When all you read is gloom, turn here for a much different perspective.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Smart Small Businesses Are Hiring

Savvy telecom startup Wind is hiring Canadian talent while its rivals cower.

Telecom service provider Wind Mobile slipped into Canada's wireless scene determined to gain every strategic advantage it could over the country's telecommunications giants.

Last year -- mostly through online social networking sites - Wind spread the word that it was hiring. Within a year, the company had targeted and recruited more than 700 employees.

Many larger firms have been lax in retention programs in the past several years, betting that economic conditions would not result in unwanted employee departures. "We have hired some ninja engineers from the competitors ... I know for a fact that we have got some very sharp talent from the incumbents," said Wind Mobile chief executive officer Ken Campbell. Campbell argues that staffing a brand-new company in a field where top techies and first-rate customer service people are in high demand, becomes a much easier task in a down economy.

Wind offers competitive pay, stimulating work and professional development opportunities. Campbell's firm has a Toronto waterfront headquarters and is the brand name under which Globalive Wireless Management Corp. is now selling its wireless services in Canada.

"The scope and flexibility we give them as a startup is just so much more interesting than what you would get at a larger company. We just have to, because we are small and we have to be agile," says Campbell.

Many times during economic downturns, employees begin feeling stifled, under-compensated and unchallenged. It is precisely then that they become much more open to other offers -- even with a riskier venture.

If large organizations fail to adequately plan for tightening labour markets, they can lose out on employees with the required skills, which dampens their future growth prospects. Those losses are usually a start-ups gain...

Wind human resources vice-president Christina Sanders, who previously worked at Magna International Inc. and Virgin Mobile Canada, said Wind's employees come from "all sectors and hail from all parts of the world." What they have in common, she said, is "the right attitude, flexibility, entrepreneurship and passion," Ms. Sanders said. "For people who are in telecom, this is a very exciting time."

You may remember last March that we said that successful entrepreneurs know that strong firms retool their businesses during lulls in business cycles and that many well known firms were born during recessionary times. Most serially successful entrepreneurs use these lulls as opportunities to borrow, invest, and grow their business model. They know that when markets return, their businesses will be the ones much better equipped to take advantage of the return to strong demand.

Some say that small businesses are not presently hiring. But Wind Telecom -- and many other small start-up firms operating in stealth mode right now -- know better.

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