Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ken Kanara, CEO of ECA Partners, located in Santa Monica, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

ECA Partners is a specialized project staffing, and executive search firm focused on private equity and PE portfolio companies. We provide our clients with the very best talent to execute their value-creation plans. Example roles include: PortCo CFOs, PortCo CEOs, M&A Leaders, Portfolio Operations Leaders, Strategy Leaders, Interim CFOs and Controllers, PMO Consultants, and more.

We use a proprietary, evidence-based approach to recruiting that leverages data and technology to ensure the very best outcomes for our clients. We invested millions in building our industry-leading Talent Management System, CASCADE, that gives our clients an edge both in terms of speed to hire and the likelihood of success. We've conducted thousands of searches for hundreds of clients across private equity, corporate strategy, search funds, consulting firms, and more.

Tell us about yourself

After nearly a decade in management consulting, I never thought I would end up in the executive search and recruiting industry. That all changed after a serendipitous lunch with Atta Tarki, founder of ECA and author of Evidence-Based Recruiting. After meeting with him, I realized recruiting combines two of the things I love: people and data. I get to wake up every day and work with incredibly smart people and clients. I couldn't be happier with how my career has turned out.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

For the first couple of years at ECA, we used presentations to update our clients during weekly meetings. This meant for every executive search we were doing, we would create anywhere from 8-12 presentations, depending on the length of the search. As we grew our client base, we also multiplied the number of PowerPoint decks we had to build.

With our rapid growth, we made the decision to harness the power of technology to improve our process and service to our clients. To that end, we set out to build a proprietary Talent Management System. CASCADE. CASCADE is now a tool that our clients rely on to manage a variety of searches in real time. This was our first experience building software, and something I'm very proud of our team for accomplishing!

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

The hardest thing about leading a business is developing and protecting a culture of excellence. When I worked in consulting, I would roll my eyes anytime someone started talking about 'soft and squishy' cultural concepts.

Now, I see the importance of nurturing, maintaining, and protecting the incredible culture we have at ECA. Every decision we make, we think about how it will impact the team. For example, we've turned down talented individual contributors for internal roles simply because they didn't exemplify our core values during the interview process. That's tough to do when you want to grow!

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Get going! My dad always told me, "people find a reason to do things, or they find an excuse not to."
  2. Sales cure all...Mark Cuban is famous for saying this, and I couldn't agree more. Everything else is noise.
  3. Stay in shape, eat healthily, and avoid drinking alcohol...this is a long game, and no one is perfect, but you gotta take care of your health!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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