Pia Kantola enjoys her job as the CEO of a growing company. She encourages entrepreneurs to have the courage to take steps towards growth.
Four years ago, Pia Kantola was particularly excited to meet two of her former colleagues. Having built careers in the recruitment industry, the friends had often thrown around ideas about a joint venture, but now Kantola wanted to move from words to deeds.
“I showed them a concept, prices, the whole package.”
The meeting gave rise to a modern headhunting company, Taito Research. When the fourth founding partner joined, they had a professional team that wanted to challenge the traditional ways of the headhunting industry and reduce the mystique surrounding it.
“I had always wondered why headhunting took so long. We identified the need for a shorter and more condensed headhunting process, the most important part of which is high-quality candidate mapping,” says CEO Kantola.
“Everything extra has been eliminated from our process. We focus on what adds the most value for the customer and the applicant. We act transparently and make all data available to the customer. It is important that the customer knows what they are paying for.”
Balancing and controlled risk-taking
Customers have welcomed agile headhunting. Taito Research will reach a turnover of EUR 1 million in its third full financial year.
“For all of us founders, it was obvious from the very beginning that we were seeking growth. We want to be the market leader in six years’ time,” says Kantola.
To enable growth, Taito Research has boldly recruited new employees. The company currently employs 14 people. There is also another reason for the recruitment: the desire to employ people and develop experts in the field of headhunting.
According to Pia Kantola, growth always requires some kind of risk-taking, and managing a growth company is a constant balancing act. The company strategy cannot be set in stone.
“In terms of risks, we have been quite careful and ensured that there is a buffer. Sometimes I wonder if our own recruitment pace is too fast, and the next day I feel that we do not have enough employees. You have to learn to balance it.”
“A company in its growth phase cannot have a fully fixed strategy. You have to adjust plans according to the situation and be able to make quick decisions. This is one of our strengths,” says Kantola.
Taito Research aims to prevent staff growing pains by promoting calmer everyday life and acting transparently: objectives are constantly opened up. Kantola wants everyone in the company to be able to develop at their own pace and work in peace. Enabling this is one of the most important tasks of the CEO.
Select partners with care
Pia Kantola knew from a young age that she wanted to be an entrepreneur. Before founding Taito Research, she first gained experience on other companies’ payrolls and then mastered the various aspects of entrepreneurship while working as a sole trader.
“I really like the control of larger entities and the opportunity to fulfil myself. Not having to do something stupid just because someone says so is another upside of entrepreneurship.”
Kantola encourages new entrepreneurs to be bold. Afterwards, you might regret taking too long to consider something.
“Don’t take forever to consider taking the next step, such as hiring an employee, acquiring office space or even a new tool. It retards growth. At first, the costs may seem staggering, but you get over that as the turnover grows.”
In Kantola’s opinion, partners should be chosen as carefully as the employees. Chemistry and good cooperation, even in bad times, are critical. It is worth taking a moment to think about the roles of the founders. At Taito Research, the roles of the founders were defined based on their respective strengths. The roles have been adjusted on the basis of new expertise joining the company.
“Don’t be shy to ask a potential partner for references, and make a comprehensive survey if you are going to collaborate with a stranger. It’s worth investing in shareholder agreements and contracts in general. Speak openly about everything and also make a realistic plan in case the company doesn’t take off.”
“Entrepreneurship isn’t rocket science. It’s just really hard work. Anyone can become an entrepreneur and succeed, but it takes strong belief in your thing,” says Pia Kantola.
Pia Kantola’s three tips for recruiting your first employee:
- First, define what kind of expertise you need and stick to it. When recruiting for your company, you can become blinded and see potential in everyone.
- Have several discussions with the candidates. If you have partners, involve them in the discussions.
- Explain the company’s situation to the candidates transparently to give them the most accurate picture of the employer and the work community from the start.
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