“Realistically, is it possible to run a recruitment business from a bedroom?”
Launching a startup won’t always require a lot of resources. However, it frequently means making do with what’s available and learning to cope without some of life’s luxuries. In this second part of our startup guide, we look at some bare-bones scenarios, plus tips for starting a recruitment enterprise on a shoestring budget.
Business Tip: Avoid False Economies
A successful entrepreneur knows how to make sacrifices to meet their objectives. If that means choosing to run a recruitment business from a bedroom, then that is an entirely possible option.
But you have to be aware of false economies, too. These are choices which allow you to save money today, but which end up costing much more in the long-term.
In this section of the guide, we will look at true savings and false economies, and what to be aware of when running a business from your own home.
build your office
Put down the trowel, we won’t need any bricks or mortar for this step – literally or figuratively. You can easily run a functional recruiting firm without an office: from your kitchen table or bedroom desk if you have no other option. In the current climate, many industry veterans are finding themselves in exactly that same situation anyway. And we’re all doing just fine… right? Here’s what you need:
• A quiet place to work
You won’t leave a strong first impression if your clients can hear your television / tumble-dryer / screaming children in the background.
• A laptop
No-one has a big enough brain to recall all their candidates’ and clients’ qualifications and contact details from memory. A little IT support is a must. Get organised, and keep a record of any big ticket items you need to buy. They will all qualify as business expenses.
• a recruitment software system
Related to the above, a recruiting software system takes care of a lot of the administrative legwork of running a business. eBoss is helping startups with special rates: the first 14 days free, and then 20% off the first six months.
• a webcam or mobile phone
If you are cutting face-to-face meetings out of your daily routine, then be prepared for many more virtual meetings. In this situation, a laptop or desk-mounted webcam is better than using your phone. It’s less awkward, and you keep your hands free for taking notes and searching the database.
Honestly: in 2021, that is all you need. Everything else is a luxury.
Getting ‘IT’ right: an applicant tracking system and beyond
Next is recruitment software. If you are keeping a running total of your monthly costs, you may be tempted to try and manage without recruitment software. Let’s skip to the end of that discussion: you can’t.
Working in this industry for nearly two decades, we have seen too many otherwise-viable companies vanish overnight because they chose to make savings in the wrong place.
Remember this important rule: you are not trying to reduce all your outgoing costs. You are trying to reduce the costs which do not offer you a return. One pound spent on recruiting software saves you ten, twenty times that in admin costs and payroll. On the other hand, the more that you invest in technology early doors, the sooner you will hit profitability and growth.
Let’s take a run down the checklist of your essentials:
Your recruitment software is no longer a simple database of available candidates. In fact, it hasn’t been that for almost two decades. Today’s recruitment software is a sophisticated assistant for every step towards a placement. It is another member of your team – and one that is a specialist in any given task. It does all this while also remaining significantly cheaper than hiring new staff.
The question to ask when building a virtual office is: which investments made today will provide savings down the line?
The applicant tracking system keeps you ahead of your candidates’ progress. Do they need chasing on a form submission? Do they need to be prepped for interview, or congratulated on a successful new job? Your recruitment ATS is your secret weapon in becoming the star recruiter you have set out to be.
It’s a safe bet to say that very few people get excited over databasing. But you would be wrong to skip over this step when there are big cost savings to be made with the right choice. Cloud storage gives you true flexibility to access your data and work anywhere. If you’re implementing agile or flexi working arrangements, it’s a must. And there are hidden costs to business that you might only encounter later. Do you have all your data protection and GDPR obligations in order? A good service provider solves all your costly privacy duties for you.
Lastly, you need to think long-term. Can you spend a penny to make a pound? Like many ambitious startups, you may choose to sign up to Jobfeed early on. This feature costs less than a monthly train ticket and has helped many startups to land their first clients.
Recruiters who invest in advanced features are using the same automations and AI assistants as top firms. This is an enormous competitive advantage. Many small firms choose to make the investment in Jobfeed early on, to secure significant volumes of new clients who are now repeat customers. The feature costs less than you would have paid in rail fare or petrol money to get to work in years gone by. Yet, the benefits have been seen to kickstart the sales of many small businesses.
Running a recruitment business from a bedroom – should I try?
• #WFH Recruitment: the case Against:
In this industry, the candidate experience is a big part of the job. A good candidate experience grows your brand organically. A bad one will make every placement an uphill battle.
If you do choose the office-less approach, think: how will this affect my candidate experience? Your points of contact are naturally limited to the virtual world. This is perhaps fine for young candidates of the ‘digital native’ generations. But how will this be perceived by mature professionals, who tend to do things face-to-face, and close a deal with a handshake? A virtual office imposes significant limitations on how you attract candidates, too. Without a literal shop front, you are lacking your primary point of contact with new candidates. We will consider all of these pitfalls in a future section looking at attracting candidates.
Another factor is privacy – both for you, and your candidates. When you register your company, or e-commerce website, you must provide a registration address. Remember that you cannot use a PO Box as your registered business address. It means that you will need to provide your domestic address for business purposes, which may not always suit everyone.
Similarly, can you offer candidates and clients a safe and secure environment? Are you sharing your living space with other working-from-home friends or family members? How will you manage business calls in a shared, noisy or potentially insecure environment? If you cannot provide a sufficient level of privacy for your clients, then your home office may not be fit for purpose.
• #WFH Recruitment: the case For:
Despite these problems, there are numerous positives to be said about working from home. These are both logistical as well as financial.
You gain a wealth of flexibility when you work from home. You cut out all of the cost and time wastage of the daily commute, and you are free to develop your own, efficient workflows. See our guide to working shorter days by dividing tasks into modular chunks of just a few hours.
With an organised mindset, you can fit work duties in between other commitments when you have the time. In a changing cultural landscape, this agile technique is a valuable skill to acquire early on in your professional life. It may also become a necessity when dealing with disruptions.