Last night, I had the honor of helping the small business Champion-In-Chief, Linda McMahon, the head of the Small Business Administration, to kick-off National Small Business Week. Linda and I sat down for a chat in front of several hundred small business owners, several coaches (advisors and funders), and a few dozen small business fanatics (I am proudly part of that group).
Linda McMahon wowed the crowd when she explained her business story of grit and determination. Her business narrative started with a description of tough times (her and Vince’s car being repossessed in her driveway when she was pregnant with her second child) and ended with what is now WWE, a publicly traded global entertainment organization. Linda’s no-nonsense description of her life struck a chord with the friendly crowd, who themselves could relate to getting knocked down and then picking themselves up.
"Small businesses, truly are the glue in your community," she said.
I couldn't agree more.
Among the crowd was Carlos DelToro, CEO of SBG Technology Solutions, who received recognition is the SBA 8(a) program top graduate of the year (the 8(a) program is SBA’s for graduating from SBA’s 8(a) program, the agency’s initiative designed to level the federal procurement playing field for small businesses). The business, SBG Technology Solutions, is based near Washington, DCin Alexandria, but Carlos had just returned from San Diego where SBG just opened a West Coast office. I was privileged to meet Carlos when he was the commander of a Naval destroyer, have witnessed his tremendous success in SBG’s 14-year history, and I am honored to have Carlos as a leader on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Council.
During my interview with Linda McMahon, I was struck by the pride she had for every small business owner, for every small business coach, in the room and for the hundreds of business owners she has met with during the past 15-months. That pride is emblematic of the communities that surround every one of the National Small Business Week award winners. We honor the national awardees as employers, volunteers, family members, visionaries, innovators, entrepreneurs, and throughout it all we honor them as leaders.
Congratulations to the national award winners, to Linda McMahon and her team, and to our nation’s almost 30 million small business owners who truly represent free enterprise. The National Small Business Week Kick-Off was a humbling evening that left me inspired and energized (yes, even more than usual…). I am ready to run through flames, break down walls, and do whatever it takes to help small business owners succeed in America.