External expertise and alternative perspectives are invaluable resources when you are growing a small business, but they are not always readily available or easy to find. Chris Baeten, CEO and owner of Knight Federal Solutions – and an Orlando Business Journal 2019 CEO of the Year – had the wisdom and foresight to go looking for them, and he found them in the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida’s (FSBDC at UCF) Advisory Board Council Program (ABC).
Knight Federal Solutions leverages its core competencies – simulation & training, cybersecurity, and intelligence analysis – as a trusted provider to industry leading prime contractors and Department of Defense and Intelligence Community customers, having established strong standards and practices to ensure execution and mission delivery. Their motto says it all: “Armored in Excellence. Driven by Results.”
“We take that commitment very seriously,” says Baeten. “If we have not done so already, we aim to hire the highest level of subject matter expertise in our core competencies. Most importantly, we are driven by our results, and delivering for our customers.”
Baeten’s pursuit of excellence was a motivator in approaching the FSBDC and ultimately participating in the Advisory Board Council Program. FSBDC’s Advisory Board Council provides no-cost, customized boards of volunteer experts selected to address the specific needs of the FSBDC client by providing advice and counsel to help the business grow. “I didn’t have a strong enough accountability mechanism,” recalls Baeten, “so, I turned to Jill Kaufman, the FSBDC’s ABC program director, and decided an advisory board would be beneficial for my organization.”
“The Advisory Board that the FSBDC provided me had six individuals who had very different backgrounds across multiple specialties, including expertise in marketing, finance, and the law. I also had people from my industry who had experience helping small businesses grow. They were able to provide support in areas we weren’t focused on.”
Working with this team of volunteer advisors, Knight Federal strengthened its capital position and worked to bring its back office in line to be compliant for DoD contracts. They addressed legal issues that a small business might not ordinarily consider. Additionally, according to Baeten, “Most importantly, we were able to put together a marketing and public relations plan that gained us exposure locally and nationwide that has really paid dividends for us. We have been recognized with numerous awards, including being named to the Inc. 5000 (ranked #261 in Florida) and as one of Central Florida’s Top 25 Modeling, Simulation & Training Companies by the Orlando Business Journal – both for two consecutive years.
“With the plans we put in place, including the marketing, business development and building our pipeline, since we first started with the FSBDC, we’ve grown our business by almost 56% over the past three years,” remarked Baeten. “I think if anyone is given the opportunity to work with the FSBDC and have an Advisory Board Council, they should look at it as a blessing and a privilege. I didn’t quite understand until I got in the middle of it just how beneficial it could be.”
For more information about Knight Federal Solutions, please visit https://knightfederal.com/