Competition in government contracting has never been so fierce, and businesses are feeling it. Gone are the days when top-tier companies would pass by a $2 million contract or task order. Paradigm Solutions, an IT and business solutions provider, knows all about those odds. “When we step into a competition, we often have to take on top-tier contractors,“ says Anthony Verna, senior vice president for Paradigm. But Verna's not sweating it. Under his watch, Paradigm is continuing to develop its core competencies: enterprise solutions and information assurance. Recently, Verna offered ExecutiveBiz a glimpse into the Paradigm’s plans: to grow into a $200 million services provider over the next few years. A must-read for any smaller business looking to do the same.
ExecutiveBiz: What's your biggest challenge in business?
Anthony Verna: Our main challenge is continuing to develop our core competencies to stay relevant. Paradigm is a “very small large business,“ and we’ve had to develop competencies that are part of a bigger solution in the context of competitive procurement as well as in a client's day-to-day challenges. Being compelling technically while having strong knowledge of a client's mission and the subsequent challenges is critical for us.
ExecutiveBiz: What's the key to your growth? How are you maintaining relevance?
Anthony Verna: Our approach is to be aggressive, to pursue a lot of opportunities where we think we can help out “¦ whether it's helping a client's mission [directly] or helping an industry prime win a job because we bring niche capabilities to bear. For example, we've been working hard at rounding off niche skills in information assurance: things like computer and network forensics, incident response, SOC operations, training, continuity of operations, and disaster recovery. Our sweet spot is where we know the client mission and have deep technical skills to support. We look for these types of opportunities and then pursue them enthusiastically.
ExecutiveBiz: What impact do you foresee insourcing having on the market?
Anthony Verna: I think if the government gets a little more traction with sustaining and scaling the acquisition workforce, there will be less large contracts, and those that do endure will be solution-oriented. Like others in the market, Paradigm's staff is subject to being hired directly by our government customers. We view this as both a compliment and a challenge. We have developed some fairly agile recruiting processes, so we can adapt. But when the work is completely assumed by the government, it is disappointing. All we can do is be flexible and look for other ways to help. Avoiding complacency is a key to any successful endeavor. I think we all need to understand and work closely together to get through the challenges we face as a nation.
ExecutiveBiz: In an environment where the definition of “inherently governmental“ remains hazy, what advice can you offer other small companies?
Anthony Verna: Contractors are going to have to be more agile. They're also going to have to stay especially close to customers, maintaining intimacy with their mission. For example, we have a successful and ongoing client relationship management process where our top executives meet directly with our customers on a regular basis. We are small enough to do this and it pays big dividends. It really sets a tone when top management can engage technically and operationally at just about any level in the client organization. It is also critical to stay connected to the importance of attracting and retaining talented employees. By adding folks with technical skills and knowledge of our client's mission we ensure we stay current and are able to move forward.
ExecutiveBiz: What are you most passionate about in business?
Anthony Verna: Two things. First, to provide great support to our clients, especially in the case of really neat missions. Some of the things we do in computer forensics for national security and law enforcement are just really exciting, and it is especially gratifying to support such critical and highly important tasking. We all pay ourselves and we are in this together; it is so important to being passionate about doing good and important work for our clients. Second, building close relationships with my colleagues, whether that's my boss, the folks on my team, our clients or industry partners. Building enduring friendships and helping people realize their personal and professional dreams, that's what it's all about.
Gone are the days when top-tier companies would pass by a $2 million contract. So, how is your business responding? Share your comments here.