When you first start out as the owner of a recruitment business, you may find it difficult to let go of the reins and trust others to take responsibility for the day-to-day tasks of running your business, let alone making important decisions. But by always hovering over shoulders, being reluctant to hire new people when you need to, or by trying to do everything yourself, you may find that the biggest obstacle to what could be a very scalable, successful business is actually you!
It’s a harsh realisation, but you’re not alone - it’s not unusual for small business owners to take a micro view, because letting go of the reins is unsettling. Even if you’ve got great ideas, great people skills, and fantastic growth potential, if you don’t let go of the reins and take a macro view of your organisation, then you’re not only limiting your own success, but the invaluable services that you could be offering clients and candidates alike.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to make the transition easier, so that your recruitment business can go on to do amazing things.
1. Hire the right people.
It’s important to acknowledge that some of these insecurities and “what-ifs” are indeed legitimate. A bad hire can be very costly for an organisation, especially when you’re in the process of building a reputation. Your employees are acting under your brand name and it is your reputation that is at stake which frankly, can be more than a little scary.
So, what can you do about this?
Hire people you trust, who share your vision and want to grow the business with you.
Don’t hire too quickly before you’re comfortable that you’ve found the right candidate, and don’t be swayed too much by charm over talent. Err on the side of caution, but try to find a balance - you wouldn’t let just anybody housesit while you’re out of town for a month, but that’s not a reason to let all your plants wilt. The same goes for hiring - there are great candidates out there, and fear of finding them isn’t a reason to bottleneck your business.
Many of the most successful businesses look for ideas anywhere and everywhere in their organisation. Whether it’s a mail room, a factory line or the guy who changes the water filter, hierarchy is no barrier to creativity. The leaders of many of the world’s most successful businesses know this, and proactively seek feedback. This is a wonderful practice to put into place in your own business - instead of telling your staff what the solutions are, you’re likely to find that collaborative brainstorming can lead to incredibly valuable innovation.
Great minds in a room together often come up with ideas that couldn’t have occurred if they were acting alone. By encouraging a culture of collaboration and innovation right from the beginning, you’ll be doing your business a favour when it grows, too.
This is also a great reason to hire people who are great at the things that aren’t your field of expertise. Instead of hiring “just-like-mes” aim for diversity - it brings so much to the table. Surround yourself with talented people, and instead of running your business top-down, cultivate the “down” to become all that it can be.
3. Plan for growth.
Where do you see the organisational structure of your business in a year, two years, or five years?
One way to help encourage you to take the plunge out of the nest and discover how well you fly is to create a draft plan for structural growth. Conceptualise what you would like your business to look like if insecurities and self-limiting thoughts weren’t factors. Contemplate what your business could look like if it was going great - a thriving business innovating, collaborating, and achieving great things for happy clients. Imagine yourself in five years looking back at everything you’ve achieved.
4. Leave your ego at the door.
Part of letting go of the reins is truly coming to terms with the idea that other people can wear the same hats and do just as good a job as you. They may even wear their hat better! There’s no shortage of stories of highly successful business people who started out at the very bottom of the ladder, and who worked their way to the top not only because they had the potential to do so, but because that potential was recognised.
When you hire someone for entry-level work, don’t think of them as being “entry-level”; one day, they might even become a CEO of a business that you’re trying to land as a client, or they might be the person you hand your own business down to when you retire. You don’t know how much potential someone has until you encourage them to explore it.
It is important to realise that you cannot wear all the hats, and that you shouldn’t try to do so. Overworking until you burn out isn’t a badge of honour, and it’s likely to do your business more harm than good. If you do actually feel like you have to hover over your employees’ shoulders all the time, then they probably shouldn’t be part of your business in the first place. The best business leaders aren’t the ones who do everything, they’re the ones who inspire others to do their best.
Not only are there only so many hours in one day, but there’s only so many things that you can be an expert in. Delegating non-core tasks means that you have more time for your core business. Letting go of the reins means trusting people to do their jobs, and you’ll generally find that employees who are trusted and given responsibility will appreciate it, and won’t disappoint.
While it’s often highly effective to delegate internally, there are times when a bit of outside help can be exactly what you need. In this article, Tim Ferris sums up one of the great benefits received when outsourcing – more time to work on more valuable tasks. He states, “it is absolutely necessary that you realise that you can always do something more cheaply yourself. This doesn't mean you want to spend your time doing it”.
Identify areas of the business you can outsource to not only save you time, but also add value to your business. Outsourcing certain tasks to specialists means that you’ll be benefiting from their knowledge and experience – this can save you thousands of dollars by avoiding costly mistakes!
Starting and growing a recruitment business can be very complex, but it doesn’t have to be if you get the right people to guide you along your journey. As a Chartered Accountant with two decades of experience, having specialised in providing services to on-hire recruitment businesses since 2008, I am proud that my team and I can leverage off our expertise to add value to businesses, providing an exceptional return on investment.
David Payne is a Chartered Accountant with over 20 years of accounting, payroll and finance experience, including roles as CFO of four companies specialising in the recruitment on-hire and health industries.