Todd Hager, Senior Vice President of BroadPoint Technologies (an SBA certified small business), led a panel of small business owners and managers in a discussion around success stories for the ACT-IAC annual conference. The participants were asked to answer the question, what lies in store for the small business as we emerge from this tumultuous economic storm? The conversation engaged the audience with interesting examples of how several small businesses utilized creative technology or methodologies to build their business and/or to successfully bid and win important and relevant work for their firm. The panel explored how leaders of successful small firms view the coming year and how best to approach the volatile government market, including some tips on how successful companies are transitioning from a small business to a mid-tier firm.
The panel was composed of a distinguished group of small, local business leaders, including:
• Scott Amey – President and CEO, Amyx, former co-founder of RS Information Systems
• Grace Jhong – President and CEO, Trusted Mission Solutions
• Paul Lombardi – President and CEO, TeraThink
• John Snider – President and CEO, NOVA Corporation
Though valuable processes, ideas, recommendations and steps were discussed, our conversation was overshadowed by the specter of a potential government shutdown which kept one of our panelists, Ana Recio Harvey, Director at the Small Business Administration, from participating. She was called back to the office by the Executive Director to work on shutdown strategy.
This topic was discussed and the panel offered many suggestions for ways to keep the team engaged, motivated and supported during a shutdown. One of the more thoughtful ideas came from Paul Lombardi who was planning a day of service for his team unable to work with their government clients where they could give back to the community and have fun in the process.
Scott Amyx offered a unique perspective of having built a company that was sold when it reached mid-tier. He recommended planning now for the inevitability of reaching the mid-tier with focus on differentiators that would be of value to partnering firms and potential clients regardless of your size. Grace Jhong offered the example of focusing on a quality certification, specifically becoming CMMI Maturity Level 3 certified as was the case with her firm. Using a gold standard for quality process and project execution helps to reduce the risk in a potential customer’s eyes while ensuring smoothness of operations and profitability in your own firm.
All panelists felt that even with high unemployment, finding the right candidate is still proving to be a challenge. Many firms look at marketing to and attracting talent in much the same fashion that they market to potential customers. It is strategically important for small firms to always be looking for the best possible candidates since this will be their “face” to the customers they serve. Additionally, the entire panel had a positive outlook on the economy and the potential for small firms to thrive in the government contracting market.