This month, we’re introducing some of America’s most inspiring entrepreneurs by interviewing all 18 finalists for this year’s Dream Big Small Business Awards. The awards program honors the achievements of some of our nation’s most remarkable small business owners and celebrates their contributions to the American economy. We’ll be spotlighting a different finalist every day between now and the Small Business Summit 2017, where the winners will be announced (register to attend here).
The company: GCC Technologies
Who’s in charge: James and Shirley Bailey
Where are they: Oakland, MD
What they do: Whether we’re implementing innovative solutions that streamline acquisition or supporting the dismantling of the financial infrastructure that fuels international criminal activity, the work we do at GCC Technologies makes a difference every day. Our mission is to engage with our customers and provide outstanding services while recognizing and rewarding the ever important contribution of our employees.
Q: What inspired the creation of your business? What problem does it help to solve?
James Bailey: Most entrepreneurs have a driving spirit to create and grow a successful business in a particular area of interest. That is true for me and my business partner—who also happens to be my wife, Shirley.
We did, however, have others source of inspiration.
One, for example, was the traffic logjam on Interstate 270 in Maryland. This two hours-plus trek every work day became such a stressful burden that we felt we had to find a better solution. One day, while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, we looked at one another and said, “We do not have to do this. We can create our own business and be successful in our professions without working for someone else, and we can work from home.”
We both submitted our resignations from the company we were working for that very day and created Government Contracts Consultants, the forerunner of GCC Technologies, LLC. Our vision was to become a nationally recognized company providing exceptional acquisition support services to our federal customers.
Q: What barriers have you faced while building your company? How did you overcome them?
James Bailey: We encountered our greatest barrier when attempting to obtain the necessary financing to provide adequate cash-flow for business operations. Early in our existence, we found that banking institutions are less likely to provide lines-of-credit sufficient to cover you as you grow. We successfully overcame this impediment by continually managing financial operations, by controlling growth at a manageable pace, and creating equity in the company, as well as personally. This has served us well due to the fact that Government Contracting Officers must make a positive determination that your company is financially responsible before a contract can be awarded to you. We have never been denied a contract for this, or any other reason.
Q: What is your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
James Bailey: I think that our proudest moment was when we were awarded our first competitive government contract. Our first contract was to provide support to the U.S. Army, 14th Division at Fort Riley, Kansas. The contract value was just over $500,000, and we knew that we were “in the money.” It did not take long to realize that the value just covered all costs to perform the services, including taxes, insurance, overhead, and profit. It did not go as far as we first thought it would; however, it was a great beginning.
Q: Tell us about your company’s role in the community. How do you use your business to serve as a community leader?
James Bailey: GCC is very active in the communities where we work and live. Our Community Involvement Committee, an employee organized and operated body, was recognized in 2014 by the Governor of Maryland Community Services Award for its wide range of community support activities. Our committee has partnered with an array of charitable organizations, including AmeriCorps, the Christian Appalachian Project, United Way, Relay for Life, and Habitat for Humanity. We’ve participated in clothing and food drives as well as highway beautifications and Halloween events for children in rural communities.
GCC’s Community Involvement Program reaches everywhere the company operates, including our field offices in Alexandria, VA; Lexington Park, MD; and the Washington, DC metro area. We aspire to be an inspiration to other organizations and make an everlasting footprint on Western Maryland. As a small business, GCC has proven that it does not take thousands of employees to make an impact; it takes committed, driven, and passionate employees.
Q: What does it mean to not only have created your own job, but to also create jobs for others?
James Bailey: We consider this one of our greatest accomplishments and services to our community. Every time I walk into the office and realized that other people depend on GCC for their livelihood, it gives me a cold chill. It also reminds me that the company would not be in the position it is today without the hard work, devotion, and dedication of each and every one of our employees. We never lose sight of that fact, and we try hard every day to provide the best working environment, salary, and benefits package that we possibly can.
Q: If selected as the winner of the Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award, how will you invest the $25,000 grand prize?
James Bailey: As Shirley and I have said before, GCC is successful today because of the hard work, dedication, and support of our employees. Investing that grand prize in our employees is the right thing to do with it.
Q: What advice would you give to other small business owners looking to grow their business or someone who is just starting out with a new business?
James Bailey: For those who are seeking to grow their business, I would encourage them to not be afraid to take risks. That does not mean that you should move out without doing your homework. Establish your goals and follow through until success has been achieved. Adjustments will always be required along the way, but that is part of the fun in being an entrepreneur. A small success is better than no success at all and you will never get there if you do not try.
For those who are just starting out, choose something that you enjoy doing and create a business plan that will help you get there. Seek advice from those who have gone before you. If you can, find a mentor who is willing to help and guide you along the way. Remember that perseverance is your strength and ally! Learn from your mistake and remain open to taking risks. Know your competition and build relationships that can help you grow. Most importantly, never, never, never give up!