Starting a recruitment agency: 4 essential things you need to get off the ground

Many people dream of starting their own recruitment agency, but few turn that dream in to a reality – often simply because they don’t know where to start.

Even if you can spot a gap in the market – something we discussed in our previous start-up blog, finding your USP – and can see a better way of doing things than your current agency, there are many practicalities that must be considered when launching your own business.

If you’re filled with ambition but need a helping hand getting off the ground, here are four things you need to put in place for a successful recruitment agency set-up.

1. Office space

The first challenge to tackle is where you’re going to be based. Many start-ups are founded around the kitchen table, which keeps overheads down in terms of rent, utilities and furniture.

However, as a new recruitment agency, you will be arranging appointments with potential clients and contractors. Therefore, you need to think about how these will be conducted if you’re working from home. You may be happy to host meetings at your house, but there are other options available too – local coffee shops, flexible office spaces like Regus, telephone calls and Skype conferences.

However, if you’d prefer to have an official permanent base for client appointments, you may decide that renting a shared office space is a better set-up than working from home – even if it’s the costlier option.

2. Corporate insurance

Legislation and compliance are often forgotten by entrepreneurs, but they are essential for protecting your livelihood during the unpredictable first days of a new business. For example, make sure you take out a corporate insurance policy to cover your company in the event of accidents, theft, financial losses and other risk factors.

Additionally, you may want to strengthen your knowledge on employment law and business practice, to ensure you are following legal best practice and safeguarding the interests of yourself, your contractors and your clients.

3. A promotional strategy

Even the best start-up in the world will fall on its feet if nobody has heard of you, so a strong marketing strategy is essential to your recruitment agency’s early success.

Before you start, think carefully about the name of your business, and set yourself up as a limited company. You’ll also need a professional-looking website – so make sure the name of your agency is also available as a straightforward website URL.

Once you have these basic brand pillars in place, then you need to consider how you are going to promote your business. GDPR data protection legislation makes it challenging to conduct email marketing, but social media is a cost-effective alternative for raising your brand profile within relevant regions and industries.

4. An operational infrastructure

Cash flow is king for small businesses, and back-office set-up is just as important to your financial success as securing client contracts.

There are certain operational requirements that need to be ticked off the list – opening a business bank account, for example – and you may also want to employ an accountant to ensure your books are compliant and up-to-date at all times.

However, in the early days of starting your agency, you will need to think carefully about operational decisions such as whether to take on additional staff. Many hands make light work, but manpower is a significant investment for small businesses.

One way in which start-up recruitment agencies can keep costs down is to invest in back-office software that takes care of your day-to-day administration. Using technology to manage essential processes such as formatting and submitting contractor timesheets, processing expense claims, filing invoices and chasing payments can work out much cheaper than hiring additional members of staff – and leave you free to concentrate on business development.

Even if you decide to expand your team further down the line, recruitment back-office tools ensure that your new hires are concentrating on value-add tasks that help to grow your agency, rather than becoming weighed down by everyday admin.

Back-office software can support your small business cash flow in other ways, too. If you’re planning to specialise in temporary or fixed-term contract recruitment, any contractors you place may need to be paid on a weekly basis, but it can take up to 30 days to receive payment for their services from your client. Back-office technology ensures that invoices are processed and sent out as soon as possible, and automatically chased up for quicker payment.

ETZ has launched Startup 20/20, a back-office platform for start-up recruitment agencies that automates your vital operational processes. Schedule a free demo to see it for yourself.

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