Some of the giants in the county’s entrepreneurial and business scene shared a bit about their journeys to the top of their industries at today’s Loudoun Small Business Conference.
The one-day conference, now in its second year, touched on everything from networking and branding to hiring and financials, and offered plenty of takeaways for everyone from those just getting started in their careers to seasoned entrepreneurs and business owners.
Eric Major, CEO of K2M, shared the ups and downs of starting his company in his garage and growing it to become a global leader of biomedical technologies. He said the company, based in Leesburg, grew from just one employee—himself—who went two years without a paycheck to a 1,000-employee enterprise. The key, he said, is to only do work you’re passionate about and to be patient through the journey.
“Success doesn’t happen overnight,” he added. He quoted Thomas Jefferson, saying that “the harder I work the luckier I get.”
“It’s not luck,” Major said. “It’s hard work, and you’re only going to work hard if you love it. Passion drives the success.”
In one of the several breakout sessions, a panel made up of three of Loudoun’s most successful business leaders shared tips about how to think—and act—like a CEO. The trio was Chris Marchetti, CEO at Excel Courier and Excel Logistics; Kristina Bouweiri, president and CEO of Reston Limousine; and Mike Huber, founder and CEO of Belfort Furniture and Stone Tower Winery.
Their comments focused on that moment in their journey where they transitioned from being involved in their companies’ day-to-day operations, to taking a more hands-off role to focus more on big-picture elements of the business. For Bouweiri, she felt she could make that switch when she hired a good general manager and paid him well.
“It freed up my time to look at the big picture and plan for the future rather than dealing with day-to-day operations,” she said. “I found that it’s important to hire good people and not try to do everything yourself.”
That gave her time to focus on expanding the company’s reach. She helped Reston Limousine land contracts with government contractors, universities and hospitals, and grow from owning five vehicles 250.
Huber agreed that building a strong team is a must. “I’ve always said I’ll know I’ve succeeded when I know I can leave my business for six months and sales and profits are up,” he said. “There’s definitely ups and downs, but hiring good people can multiply your efforts.”
The Loudoun Small Business Conference kicks off Loudoun Small Business Week, which runs through Friday. See the full schedule below.
The Schedule: Loudoun Small Business Week 2018
A full slate of events catering to Loudoun’s eclectic business community kicks off Monday, May 14, running through the following weekend. Find more information on Small Business Week at biz.loudoun.gov. Learn more about the Small Business Conference at loudounconference.com.
Monday, May 14
Small Business Conference
9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Washington Dulles Airport Marriott, 45020 Aviation Drive, Sterling
Tuesday, May 15
Business Awards Workshop: How to Get Nominated, Get Noticed
8:30-10 a.m., Leesburg Junction, 215 Depot Court, #101, Leesburg
Connecting at the Nexus of Data and Health
Noon-2 p.m., The George Washington University Virginia Science and Technology Campus, Exploration Hall, 20101 Academic Way, Room 101, Ashburn
The Future of Packaging
5:30-7 p.m., Lost Rhino Tasting Room, 21730 Red Rum Drive #142, Ashburn
Young Entrepreneurs Academy Graduation
5:30-7 p.m., K2M Inc., 600 Hope Parkway SE, Leesburg
Wednesday, May 16
1 Million Cups
9-10 a.m., Mason Enterprise Center, 202 Church Street SE, Leesburg
Exporting Luncheon: Sell More of Your Products
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Lansdowne Resort & Spa, 44050 Woodridge Parkway, Leesburg
Loudoun Tech Startups
5:30-7 p.m., Bungalow Lakehouse, 46116 Lake Center Plaza, Sterling
Movie and Panel: Farmers for America
5:30-8 p.m., Alamo Drafthouse, 20575 Easthampton Plaza, Ashburn
Leesburg Business Awards
6-8 p.m., Ida Lee Park Recreation Center, 60 Ida Lee Drive NW, Leesburg
Thursday, May 17
Innovation in the Defense and Intelligence Communities
8:30-11 a.m., Loudoun County Public Schools Administration Building, 21000 Education Court, Ashburn
Start Your Business
11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Gum Spring Library, 24600 Millstream Drive, Aldie
Unmanned and Ready for Business: The Sequel
11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Fireman’s Field and Bush Tabernacle, 250 Nursey Avenue, Purcellville
Loudoun Chamber After Hours Mixer
5:30-7 p.m., Burtons Grill, 21434 Epicerie Plaza, Sterling
Friday, May 18
How to Hire the Right Talent
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Brickyard Ashburn, 44927 George Washington Boulevard #265, Ashburn
Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20
Loudoun Spring Farm Tour
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., participating Loudoun County farms