to punish others – whether this was true or not. Should leadership through fear can, of course, be a motivator, but how effective and for how long are a different matter and can ultimately lead to strained relationships.
However, whilst such leaders were seen to have strong disciplinary power, they were also said to have weak referent power. Referent power describes the ability of a leader to influence others through empathy. Having this ability is vital to earning trust and commitment from employees and therefore this can be very difficult for bosses to achieve if others view them as being strict and unapproachable.
In conclusion, fear can only go so far and is not recommended as a way to operate a business. True leadership is a blend of mutual respect and trust, with employees much preferring leaders who attract respect through the way they conduct themselves over those who simply demand it.
Being a loved leader
If you do not want to be a feared leader, perhaps you would like to be a loved one instead? Leaders who are loved by their employees are often seen as having more of a personal connection with them; seen as being more of a colleague rather than a boss. Studies have revealed that there are business advantages to this approach. These benefits include employees feeling more connected to bosses because they appear vulnerable and show their emotions. Employees can more easily identify and relate to such traits, which in turn increases the amount of personal power you as their boss will possess.
It is not rocket science to see that treating your employees fairly and with respect will result in a happier workforce. It is your task to balance their enjoyment at work with their desire to push forward and make your business a success. Being liked or loved by your employees is important, but you should always remember that you are their boss and therefore the decisions you make will have a very real impact on their lives.
Being a boss is not easy, there are many things you have to consider, as well as remembering that you have the power of an employees’ welfare. Such responsibility should not be taken lightly, and you should, therefore, take your duties as an employer very seriously. A happy workforce is essential to the longevity and success of your business and their happiness will in no small amount depend on how you treat them. To most, such advice may seem just like common sense. Even if this is true, you should strive to always remember the importance of your relationship with your employees and constantly and regularly assess it to make any necessary improvements.
Your employees should be an asset to your business, helping you achieve your vision for your business. What works for one type of business may not be suitable for another. However, as we have shown, to be successful and create a workforce that believes in you and your business involves a delicate balance. Your employees must be able to respect you and believe in you to want to help you succeed, whilst at the same time they must be aware of the relationship, that they are an employee and you are the boss. Get this right and your business will have a much better chance of succeeding.
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.