Going it alone – start-up tips for aspiring recruitment entrepreneurs

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Jack Parkinson, executive chairman of HR GO plc, uses his vast experience in the recruitment industry to offer his top 20 tips to anyone dreaming of a start-up.


  1. Look for a niche area. Recruitment is a competitive industry and you don’t want to enter a field with many rivals.
  2. Focus on high value clients.
  3. Don’t water down margins – in other words don’t buy work with silly prices for no good reason. Go the extra mile for clients, be proud of what you do and remember the expression – “The worker is worthy of his or her hire”.
  4. Choose your team well and invest time and money in the right people. Train them well. Share the benefits with them if they perform well. (They could be JV partners).
  5. Enterprise is exciting – but not always easy. If you are prepared to overcome the challenges, you will be rewarded with good financial returns, the satisfaction of a job well done – and happy clients and applicants.
  6. Create a financial plan. Sound numbers are the key to business success. But build in contingencies for when times are not as healthy as you hoped.
  7. Expect the unexpected.
  8. Don’t ignore the benefits of good marketing and PR. If you can’t afford, do it yourself.
  9. Develop your brand and differentiate it from the rest. Specialisation is important.
  10. Consider partnering with an experienced organisation that will provide the back office support and experience you may lack in the early days. A Joint Venture with HR GO plc might be a useful route to consider.
  11. Don’t go up blind alleys – focus on what you do best.
  12. Maintain financial control. Negotiate personally with your clients to establish good and long-lasting relationships. Do business with people you like and who like you.
  13. Build an online presence. You need a professional website and regular social media activity and interaction.
  14. Use friends to help you. They have contacts you can use to widen you client base.
  15. Network. Be the face of your business. Speak at every opportunity to promote your business.
  16. Be clear why you want to set up a business and if you are, why you want to grow. Bigger isn’t necessarily better – or more profitable.
  17. You have the chance to learn something new every day. Be open to new information and prepared to act on it.
  18. Be compliant from Day One.
  19. Read what other entrepreneurs have to say:
    - Robert Townsend, author of ‘Up the Organisation:’ “If you’re not in business for fun or profit, what the hell are you doing here?”
    - Jon Dweck, founder and managing director of Pod Talent, writes:  “Make sure you know your values: ask yourself what are you prepared to do to succeed and where do you draw the line. Then stick to your principles. Be totally honest with yourself about what you are good at and what you are rubbish at.”
  20. Starting a recruitment business without any financial resources is risky and difficult. Decide how best to fund your new business. Don’t over-stretch yourself. Funding can come from the following sources: Personal (this demonstrates commitment), Friends and Family, Crowd Funding, Loans, Incubator and Accelerator Schemes, Invoice Factoring, Bank Loans (unlikely without a proven track record or assets), External Early Stage Investment, Franchising, Joint Venture with HR GO. See more information below. 

Franchising – pros and cons

 This might be a tempting route to go down if you don't want to be going it alone.


  • Avoids trial and error
  • Lower risk – franchise businesses are more likely to succeed than going it alone
  • Training and support provided
  • Access to the latest technology
  • Part of a bigger brand
  • Access to shared experience and know how


  • Forced to follow an established system – less discretion for individual ideas and decisions
  • Fees due to franchisor at start and ongoing can be very expensive.
  • Brand can be affected by outside influences

And finally…

Why not consider a joint venture with HR GO? 

We have established more than 50 JVs over the past 40 years. They are a tried and tested method of helping our JV partners to make their own decisions, improve the business, and enjoy bigger returns.

My team and I would be delighted to tell you more about a recruitment JV with HR GO.

If you are interested in being part of the remarkable HR GO story, please ring me on 01233 722 400 or find more details here.

I wish you all the best of luck in wherever your next business adventure takes you.


Jack P

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