Sometimes finding your way as an entrepreneur or business owner just clicks. All of the right pieces fall neatly into place and what you’re left with – if you play your cards right – is a rewarding business you can continually shape to fit your goals. It’s an easier path for some to seek out than others. While being an entrepreneur is certainly not an easy title by any stretch of the imagination, on occasion you’ll round the bend to find a small hill to climb instead of an erupting volcano to scale.
Paul McNeal, founder of The Sturgeon Group based in Lorton, Virginia, found that by marrying two of his true passions together that a strong business could be made. “I’m the president of The Sturgeon Group, an IT consulting company, which is considered concierge IT. What led me into doing the type of work that I do is I had recently exited out of my previous business and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I did know two things. First, I knew I loved IT. The second is that I loved small businesses. So I decided to marry the two and see what I could come up with. From that birthed The Sturgeon Group and me working with small businesses.”
Technology is the lifeblood of any entrepreneur. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small town bakery serving your local community or selling muffins in the heart of NYC, keeping up with clients and the background gears of your business requires the internet. McNeal works to make sure entrepreneurs have the tools they need to stay connected. “Today’s world is moving incredibly fast towards mobile and it’s moving incredibly fast towards technology. Normally what I found was that those small businesses and solopreneurs are not as adaptable as younger generations. The Millennials, the Gen Y-ers, the Z-ers, they grew up with technology. I somewhat grew up with technology because I was in the military and Navy and had a tech background. I was used to dealing with technology. Anything these businesses do is technology based. Your computer, your phone, even your desktop phone…almost anything that these businesses work with is tech-based. You can look at it from a productivity perspective as well. If you’re on a computer then you will most likely use email. Even email systems – there’s a different way to look at it when it comes to the security of your email. A lot of security issues are happening via email. When I look at IT, I look at the full breadth of a person working and what they have to do to communicate with others and get things done.”
There are certain areas in the US which have erupted as technology hubs. New technologies are made there and evolve into household names. The DMV – D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area – is entering the fray as a competitor to the infamous Silicon Valley. McNeal feels the DMV area is the perfect place to grow his business. “Right now the DMV is exploding. We know that there was technically somewhat of a shift. The financial world had its financial issues and D.C. got involved a lot. The government got involved a lot as well. That pulled a lot of business, a lot of jobs, towards the D.C. area. D.C. is heavily dependent on government. But now I’m starting to see a transition out of government type businesses and into technology type businesses which is good for this area. I’m in the Lorton area and there’s a thriving industry when it comes to data centers. Data centers are exploding across the US – particularly in this area. The more we do online, the more data centers are going to be everywhere. While data centers don’t employ a lot of people, I think it’s going to bring in more and more businesses as more development happens in the technology space. So I think there will be a shift in the DMV from government to technology-type businesses.”