6 Things to Know: Advice for Small Business
Growing comes from learning. Here we catch up with Michael Riordan, CEO of RavenTek, to get his insight on how humility, greed, and understanding the process can impact small business growth
Make Time for Strategy
Among the challenges for any small business owner starting off a new endeavor is balancing the day-to-day while also being strategic about growth. Between accounting, HR duties, and ensuring compliance is met, hours can be spent simply managing.
Taking on a breadth of projects as a subcontractor and learning from its partners along the way, RavenTek found ways to outsource what it could. This ensured that leaders could focus their efforts on higher-level strategic planning.
To grow as a small business, you need to ensure a steady stream of revenue that will support hiring, growth strategies, and successful delivery of projects. As a small business looking to gain a foothold in the federal space, that revenue stream often comes from partnering.
Mike recommends companies take time to identify how their prospective agencies buy, who the players are succeeding in the space, and then work to develop relationships that can lead to partnership opportunities. Getting a foot in the door and being able to earn a piece of the pie is a way to ensure a consistent revenue flow that will allow you to grow and pursue more opportunities. Bonus: You can potentially land bigger pieces of the business.
Speaking to the notion of pieces of the pie, a philosophy of avoiding greed is a win/win. Mike says he has seen organizations so focused on a singular deal and maximizing value that they lose sight of their long-term business growth strategy.
When you are considering partnerships, consider who strengthens the team and who offers the best chance of supporting a win rather than which partnership will give you the biggest piece of the pie. This method also looks to that long-term strategy.
Doing things the right way, being a good partner, and valuing those you team with help you establish a reputation that will see you as a sought-after partner on many more opportunities than you could have achieved alone.
Respect the Process
Part of respecting the process also means understanding how customers can access you. Mike says putting in the work to bid on as many GWACs as you can, ensuring you have a seat at those tables, not thinking about today but thinking about what you may need five years down the road, ensures those customers who do value you have the means to continue working with you. Understand the short and long-term value of any contract vehicle and opportunity; allow that to help guide your go/no-go decision.
You must also understand that your role is to execute any job successfully and to bring patterns that demonstrate to a prime that you will execute on their behalf.
Define who You Are – Or Not
Whether you decide from the start the kind of company you want to be and what your focus will be, or whether you allow that to evolve over time, it is important to be able to support any claim you make. That means if you claim proficiency in cybersecurity, you either need to have that skillset ingrained in your team or you need a valid partner who possesses that past performance.
It is possible to start from a place of being undefined, of allowing your wins and successful deliveries to help determine who you are and where your ultimate capabilities reside. Either way, a partner strategy is key to helping you succeed by supporting your claimed expertise.
Lead with Humility
As a leader, it is important to focus on employees first to ensure you are meeting your commitments to them. Make sure you are compensating those who demonstrate skill and can help you grow.
It is also important to lead from a place of humility, to admit when mistakes were made, and to acknowledge potential weaknesses or flaws. Humility means listening to the people on the ground and being willing to change, shift and pivot as the market or the business dictates.
As a company grows and looks to redefine its goals and purpose, that humility also means leading an internal conversation about next steps, thinking about how resources are allocated, both building toward the future and maintaining whatever is good that should be carried forward.
Part of humility recognizes that for all of us, life could have gone another way. For RavenTek, that has led to a focused effort on giving back. Since 2014 the company has supported No Boundaries, hosting regular fundraising events that engage the team and allow the company an outward focus.
The Future for RavenTek – RavenVISION
With an early focus in enterprise monitoring and cybersecurity, RavenTek has refined their technology offerings over the years based upon their core competencies. RavenVISION (Visibility Integration of Security, Infrastructure, Operations, and Networks) is a single context enterprise observability framework powering dynamic intelligence for Zero-Trust visibility, analytics, automation and orchestration, and governance. RavenTek’s RavenVISION methodology for Zero Trust would not have been possible without a relentless focus on business sustainability, sound partnering practices, and continuously improving their core competencies to meet market demands. By staying true to its core business growth principles, RavenTek has created a unique and differentiated offering in the world of managed cyber services and data automation and governance.
RavenTek is an IT modernization and integration company. We deliver and customize leading-edge agile solutions, services, and products to mission-critical organizations, primarily federal government agencies. We provide systems integration and IT engineering, specifically around data center optimization, cloud migration and consolidation, modernization, application performance analysis, and improvement, end-user experience improvement and network performance, cybersecurity, including endpoint threat detection, threat intelligence analysis, data center protection, DDOS protection, and multifactor authentication.