What changes when you become the boss?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, right? There are often situations in all of our lives where we probably would have done things differently had we known the outcomes or obstacles that got in the way.
Now more than ever, with the impact of the pandemic shifting the way many recruiters are living their lives and setting up their own businesses, in lots of cases having never considered doing so previously or deciding in a rush; there is a cacophony of new recruitment owners crying “I wish I knew that before I started!”
Of course, there are always going to be some lessons we have to learn through making mistakes, but if you’re setting up your own recruitment company then going in with your eyes wide open is going to save you a LOT of time, money and stress!
So here are the most important things to watch out for:
Don’t assume you already know everything!
Granted, part of what makes a great salesperson is their confidence, but assuming you know it all already is a dangerous game to play. As a consultant, getting the placement up on the board and over the line is the focus, but as the boss you can’t leave the background processes up to chance.
Ensuring contractors are compliant, timesheets sent, temps are paid, getting your invoices raised and settled, navigating the recruitment legislation and chasing up your own debtors can not only spiral out of control but eat into your time that would be better spent recruiting. Surround yourself by experts in their fields and get support. Trying to save money by skimping in the short term will cost you and your business in the long term; that’s a fact.
Worrying about things like IR35
Sick of hearing about it? Maybe. Intimidated by it? Don’t be. Things like upcoming legislative changes are no reason to be concerned, and similarly no reason to wait for the dust to settle before starting your business. In truth, there is nothing particularly complicated happening – there will just be some awkward conversations to have with some of your temps which will happen whether you’re still working at an agency or working for yourself.
Again, if you find the right support at the beginning you will have no issues and no reason to look back later on regretting the time you wasted worrying about legislation!
Spending time [and money] on the wrong things
It’s exciting, starting your own business, and it is really easy to get swept up in things that just don’t matter. You want your branding and key marketing strategies in place from the start but be realistic – don’t spend your precious resources in the early days building and tinkering with a fancy website that no-one is going to see, or writing and rewriting your company values! Working tirelessly on internal procedures and processes may seem like a good use of your time but your company will grow and adapt with you. Let year two be the time when you focus in on the confetti; use year one to generate cash flow.
Having a plan for cashflow
On the topic of cash flow – one of the potentially most show stopping obstacles to a new freelance recruitment business is generating and managing your cash flow. But it doesn’t need to be.
One of the first things to be done when setting up your business is to find a support company that can manage this for you because if you’re running temps, then they need to be paid before you get the cash in from your clients; you can read more advice on this here. Do not let poor planning in this department be on your list of hindsight regrets!
Ignoring your company and personal brands
So, you’re spending time on the right things; business development and networking. That’s great! But remember that traditional methods of growing your business and generating candidates are starting to lose out to newer ones.
You can be building up both your company and personal brands from the very first day you start your company on LinkedIn and other social media platforms more specific to your industry, and the impact will be cumulative.
Do some research into this, or find people to help you and start from day one. By the time you get to year two your leads could be coming to you entirely inbound!
Do not cut yourself off
A real potential threat not just to the success of your business, but to the condition of your health in general is the risk of getting isolated. Even more so now than ever, with working from home becoming normality, setting up your own business means you will no longer have a team around you or people necessarily checking in, supporting, inspiring, competing with or even just having a laugh with you.
There are however communities of peers, back-office support providers who get what you’re going through, groups on social platforms like LinkedIn and Clubhouse and support networks for you to plug yourself into. Help and inspiration is out there, as well as groups of like-minded recruitment owners to get involved with.
Going it alone doesn’t have to be lonely and you will regret cutting yourself off from your peers further down the road.
The biggest change when you become your own boss is of course the responsibility. Not just for your livelihood, but more directly for your candidates and client’s success than ever before.
But preparing properly and surrounding yourself with people that know what they’re talking about will make all the difference; people that know the potential pitfalls you’ll be facing and can help you navigate that crucial first year or two of business.
Go in with your eyes wide open and you’ll keep your future self singing your praises with a short list of regrets!