Talent Acquisition

Recruiters: Setting Up on Your Own, Can You Do Better?

I get asked a lot about what made me set up on my own – a number of different factors led me to this decision back in 2005 which I will come on to in a moment.

But I often wonder, would I encourage recruiters to do the same now, knowing what I know? Let’s take a look:

What do you need to set up on your own?

So, you want to start your own recruitment business? What do you need? Here’s my list of essentials:

  • A market – If you don’t have contacts, connections or a network, I would not recommend setting up a desk on your own from scratch. You have no testimonial, reputation or leverage and trust me, when it is just you on your own, it can feel very lonely if you have no one to bounce off! Think who would recruit through me guaranteed. Where would I go to for my candidates without having to spend on adverts initially?
  • Some capital – Dependent upon your market requirements (obviously a perm desk takes less investment than someone who is taking on a temp/contract approach, which will obviously then require partnerships initially with factoring companies), is it worth establishing an NED in your business, or have you a trusted confidante who could act as an angel investor? How much can you afford to live on before you invoice? Be under-enthusiastic with your budget to allow for rebates/credits which could happen!
  • Space – Are you going to work from home initially? Is it feasible- if you are going to be out regionally to meet clients and candidates or you don’t meet them at all (tut tut!) then why spend money initially on office space if you don’t need to? If you must, for example if you need to test for say IT, admin, creative roles, then there are plenty of deals out there, esp those which lease/rent by the month. Pay per desk not by square footage!
  • Advertising – You need a brand, you need to be able to market it, you need a USP (or more than one is always good!) and you need a good website. So who is going to do all that for you at a reasonable cost? Are their favours you can call in with friends who are designers?
  • Passion, belief, tenacity and desire – If you don’t have this in bucket loads, no matter how good all of the above is, you will be destined to fail. There will be trials and tribulations along the way that will question your loyalty to yourself and your self belief and resilience has to be the underlying factor in whether you succeed or not. Trust me on this point. You need to be a bit of a maverick, entrepreneur and yet rigidly organised all at the same time.
  • Partner with the right people – You need a damned good accountant, a really reliable IT person, a cost effective legal advisor and if you have a mentor, even a soundboard from outside recruitment, ask them to assist you too!!

How many hats can you wear at once? You still need to bill too, so this takes a great amount of time management and prioritisation.

What sort of person should consider setting up on their own?

I was an experienced recruiter with 7 years in 3 markets back in 2005 (believe it or not!), absolutely business development focused and always challenged the norm. I was officially difficult to manage as I won’t accept compliance for the sake of it, nor do I believe one size fits all. And so it was inevitable that I chose my maternity leave to explore setting up on my own.

Looking back, it all seems so easy when I set Qui Recruitment up. The R2R market wasn’t yet saturated (as it absolutely is now, with some so-called competitors not doing our whole sector any favours by continually pulling fast ones on clients and candidates alike, shame on them – it remains my firm job as well as everything else, to educate recruiters on how to behave…sorry, rant over!); the market was very candidate driven yet recruiters weren’t so nervous about moving. Oh and that thing, you know, what’s it called, oh yes – LinkedIn and social media had not yet descended upon us properly to create this adverse effect on actually consulting people on their careers and hiring decisions, effectively making it a glorified job board. Oh, those were the days!

But you know, I wanted to set up mainly because I saw a gap in my market which was to offer reverse search to candidates, as oppose to job filling as well as adversely remaining my chosen clients’ ambassador on their behalf. Plus as a new mum at the time in 2005, I needed flexible hours but little did I know about the 7am and 9pm calls I would need to regularly make!

Would I do it all again now, knowing what I know now?



I am in charge of my own destiny. I am accountable and responsible for my own earnings and also for the people who choose me to partner them, whether that’s clients and candidates. I offer a great example to my own children who see how much pleasure I get from doing my job properly and about how much I care for my other “baby”, Qui Recruitment. And I have 2 very good prodigies waiting to take over in about 10 years – try negotiating with my 6 year old, I dare you!

Would I advise YOU to set up if you are where I was at back in 2005?

If you have the guts, the stamina, the market and the plan, then talk to me. I am happy to impart my advice to you, with pleasure.

But please don’t do it on a whim. Don’t think, if they can do it, I can as I promise you, it takes nerves of steel! Remember, I am Wonder Woman….

By Lysha Holmes

Lysha Holmes is founding director of Qui Recruitment established in 2005 to completely challenge the traditionally poorly perceived service offered by other Rec 2 Rec providers. Lysha as Qui Recruitment is dedicated to representing the best talent to the best suited roles, focussing on placing recruiters of all levels in a candidate led service across the NW.