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Making the jump from employee to business owner is a life goal of many ambitious recruiters – leaving behind the familiarity of agency life to start the adventure of building their own companies, and reaping the rewards along the way.

But if you’re a high-performing agency recruiter with ambitions of entrepreneurship, how do you know when it’s time to start taking your daydreams seriously?

Here are a few key signs you might be ready to launch on your own.

#1 – You’ve started calculating margins

Of all the factors that might prompt you to venture out on your own, personal earnings is likely to be the one that gets you thinking about it first.

Between salary and commissions, agency recruiters typically earn an average somewhere around 20 – 40% of the total net fee income they generate in personal sales.

While this can go up or down depending on the structure of a particular employer, even the most generous compensation plan is generally a fraction of the potential take-home pay that independent agency owners can achieve.

If you’re a recruiter consistently generating £250,000+ in annual sales, it won’t take long before the calculator comes out to see exactly what your personal pay could look like if you achieved similar figures under your own entity.

#2 – You don’t need to manually operate every aspect of your company

Recruitment is an exceptional sector in which to start a career. 

It’s fast-paced, develops a range of abilities in key disciplines, and – critically – puts earning ability in your hands.

You truly get out what you put in, and the harder you work the more you earn in return.

There comes a moment, however, when as an ambitious recruiter you switch mindset from short-term commission cycles and start thinking about the long term.

  • Will this job set me up for retirement?
  • Can I achieve my life goals if I remain an employee?
  • Do I own my schedule, can I balance work and family life how I want?
  • Can I earn enough not just to live my dreams, but to help my family live theirs?
  • Am I working hard to build something for myself, or for someone else?

Business owners invest their time, effort and energy in their own financial futures.

When they get up early each morning or work late into the evening, it’s a continual investment towards a cash-generating asset with long-term equity value.

If you’re driven to create something bigger than a monthly pay cheque – it’s sign number two that launching your own venture could be more than a pipe dream.

#3 – You’ve built the skill set

Life in a recruitment agency builds a great foundation of skills for entrepreneurship – sales, marketing, negotiating, people management and more.

It goes without saying that owning and managing a business is a big step up in complexity from running a recruitment desk (or team), but the core engine of any recruitment startup remains the same – win clients, pick up job orders, find and place candidates.

If you’re a recruiter with multiple years of full-cycle experience, you’ve got the basic competencies to build an income stream for yourself and lay the foundations for growing a business.

You might well lack the knowledge in areas like finance, strategy or technology – but most first-time business owners do.

As long as you engage the right support team of people who do have expertise in those vital areas, you provide the know-how to drive the business forward by winning customers and generating revenue.

#4 – You’re daydreaming about your brand

It’s rare to come across a budding entrepreneur who hasn’t given any thought to what their creation might be called…

Branding in recruitment is a mixture of creativity and strategy – the opportunity to construct an image for your business that encapsulates the focus, personality and values that define it.

It runs through every fibre of your company, from the logo on your letterhead to the building blocks of your marketing tactics, and it’s often one of the first areas future business owners start exploring.

Whether it’s toying with online logo creators or browsing the Companies House name availability checker , if you’ve caught yourself sketching out a brand identity then it could by time to start adding detail to other areas of your business planning.

#5 – You’re building your entrepreneur network

Though it’s an initial step away from the social whirlwind of employee life, business ownership shouldn’t be a lonely ride.

One of the first things many ambitious founders do is start to connect with other like-minded individuals, developing a network of people involved in business ownership and growth.

The vast majority of the issues first-time entrepreneurs encounter have been faced (and often solved) hundreds of times before, and it’s essential that any new founder avoid heading out alone to re-invent the wheel.

Whether it’s advice on financial management, tax, processes or business development, connections to people who have been there and done it provide an invaluable injection of expertise in the early days of building a business.

If you’re already scouting your own social networks to see who you know that might be able to give you some pointer on getting started in business ownership, you’re already moving in the right direction.

How does it work?