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Survey of High Tech Company Leaders Points Out Need for Personal Growth

MADISON, WI – There has been a fair amount of press about the future of high tech in the Wisconsin market. Questions about availability of venture capital, qualified lab technicians, support from the state and local governments, and leadership to take the fledgling companies to profitability all dog these emerging companies.

The question of leadership in the high tech niche was of interest to Smith & Gesteland, a local Madison CPA and consulting firm with a strong foothold in the high tech market. The firm conducted a study last year on Venture Capital availability for Wisconsin companies. This year they followed it up with a survey on significant issues faced by high tech firms. The study focused on leadership needs of the organization executives and entrepreneurs, but also ventured into other business issues for these companies.

The firm used an online survey to gather information from entrepreneurs who identified themselves as being in the top levels of management of their organizations. 70% had been in leadership position for less than 5 years, 50% less than 2 years.

When asked to identify how they spend their day, the majority of the executive’s responded that business development and day-to-day operations occupied their time. This is followed by product development, research, executive leadership, financial management, and fundraising. Leadership will play a significant role in the work of these managers. 56% of the respondents stated that the amount of time they expect to spend on their executive leadership role would need to increase. The number one issue that they said needed the most work was “refining leadership role as the business evolves”. An observation can be made that the leaders within these organizations must spend the time focusing on leading rather than managing the day to day management issues. Perhaps it is a matter of size and life cycle of the organization that keeps the leaders from leading because of the time spent running the business.

Smith & Gesteland was pleased to see that high tech entrepreneurs and executives saw leadership as a priority and that they were willing to spend time developing their capabilities so that the organization would be able to succeed over the long-term. The question remains how entrepreneurs are able to balance the expectations of raising funding, performing research and running the day-to-day operations while keeping their eyes on the future.

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