As part of her whirlwind “Ignite Tour” of business organizations around the country, Linda McMahon, administrator of the Small Business Administration, recently visited the Country Club of Darien to encourage small business owners to keep up the good work.
Since joining the Trump administration eight months ago, “the time has flown by,” the former CEO of Stamford’s World Wrestling Entertainment said.
“People ask me if I’m having fun and I say, ‘You know, I am having fun,” she said. “I’m absolutely, thoroughly enjoying what I’m doing and I hope I’m making
Noting that she’s known Donald Trump for “20 to 25 years,” McMahon said the country’s chief executive was looking for someone who “walked the walk and talked the talk” of running a business. His main advice, she said, was “Just do a good job.”
McMahon said she is committed to doing just that, “not only in service of the president, but in service of the American people.”
Invoking her two failed campaigns to become a U.S. senator in 2010 and in 2012, the SBA administrator said she had taken great pride from being seen as a role model for women everywhere.
“I met a lot of young girls who wanted a photograph or an autograph, or just wanted to meet me,” the Greenwich resident said. Saying she was surprised by such attention, McMahon said one mother explained to her that she was “one of the few women who aren’t singers or actresses that they can
look up to.”
She encouraged the roughly 350 people in attendance to view themselves as role models as well and challenged them to
never be afraid to try something new, whether it be in sports, school or their careers. “There’s no age limit” in learning, the 69-year-old declared, adding with a laugh, “Thank God.”
Also reflecting on her time at WWE — which she and husband Vince started in 1980 as Titan Sports — McMahon said that although they were ultimately able to grow it from a small business into a $729.2 million concern, she regretted not knowing about the SBA and its programs at the time.
Calling the SBA “one of the best-kept secrets in the country,” she said that one of her goals was to promote the organization’s many resources and services.
Operating on “three Cs and a D” — capital, counseling, contract and disaster — she noted that the group provides loans through credit unions and banks, including Waterbury-based Webster Bank, which she said is the leading SBA lender in Connecticut. In addition, the SBA provides a government-backed guarantee on those loans.
The SBA also helps lead the federal government’s efforts to deliver 23 percent of prime federal contracts to small businesses, she said. Those efforts include reaching woman-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. As SBA administrator, McMahon advocates on behalf of the almost 29 million small businesses in America, which employ nearly half of all American workers and account for 56.8
McMahon further stressed the “lifeblood” to the American economy that small businesses represent, saying that such firms create two of every three net jobs in the U.S. More than half of the American workforce either works for or owns a small business, she said.
The administrator also repeatedly invoked the SBA and the Trump administration’s disaster relief efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, especially in Puerto Rico — possibly as a riposte to repeated criticisms of how the administration has handled the situation in
the U.S. territory.
She concluded by counseling small businesses to not fear taking chances and learning from mistakes. “What looks like a failure may be an opportunity in disguise,” she said.
The Oct. 20 event, hosted by Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, was also presented by the Norwalk and Westport-Weston Chambers of Commerce as well as The Business Council of Fairfield County.