Linda McMahon was nominated by President Donald Trump to be the next Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration back in December.
She answered questions before the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee on January 24, 2017. A final confirmation vote will most likely be held next week.
If she is confirmed, McMahon would replace Maria Contreras-Sweet and become the 25th SBA Administrator.
McMahon has a number of attributes going for her, including her direct experience starting and growing a family business.
Why Linda McMahon?
Here are seven reasons why Linda McMahon would make a great pick for head of the U.S. Small Business Administration:
1. McMahon Has Actually Made Payroll
Along with her husband, Vince McMahon, she built World Wrestling Entertainment (NYSE: WWE) into a billion dollar company — no small feat.
By all accounts Vince and Linda McMahon grew their company from nothing. Eventually they bought out Vince’s father’s business.
In her testimony before the Senate Small Business Committee, McMahon said: “My husband and I started out from scratch. We started out sharing a desk. Over decades of work and strategic growth we built it into a publicly traded global enterprise with more than 800 employees.”
“I remember the early days every month when I had to decide whether to continue to lease a typewriter or whether I could continue to buy it. Yes, believe it or not, that $12 a month at that time made a difference in our budget.”
She went on to say, “Like all small business owners, I know what it’s like to take a risk on an idea, manage cash flow, navigate regulations and create jobs.”
2. McMahon Has Bounced Back from Business Failure
Every small business owner has faced business difficulties.
What counts is what happens after we go through the bad times. Do we throw in the towel? Or do we continue on?
McMahon testified before the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee that she and her husband had to file for bankruptcy after an early business failed. They then had their car repossessed. Yet they bounced back and eventually decades later became billionaires.
“It’s not how you fall, it’s how you get up that matters,’’ McMahon testified.
3. McMahon Wants to Keep the SBA a Separate Agency
Over the years there have been calls to tuck the SBA under the wing of the Commerce Department. That is a bad idea, as we’ve pointed out.
Small business issues are very different from large company issues. The challenges are different, and they require different solutions.
Mix small business issues with large business issues, and which businesses will get short shrift? You guessed it. Small businesses will be the ones that get swept aside.
There are 28 million small businesses in the United States. We need someone focused on ensuring our issues get aired and solutions found.
At one point McMahon publicly advocated that she was in favor of combining SBA and Commerce, but testified on January 24 that she does not believe that today. “I am a firm believer SBA needs to be a stand alone agency,”she said.
We’ll take her at her word.
4. McMahon Wants Fast Disaster Relief for Small Businesses
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable following any type of disaster. Many can’t endure extended shutdowns of more than a few weeks, sometimes a few days.
“Disasters don’t pick a time. They happen. We need to be prepared for those disasters,” McMahon said during the hearing.
McMahon says she wants to take a look at the disaster relief program that the SBA currently is responsible for. She emphasized the importance of small businesses getting access to financial relief fast in the event of a disaster.
To get her point across, McMahon was critical of a previous SBA response to a disaster, Hurricane Sandy.
“When Sandy hit … there was a delay in the time of response from SBA. We have to be ready with disaster relief. When our small businesses are put out of business for a while, the economy suffers.
“We need to get those funds to them,” she said.
5. McMahon Wants to Ease the Regulatory Toll on Small Businesses
Many people talk a good game, and have the best intentions, but fall short because they don’t really understand the reality of running a business.
They’ve never had to juggle the demands of serving customers, bringing in sales, getting everyone paid — and still keeping regulators happy.
McMahon, however, understands it.
“I think we forget sometimes small businesses, especially mom and pop companies starting up … I have a special place in my heart for them. They’re the chief cook and bottle washer, CEO, CFO, every other thing. When they get a packet of regulation forms they have to fill out in order to comply with regulation, (a) they don’t know what to do with it, and (b) they can’t afford to hire lawyers to get through the regulatory environment. So either they become more at fault and not in regulatory compliance or they take time away from their business to do it. It is really difficult for small businesses to suffer under the burden of that type of regulatory environment,” McMahon testified.
6. McMahon Knows the Power of Belief
When others ridiculed the wrestling business, McMahon and her husband stuck with it.
But it’s hard to laugh at a business with a market capitalization today of nearly $1.5 billion.
Professional wrestling is hardly a traditional type of business. Half sport, half entertainment — it took a unique path.
Many small businesses start by finding a market niche that larger companies do not even see. It takes vision and determination. And belief in yourself.
7. McMahon Has Been an Advocate for Entrepreneurs, Especially Female Entrepreneurs
Since stepping down from the WWE in 2009, she unsuccessfully ran for office in Connecticut. Two years ago, McMahon started Women’s Leadership Live, an advocacy and support community for women entrepreneurs.
In the Committee hearing she explained why. “I always say entrepreneurs with the best ideas sometimes need wind beneath their wings.”
And that’s exactly the sort of attitude we need in the highest office in the land for small businesses.