Growth is vital for every recruitment business. It creates a positive environment and generates new opportunities. Both of which build momentum and fuel more growth.

When Jeff Bezos was asked during his first meeting with Washington Post writers how he’d define success at the Post, he replied “Growth”.

The strategies pursued for the Washington Post’s revival under Jeff Bezos are applicable to any sector: invest in staff and technology, understand that customers will not pay more for less and focus on building the business in a digitally focused era.

Your business growth can be quick or more even-paced. However, without growth your market position will be weakened. Businesses that aren’t growing fall behind competitors and run the risk of losing top employees who feel their careers are stagnating.

When Harvard Business Review (HBR) analysed Apple’s growth strategy, they uncovered six core themes: new process, new experiences, new features, new customers, new offerings and new models.

HBR determined the ‘easiest goal’ to achieve was by maintaining relevance with your core market with new features or experiences.

HBR also highlighted a number of businesses invested 10%–20% of their ‘innovation budget’ to new customer strategies, applying a fail-fast, test-the-waters approach to either gain traction quickly or exit.

We’ve translated HBRs analysis of Apple’s growth into three recruitment specific growth segments.

Using ‘new people’, ‘new process’ and ‘new business’ as the foundation for recruitment business growth, we’ve listed 51 questions to answer honestly and accurately.

Defining how you plan to grow needs to be intentional – not driven by luck. The answers you give will help identify your next set of growth opportunities.

New people

  • Are there new markets we could capture if we developed new skills?
  • If so, what skills would we need and how could we build them?
  • How do we encourage our employees to identify new business opportunities?
  • Do we have enough employees who can identify and capture growth opportunities?
  • How has our staff headcount grown in the last 12 months?
  • Are our resources aligned with opportunities?
  • Is our employee churn rate too high?
  • How much time do our team spend on generating revenue?

New process (split into internal and supplier)


  • What are our top admin challenges?
  • How effective is our advertising – what’s the ROI?
  • What channels are our deals coming from?
  • How effective is our upsell process? (contract length, margin, salary)
  • How evenly spread is our deal source – is there an imbalance / opportunity to generate more leads?
  • Do we have a defined process to get testimonials / referrals?
  • Do our KPIs help us make data-driven decisions?


  • How much advice and support do we receive from our suppliers?
  • How much profit is released from invoices into our business?
  • Does debt concentration impact our drawdown?
  • Are our debtor days increasing or decreasing quarter on quarter?
  • How flexible is our funding facility?
  • What fees and charges are we incurring?
  • What reports are we using to measure growth? Are they useful for decision making?

New business (split into effectiveness, penetration and expansion)


  • Has our NFI grown per head?
  • What’s our deal conversion rate?
  • How many new businesses have we won in the last quarter?
  • Who are our most profitable customers?
  • Why do we lose business?
  • Where can we sell to existing customers?
  • How many sectors are we recruiting in?
  • How often do we conduct a SWOT analysis to assess our position in the market?
  • Is our average margin healthy? (has this increased / decreased when compared to the previous year?)
  • How has the selling process changed for our sales teams and channels? Have we modified our sales strategy to keep up?
  • How diversified is our business? – what’s our contract to perm split? Has this changed in the last 12 months and what is the impact on revenue?
  • Has our contract placements increased or decreased?
  • What’s our average pay rate and charge rate?
  • What’s our average contract placement length?
  • What’s our average perm fee?
  • How many permanent placements do we make per month?
  • What percentage of placements in the last 12 months are new customers?
  • How much revenue comes from new customers versus existing customers?
  • Can our company grow faster selling to current customers or new ones?


  • What’s our account penetration % (how many clients)?
  • How balanced is our client base?
  • How effective are our partnerships?


  • Should we be offering more, or less, choice in our service portfolio?
  • What potential sales partnerships and industry alliances should we be planning?
  • Which new customers should we target and what should we sell them?
  • Should we seek growth by expanding into new countries?
  • Should we seek growth by expanding into new sectors?
  • Are there new markets we could capture if we developed new skills?
  • If so, what skills would we need and how could we build them?