QUESTION: Mike, I have heard you speak a lot about a business that runs without you. How is that even possible with owning a recruiting firm? I am the biggest biller as the owner. What are some of the steps I can take to make this happen? – Karina 

ANSWER: It is a great question. It is actually what kept me on my desk for much longer than I needed to be because I was the biggest biller. At my peak, I was billing $2,100,000 on my desk, with an average fee of $22,500 and leveraging people to recruit for me on my openings. When you do the math, it is about 100 placements, with two per week that were happening on my desk. Because I was getting so much business and most of that, 97% of that was with money upfront. I had a team of about six recruiters to do the fulfillment.  

I do not know what your billings are, Karina, but if you are around $20,000 a month, you can start to invest in the first position, what I call a recruiting coordinator, or search associate. We cover all of the details, more than I can in a blog post, of how to hire and train someone in this position at our virtual and live the events. Basically, you would teach them how to recruit on your openings.  

Let us say you are billing $250,000 a year now. If I am going to hire a search associate, in year one, I want to be able to increase my billings to the $400,000. Once the search associate is working on my desk for six or more months, I now have a business that runs without me. If I go away for a week, I can have that search associate manage the candidate aspect, meaning the prep, debrief, and closing, on any deals that I was personally working on. 

From there, I would add a marketing coordinator so while I was gone, people were getting me leads. The marketing coordinator would be doing business development. If they found an opening that I would work, I could then turn it over to the search associate.  

When you add resources to your recruiting practice in this way, it has actually a multiplier effect. It is not this slow incremental painful thing. I have taken a solo operator who was a billing manager but had an aspiration to grow her firm to four or five people inside of a year and getting themselves off a desk in less than two. Their role then becomes training, development, accountability with their team.   

This is a 30,000-foot blueprint starting with leveraging yourself as the biggest biller.  To start, I would probably hire two people because one of them might not make it, and if they both make it, what a blessing because if you have two people make it and they stick, you can take that to $500,000 or $600,000 in year one and $750,000 in year two when you do it the right way. Then, after that, you can bring on a marketing coordinator. As the the marketing coordinator develops in the business, you can give them more and more of the search.  

One of the reasons people have always told me that they hold off or do not want to do this is nobody recruits better than me. That is true in the moment and I used to feel the same way until I hired people that actually recruited better than me. Done right, you can develop others in your using the search associate and marketing coordinator functions into “mini-me’s”.  

The first assignment I gave them was not one of my retained searches. I would give them what I term a “scratch and dent” search with a client whose hands were tied on fee or terms that I could not agree with, but is a great client for work with. My value proposition to the client is that I will give you retained level service at contingency terms. In full transparency, I share that the recruiter assigned to the search is brand new. However, they will go through the entire process of identifying and following up with great talent. The only guarantee I make is that we will present quality candidates, but I make no guarantee on quantity. The reason I can guarantee you quality is that I personally assessed the individuals prior to submission to the client. From there I review the terms and set exchange commitments with the client on 24-hour turnaround time on feedback.  

This is a great way to train somebody because it is a real opportunity. If these training openings are filled, and they finance your onboarding program. If I stayed as the only recruiter in my firm, I probably would have maxed out, working 80 hours a week, at $750,000 in billings. While I was growing the business and the year, I billed over $2 million and I was leaving the office between 4:30 and 5:00 every afternoon. That is how you build a business that runs without you.  

You create leveraged structures. You put systems in place. The system that you follow runs the business. You lead the systems. If you are interested in that, reach out to our team at and just say you want to see if we can help you build a business that runs without you. It requires you to let go of the mentality of if it is to be, it is up to me all the time, and it requires you to invest in your business. You are going to have to hire some people, and a lot of people are very, very afraid of that. 

P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you grow your recruitment business:

1. Grab a free copy of my Retainer Blueprint

It’s the exact, step-by-step process of getting clients to give you money upfront. Click Here.

2. Join the Recruiter Think Tank and connect with firm owners who are scaling too

It’s our Facebook community where smart recruiters learn to make more money and get more freedom.

3. Join me at our next event

3x a year, I run a 3-day virtual intensive, sharing the 9 key areas that drive a 7-figure search firm. Click here to check out the dates of our upcoming event:

4. Work with me and my team privately

And if you ever want to get some 1:1 help, we can jump on the phone for a quick call, and brainstorm how to get you more leads, more placements, and more time.


Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash