Within two years, CBIZ had $550 million in revenue, 240 offices in 45 states and 800 franchise offices.
After taking time off to "play with" equity investments, Skoda and his original partners reconvened as Skoda, Minotti & Co. with fewer than 20 employees. This winter, the Mayfield Village firm's 100 employees were planning a move into the facility attached to their current office, doubling their space.
Smart Business spoke with Skoda about his tips for managing growth.
When is the right time for a CEO to pursue growth?
This whole notion of growing a business is one of making sure that the organization is prepared to take those next couple of steps. There's an introspective look at the people and the processes that the organization currently has.
Do I have the right marketing plan, right resources, right customer service folks in place? Am I just going to survive or am I going to thrive?
Then you can look at the financials and say, 'How can I afford this?' You need to make sure your base is in place. A lot of companies don't do that and fall flat.
Who should serve on a CEO's growth management team?
(In addition to the owner), the leaders in the different segments of the business are key people to get involved on the team. But the reality is, when you're looking inside the organization, if you're going to grow, you've got to get everybody on the team.
One of the tricks is to get everybody bought in. Then the question is, is that enough? You could put a mix of people together and form an outside board of advisers that might be able to prove invaluable to somebody who wants to grow in a meaningful way.
How can a CEO keep employees and clients/customers happy during a growth period?
Communication with people inside the organization, and making sure everybody knows what the plan is, making sure that the first step in the plan is taking care of the customers that we have today. That really should be the thing that we start every day with.
It shouldn't be, 'Where are we going to get the next piece of business, or where are we going to get the next acquisition?' There needs to be the core part of the company that is focused on what it is we do every day.
What mistakes do CEOs often make when managing growth?
People don't think through all the ramifications that can touch each part of the business. People don't think through the stress and strain it's going to put on (employees) -- the crazier environment it could potentially create, the more hours it may take people to work, the people who may just not fit inside a larger organization.
There needs to be a lot of planning for growth. That doesn't mean somebody needs to create a three-volume set of books. You can plan on the corner of a napkin.
But other than getting there by sheer luck, you really need to be thoughtful about how your team is going to approach taking the next steps, as opposed to waking up one morning and saying, 'Let's start running, and we'll deal with whatever damage happens along the way.'
What can Smart Business readers learn from your experiences?
The vast majority of it traces back to getting the right people inside your organization, getting them energized about the mission that you have, keeping them focused and on task. It's finding the right people to surround your organization in terms of advisers.
It's better if you can find people who have been there and done it before so you don't have to learn everything as a new lesson. There's a lot of pain in new lessons.
And then making sure the people you line up are people you want to do business with for a period of time. Finding people who are experienced at doing what it is that you want to do is really important.
HOW TO REACH: Skoda, Minotti & Co., (440) 449-6800 or www.skodaminotti.com