Well, ZOMG. I’ve been running my own business for 18 months!
I’ve now been working for myself for 18 months and what an awesome time I have had. There have been more ‘highs’ than ‘lows’ and I certainly relish the freedom (and challenges) that it gives me!
So, let’s talk a bit about the boring stuff before moving onto the enjoyable things I have been doing.
End of year accounting sucks. You have to give your accountant all of your bills (mine are good by the way – www.rickardkeen.co.uk). They then crunch some numbers like wizards and send you your final year accounts. When you receive these they also send you a lovely invoice and in due course, you get a letter from HMRC telling you to pay a handsome sum of money. Horrible as it is, by having a tax bill to pay it means that your company is generating revenue, so I suppose I shouldn’t really be complaining!
Ok, the boring stuff is done, let’s talk about what has been AWESOME:
I started a MeetUp group last year, and things have literally flown from there. I now run 6 MeetUp groups alongside the Italian and they are so amazing:
From an initial start of meeting in a pub – where people had a good chat about development – we now have meetup events where people from within each group give presentations on diverse topics ranging from Arduino coding to Scrum / Agile and Front End Development, to the rest of the group; presenting in English to help them to improve their English presentational skills in front of a sympathetic audience of their peers.
As a result of this work I was invited as 1 of only 4 group organizers to www.ndclondon.com in December and spent 3 days meeting developers in the community zone at an ACTUAL DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE (yes it really is that big; recruiters simply do not get invited to these sort of things). I also subsequently went to Oslo to their www.ndc-oslo.com event.
— Adam Bolton (@Adam__Bolton) June 30, 2014
What have I learned?
I really appreciate that 99% of recruiters don’t have these sorts of opportunities, and make sure that when I am there I don’t take the usual recruiter stance of ‘Hi, have a business card’. Rather I have come to understand that if a developer trusts you as a recruiter (which is very rare!) then they’ll soon let you know when they are hiring or looking for a new role themselves. Most of my clients and candidates now come from the groups either directly or indirectly which is great – warm leads FTW!
I also went to Prime Conf (www.primeconf.com) which was the 1st of its kind and brilliant fun. I’m 100% certain that had I not started up on my own business, there is no chance that my old manager would have allowed this sort of freedom, looking at things in a black & white ‘will it make you money’ way – the old phone call recruiter is dead and buried. People buy from people.
What else has changed?
I no longer work from home! I managed to secure a great little office (which fits 2 desks and a Husky fridge with a Tassimo machine on top!) close to my home, so I can walk there in 10 mins. It’s amazing how much more productive you can be in recruitment when you have a whiteboard to work from! It’s nice to have a dedicated working space; even if it is an extra expense.
I’ve also been giving out presentations to the developers whereby I talk about the differences between finding a tech job here in the UK compared to their home markets – there are many ways that our employment market for developers is different; CV design and content differ massively. On top of this, there are a couple of potential group meetups that I will be attending in Poland and Italy to talk about moving to the UK. It’s great to branch out, but also I am keen to get the ABrecruit name out there so that people know to come to me if they are relocating to the UK, and with the amount of talent coming here to the tech hub of Europe it’s great to have a revenue stream coming from the events.
Not only have I made some great connections in the tech world, but I’ve also made a few friends along the way – 2 days ago I competed in a half marathon for charity with Mattia who attends my Italian group (and I also helped him to find a job too!). Technically all we did was to turn up to the event at about the same time as he beat me by over 30 mins in the race itself.
Every one of my groups has a native who helps me and I couldn’t do the job without them (big shouts out to Lorenzo, Rodrigo, Magdalena, Brendon, Julien, and Alain!), as they help with translations and are really good at engaging the groups. I also couldn’t do half as many meetups without the help of Sebastian at Telerik who kindly let us use their office as a space for events.
We’re branching out from just keeping each group separate; this summer we are shortly to announce the final plans for the inaugural ‘IDinLondon Quiz night’ where nations will battle it out to be the winner complete with trophy and bragging rights, and there is an ‘IDinLondon 5’s’ football tournament being discussed in Winter 2014 / Spring 2015. I really want to create a community around the development and show that not all recruiters can be tarred with the same brush.
On that note, there are 2 people that I really want to thank for their frank honesty over the last 18 months – back when I worked at my previous company we were told ‘never speak to other recruiters, they’ll steal your jobs’. What a load of rubbish! Thayer Prime and Barry Cranford, both of these people are running groups (and conferences, see Prime Conf above!) in order to try and fix the industry, which includes a draft ‘Recruiter code of ethics’ that we are working on – if you need a quality recruiter that doesn’t do .Net (because obviously, you’d call me then, right?) then get in touch with either of them.
Not everything has been plain sailing, however. I’ve had my share of knock-backs, offer rejects, people dropping out in rebate. I even hired someone to work with me as the workload swelled, but that didn’t work out as the person was junior and needed a lot more guidance than I was able to offer; we parted company on good terms and I wish him the best for his future career.
I get a lot of calls and emails from people who have read these blogs, and I hope that they have inspired the people to go out on their own. It’s a great experience to be your own boss!
Until next time….!
Also by Adam: How Much Does a ‘No-Recruiters’ Policy Cost You?