Recessions stink when it comes to starting a new business. Customers don't come easily. Investors get reluctant. Your 401k is in the pits. Spouses worry about their own jobs. Cyclical industries like staffing get a double-drubbing. So why on earth would someone start a staffing company in a serious recession?

It's an interesting question but oddly one whose answer is pretty boring. It's the same answer, in fact, for the exact opposite question: why start a staffing company in a boom time? That answer is that the state of the economy has almost no consequence. What matters is if you have the chops - the compelling desire to do it, the irrational exuberance to make it work.

My dad had that irrational exuberance. He started his staffing business in 1974 during the worst post-depression recession, but he was incorrigibly depressed as a Manpower exec and was bursting with creative energy. Recession be damned, he was going to make it work.

When you read those headlines on Yahoo - "Worst Job Loss in 34 Years" - and do the math, that takes you back to 1974.  My dad wasn't alone, by the way, in starting a business at that time. So did Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. College be damned, they were going to make it work.

Recessions may stink when it comes to starting a new business, but they're also great. Competitors are busy shooting themselves in the foot leaving premium customers under-served. You can pick up resources like office space and staff on a shoestring. You can start out on a new paperless platform, vastly more efficient than what established-but-decaying companies suffer along with.

So is a recession a bad time to start a staffing company? Maybe, but it doesn't matter if you have the chops and the irrational exuberance to make it work.

Tags: Industry