Large companies are loaded with talented people who have much to offer a small company in need of experienced managers. The trick is to find those who have the skills you need, who can adapt to a radically different business environment, and who are willing to take the plunge. These are often younger people who have spent a few years at a large company, but haven't been there so long that they have too much to lose by leaving. Of course, even after you've found such a candidate, you can't be certain that he or she fills the bill, so you'd be wise to build some incentives into the job offer.

That's what Stephanie MiMarco did when she hired a prospective sales manager for her company, Advent Software Inc., a San Francisco maker and distributor of financial-portfolio software. Her prime candidate was Suzanne Simmons, who had had seven years of sales experience and was managing a sales team at Xerox Corp. DiMarco offered Simmons a job as salesperson with the understanding that, if she worked hard and brought in customers, the national sales post -- as well as a piece of equity -- was hers. It meant a temporary step down for Simmons, and DiMarco had to spend five months courting her. But she eventually accepted the offer, did the job, and, a year and a half later, became Advent's national sales manager.