We’ve taken the views of some of the elite of the recruitment world and one thing they all stress for a recruitment start-up is the importance of laying proper foundations – beginning with the end in mind and having clear written goals and objectives towards that end. Self-evident? It’s amazing how many companies skip that step in favour of the more obvious need to just get on with the job!
Lucy Tarrant of Cognitive Law stresses the importance of a good legal framework: “In the initial excitement of launching a new company it is easy to overlook slightly less sexy legal requirements such as the Memorandum and Articles of Association, despite the fact that these lay the building blocks for the structure of the company. The ‘Mem & Arts’, as they are often referred to, are the company rules e.g.: the purpose of the business and who is allowed to do what.”
Once underway you must establish clear terms of business. Bear in mind that these will go with you throughout the time you are trading so it pays to invest in proper legal expertise. Lucy goes on to say “It is not unusual for the directors of start up recruitment companies to “borrow” terms of business they have used in their previous roles. Then they adapt them, often with catastrophic legal consequences.”
Whether you specialise in permanent or temp/contract staff, in the early months its likely your cash will be flowing out more rapidly than it’s flowing in. Poonam Mawani of Azuki Accounts say “Invoice discounting is now an extremely useful and valuable tool for recruitment companies, particularly as they establish themselves. Talk to your bank and enlist their support in finding the best solution for you”.
In parallel with ensuring the legal and financial structure of the business is on a firm footing, you need to create a strong brand, an identity that encapsulates your values. It needs to be very clear, simple and succinct!
Remember that your marketing must always be active, as Alison Wilby of Maximus Marketing says – “Establishing an online presence is just the start of your marketing journey. Recruitment companies were one of the first to embrace social media – LinkedIn, in particular is the go-to resource for recruiters. Take your brand to LinkedIn and Twitter and engage with candidates, clients and potential clients there, not just with information about your company but with interesting snippets of advice, industry news, relevant legal changes and so on. Write engaging blogs regularly for your website, always with your target audience in mind”.
Fast forward a few years and, with careful management, procedures and marketing, you are now looking to sell your business. What should you bear in mind at this stage? Alan McBride of Camino Partners – “ A good exit will require growth and scale but will also depend on good housekeeping, clean accounts, good compliance and low risks (e.g spread of revenue between key clients, key fee earners, etc). It also requires there to be more growth to come so there is a rationale for a buyer to purchase.”
Kirsty Senior of CitrusHR picks up the point about good housekeeping – “all your HR matters need to be up to date, and in a format that is easy to hand over. Any exit will go more smoothly if all staff have up to date contracts of employment, that there are not unresolved employee disputes, and that you can demonstrate that you have organised and effective HR processes in place.”
Running through your business from start up to exit have been your IT systems, steadfastly working in the background. “To reduce the barriers of growth, you need reliable and well maintained IT systems with downtime and interruption to the working day at an absolute minimum. Understanding the true cost of lost productivity is a great exercise to carry out and makes IT decision-making far easier. From an exit perspective, it is imperative to be able to demonstrate continued and sustained investment in your technology systems, properly documented processes and procedures and, perhaps most importantly, that systems are correctly used – protecting the IP of the business” – Carlton Brailey, Granite IT Consulting Ltd.
The path of your business from growth to exit need not be a lonely one. There are companies there to help you every step of the way with specialist advice and support, to leave you free to build the business.