For many entrepreneurs, family time is hard to squeeze into a busy schedule. But for FedBiz IT Solutions' CEO Nina Tiaga, family time is all the time.
Tiaga established the Leesburg, Virginia-based IT contractor in 2011 with her husband as her only co-worker. Having met while they were both enlisted in the Air Force, the couple now helps various governmental organizations with services as complex as cloud data storage, network management, and information security. In response to a boom in federal contracts over the past five years, the Tiagas have also brought on three of their children to help run the business.
Together, the Tiaga family has racked up serious growth for FedBiz, which is No. 10 on the 2016 Inc. 5000. In three years, revenue increased more than 12,600 percent, to $25.8 million in 2015; staff expanded to 11. With another quarter still left in 2016, FedBiz's revenue is already up 209 percent over the same period a year ago, according to data provided by the company.
Tiaga is circumspect about her company's success, as the entrepreneur started out in a very different world. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and immigrating to the U.S. at age 5, she says, "growing up, I didn't have roots anywhere." Though, she adds, it was a great experience: "Getting to live so many places and traveling around a lot, I got to meet a lot of people."
She joined the Air Force in 1980, serving for four years and eventually meeting her husband. In 1995, the couple decided to set down roots and raise a family. They chose the Washington, D.C., suburbs because it was "not too far north, not too far south, and close to family."
In 2011, as her kids--all seven of them--were finished with school, Tiaga and her husband, Don, decided to combine their technology and government backgrounds--giving rise to what is now FedBiz IT Solutions.
Working alongside family members is natural, says Tiaga, who homeschooled her children for 18 years. However, working together requires clear boundaries. "My family tends to be very close-knit," she says. "But when we're at work, we're at work. We can put on our different hats when we're at home."
Similarly, contracting with the federal government has taken strategic thinking. As a woman- and minority-owned small business, FedBiz is eligible for specialized government contracts. The company has garnered many acronym-laden credentials that allow it to work with federal agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Labor. The company is also located in an economic HubZone, an area designated by the U.S. Small Business Administration as being historically underutilized. The designation helps the company receive additional priority when bidding on contracts.
Still, its location in a HubZone has made other elements of the business more difficult. For instance, Tiaga says, hiring has been tough. "It's good for the community and good for the economy," she says. "But it is a bit of a challenge for us as an IT company, because we sometimes can't find people with the necessary skills that live in the area. There's extra time required to train them."
Tiaga remains hopeful about future challenges--and she stays busy, which helps deflect some of her concerns. And with the end of the government's fiscal year on the horizon next month, she has more than enough to occupy her. "We're definitely the new kids on the block," she admits. "But we're doing big things to get our name out there."