4 Things I’ve learnt into a 3-month digital & IT recruitment start up

3 months! Where has that gone! I cannot believe how quick that has flown! It’s been a rewarding, challenging and extremely humbling time. When starting up a new IT recruitment business or any business for that fact; there’s so many internal “what if’s” that you have to battle with. It can be debilitating especially whilst you’re trying to juggle so many new things whilst taking the leap into the unknown.

I’ve been urged to share the things I’ve learnt below; mainly to help others get through this period and keep those of you who are interested, up to date on what’s happening. Rather than just be uber positive I wanted to share my worst times too as I believe that’s what make us stronger and we typically learn more from these than success.

On that note, the 4 things I’ve learnt running a start-up are;

1. Keep it simple

When you begin; you have so many ideas, thoughts, new directions you want to run in. You want to change or (the current buzzword) “disrupt” the industry you work in. Sometimes you can feel like Buridan’s ass. The best thing to do is keep it simple. Have a clear objective, set 2-3 strategies to achieve this and add tasks to the strategies. That way you’ll keep moving forward!

For those that don’t know the story of Buridans Ass – The Donkey/Ass is equally hungry and thirsty and is placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. The Donkey cannot make any rational decision to choose one over the other as it always goes to whichever is closer, therefore it will die of both hunger and thirst.


2. People love to help and work with people

I keep reading that recruitment is going to be disrupted by technology or AI. However even with all these advances, time to hire has increased even with all these new “speedy” ways to recruit! When we meet people, the thing they’re crying out for more than ever is the human element of recruitment. Professional advice, empathy, strategy, tips and integrity.

Just read Felix Feng’s blog – a Developer who show’s why the human element is still so important in recruitment! First tip – “Get through to real people”. Using technology only, his success rate was below 5%!!! Speaking to people increased his success over 4x as much!

We meet as many people as we can! We genuinely help advise people what’s happening the market, who else to speak to and when to go direct to an employer. Majority of the time there’s nothing in it for us but why wouldn’t we help?

Yes, if we help connect someone to their dream job and help a client find a candidate they wouldn’t have found without us we get a %, but in reality, from all the conversation we have every day, week, month, year, this is a very low number. We like to change the standard model and help people regardless.

What’s even more surprising, it’s been massively reciprocal. This one act has actually resulted in our best referrals. I’ve found when you help people, when they’re in their time of need, with no cost, they’ll remember you for a long, long time.


3. Don’t let “what if’s” control you – feel the fear and do it anyway

The best example of this was during my toughest period, the week before Christmas. Not only did I think we were going to have a pretty much 2-week dead period whilst everyone was away, I also caught the nasty sick bugs going around and had a 2 period of 3 hours sleep thanks to my beloved daughter teething whilst I was trying to be at my best for my team. The “what if’s” went into overdrive.

I was lucky that I had great people around me. This, “having the right people around you”, is fundamental and has been one of the keys to our success. The “dead period” resulted in our best figures since starting, the team stepped up; taking on more responsibility to help and the people I’d helped over the years got back in touch and went above and beyond to help again.

The best advice is to feel the fear and do it anyway. Concentrate all your energy on just laying 1 brick at a time. Lay that brick as perfect as you can, then the next and so on. Before you know it, you’ve built a wall and forgot all about the what if’s.


4. You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks

I’m not sure if you’re aware but Digital and IT recruitment isn’t receiving the best plaudits at the moment (very much tongue in cheek.) Being passionate about what you do, where you genuinely help people find dream roles and then seeing your profession being labelled can be difficult to hear. I find myself wanting to reply showing all the benefits, frustrated that “we’re not all like that”, wondering if I’m doing the right thing by ignoring it.

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks” – Winston Churchill
I find pleasure in having Winston Churchill’s quote put by the side of my desk. I have to remind myself we’re always going to have critics no matter what we do. All I can focus on, all I can control is my actions and how I act every day.


So, that’s it, a snap shot of my first 3 months running a business! I originally had 8 points but remembered to kept it simple ???? Again, I want to thank all the people that we’ve met along the way, who have helped us on the journey and been our rock through the more challenging times… here’s to another 3 months.

Love to hear your thoughts or if you need help or if you’re starting up yourself, please get in touch!