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Daunting and Daring - the challenges of going solo

"You have to be prepared to put everything in"...

Daunting and Daring - the challenges of going solo

Kathryn Riley, Managing Director of Douglas Scott Legal Recruitment, explains how starting up her own venture requires that you wear all the hats...

What motivated you to start-up on your own?

Douglas Scott was born out of a desire to do things differently and a passion for delivering a high-quality service.

While I took great pride in my work before setting up Douglas Scott, I was fast becoming disenchanted and, as I climbed the ladder, frustration started to creep in as I became more aware of a reluctance to invest in delivering high quality work.

I knew I was great at my job and, as a gained a more comprehensive understanding of business, it became clear to me that recruitment could work in a way much more closely aligned with my values. Quality remains our core focus at Douglas Scott and, while all our staff live by the same ethos as me, I never want them to feel that they are investing more than the business itself.

What are the challenges with launching your own business, especially in recruitment? Do you think the market is saturated?

It is a saturated market and only the best firms will thrive. Operating within a niche market brings both opportunities and challenges. When launching, convincing people to work both with you, and for you, is incredibly tough. You are asking people to buy into your personal track record rather than that of an established business which takes a huge amount of faith from existing contacts and even more from new clients. Our specialism also meant we were fishing from an even smaller pool of potential clients.

Launching a new business will mean wearing many hats - and wearing them all well! One minute you’re the finance director, the next operations, then HR; it’s easy to get distracted by management issues but clients and new business has to be the focus. This is particularly important in the recruitment industry. Fee is driven from building strong relationships with clients and there are no shortcuts. It’s time consuming and requires a lot of energy.

You have to be prepared to put in everything in order to compete successfully with your better-resourced competitors.

Which sectors are you recruiting for - and how have they changed since you started out?

We are specialists in the legal sector. While a traditional profession, the market is increasingly becoming fragmented as changing legislation carves new sub-sections of the industry. The increasing complexity of the sector means there are no quick wins with regards to scalability, but means that we are always on our toes.

How is the industry changing?

Demands from both the candidate and the client are constantly in a state of flux. The increasing changes and uncertainty around the economy and legislation means the landscape we are recruiting against is never stagnant. Complex external forces push and pull candidate expectations while the same forces are creating gaps and new areas of specialisms that businesses need to fill.

What are your plans going forward?

Looking ahead there are many exciting plans in the pipeline – we have an incredibly talented, hard-working team and ambitious growth targets in place. Our three-year-vision is to secure 10 per cent of UK market share while establishing strategic bases in all major international territories.

While we will grow further in size and reach, it will be at a pace that allows us to retain what makes Douglas Scott, Douglas Scott – and, most importantly, keep high quality work at the heart of the business.