Women In Recruitment | Could you be tomorrow’s female recruitment entrepreneur?
Women in Recruitment is supported by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), and sponsored by Barclays plc and Squire Patton Boggs. The Committee members are all passionate about ensuring that the industry we have worked in for many years continues to offer exciting but meritocratic opportunities for everyone within it.
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Could you be tomorrow’s female recruitment entrepreneur?

As I’ve been asked by WIR to write something for their members, I have been thinking about the female recruitment business owners I have worked with over the years, working as a N.E.D. and advisor in the recruitment industry.

It’s a very small proportion of the total. About 10 %, tops.

Those that do start businesses also have a high representation of women who do this for lifestyle reasons. They enjoy recruitment, but they want greater control of their hours. They are running lifestyle businesses, rather than looking to grow something substantial.

Let me be very clear – there’s nothing wrong with running a lifestyle business – it can be very satisfying. But if you really want to build something sustainable, that might produce some capital value for you in the future, a different approach is essential.

I have also observed that women are much less likely to invest in their own development than men. They regard this as a luxury, while most of the male business owners/directors I work with have an expectation that they will need to pay for professional help.

Thirdly, and stereotypically, many capable women are lacking in the confidence to take the business risk of setting up by themselves. They focus on what they can’t do, or what others may do better.

I have lots of sympathy for that. In my 30s I had four young children and I had worked only for big listed companies. I couldn’t imagine taking the risk of starting on my own- why would any client engage with me?

Here are some comments from new recruitment business owners of both genders:

“I’m highly motivated, but I just can’t get the right people!”

“I’m so busy servicing clients, I don’t have any time to spend with an advisor”

“I just can’t afford to spend money on professional advice”

“I’ve got a 10 year plan. What is it? To work my balls off for 10 years and then retire!”

If that’s the sort of thing you say, even to yourself, then I’ve got news for you…

It won’t happen until you start to do things differently. And that starts with thinking about yourself differently.

Are you really an entrepreneur who is going to grow a successful business? OR are you a recruitment consultant who fancies maxing out on the dividends each year and having your name on the door?

If you are a women considering becoming a recruitment entrepreneur, in many ways the timing has never been better. We have a more “gender woke” workforce than ever before. Some supplier tenders will even prioritise you as a female business owner.

So, I urge you to start considering whether you could be a recruitment business leader by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Other than any immediate mentor, how do you compare to your current colleagues in terms of performance, work ethic and client/candidate relationships? If they have left and set up a business, were you surprised?

If you have a good plan, realistic expectations and strong client relationships, the risk of starting a business can be very small.

  1. How much time and money have you invested in your own development in the past year? If you are currently an employee, have you sought out and asked for learning and responsibility? Have you networked, sought advice from external experts, read widely? If all you can do is a pale shadow of your current employer, maybe don’t bother.
  2. If you are looking to set up a business in the same sector you have always worked in, can you quantify what specifically you have done/will do to improve the offering for candidates and clients?
  3. Have you got hard, quantitative evidence about your target market that proves you perform better than your competitors (I’m not talking anecdotal evidence or hearsay)?
  4. Be honest- do you actually enjoy managing people? If you’re starting a business you’ll have to be trainer, mentor, conflict resolver, office manager, disciplinarian, friend…. the list goes on.

If you generally find you are irked by this, consider whether you should have a partner, or create a model with associates rather than employees. Beware though, it is very difficult to drive through standards, processes and change with associates.

  1. Are you prepared to work exceptionally hard, at least for the first year? I’m talking 60 hour weeks here.
  2. Do you need expert support to put together a decent business plan, especially if you want to raise some investment?
  3. Do you have the finance in place that you need? If your model requires investment in online tools, marketing, do you have capital? If you take investment from an outside party, think carefully how much of your business you are prepared to give away and what else you will get from that person apart from seed money. This may include introductions or coaching.

Your start-up business may be worth nothing now now, but how will you feel in 5 years when that 40% is worth £1million to someone who hasn’t lifted a finger, while you have done all the work? Consider loans and the long term value of the business.

  1. Make sure you understand the law as it relates to your business and the obligations of a company director. I’ve met a fair few who had no idea they had to file at Companies House, get PI and EI, and have staff policies. Ignoring these things could cost you your business.

Be really honest with yourself. If your answer to most of these is “No” or “Not sure”, then I recommend you examine your motivations again. If you want the growth and results that some top businesses achieve, you need to invest in your business, and yourself.

If you’re up for that, then please get in touch with Alison Humphries at Recruitment Leadership Ltd for proven, knowledgeable and up-to-date support that will accelerate that growth Alison@recruitmentleadership.co.uk. www.recruitmentleadership.co.uk.