Running a young business is never easy, particularly during a period of rapid growth. While challenging, demanding and frustrating, it is rewarding when there are signs of progress and an indication of success.
That was the message from four CEOs at the recent 2014 CEO Evolution roundtable discussion hosted the by the University of Connecticut School of Business and sponsored by Citrin Cooperman.
Moderated by Mark Fagan, managing partner of the Norwalk office of Citrin Cooperman, the discussion featured Linda McMahon, co-founder and former CEO of WWE in Stamford; Austin McChord, founder and CEO of Datto in Norwalk; Paul Senecal, partner of United Services of America in Bridgeport; and Dr. John Votto, president and CEO of the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain.
Fagan, who created The CEO Evolution as a newspaper column, peppered the panelists with questions ranging from creating a corporate culture to daily challenges in running a business.
Starting a business is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week proposition, said McMahon, who with her husband, Vince, grew WWE from a live-event wrestling entertainment business into a publicly traded, global media business with revenue of $484 million in 2012.
"When you are building a company, you are in it every day. You can't take your foot off the gas," she said. "Today, there are over 200 licensees for WWE products."
It is essential that new employees understand the origins of WWE and contribute to the energy and excitement of the business, McMahon told an audience of about 200 at UConn's Stamford branch.
"We try to inspire people who walk into work every day like it's the first day on the job. There's no status quo, and check your egos at the door," she said.
McChord, who started his data backup technology business in a Wilton basement in 2007, has grown the company to 250 employees, with plans to hire at least 100 more this year. The company registered about $50 million in revenue in 2013.
"When it was small, we didn't sleep. Now, it's about finding incredible people who you trust," McChord said. "When you hire so fast, you realize you have to plan to hire what you need to get the job done. You have to make sure you indoctrinate them into your culture. You must absorb them into your community as soon as possible."
New hires must understand that Datto, a data backup solutions provider, is a service that is essential for the survival of a business, particularly in an emergency, he said.
"Literally, lives can be on the line. If there's been a tornado, they (corporate clients) need that data now," McChord said.
Empowering employees to contribute to the growth of the business is a way to instill commitment to the company and clients -- key ingredients in expanding operations, according to Senecal, who founded United Services, a regional cleaning service, with partner Michael Diamond in 2002. The company has operations in five states.Read Full Article
"We're very labor intensive. We have 1,700 employees," he said, adding that it is important to continually seek input from clients regarding performance. "You can't train enough. The effort you put into training employees makes them feel valued. Good pay and benefits brings consistency to the work force."
All four panelists stressed the importance of hiring qualified staff because a CEO of a young company has to learn to delegate authority.
"It's very important to hire good talent, lay out responsibilities and constantly ask questions," McMahon said.