Beyond all expectations

Anthony Jimenez is living the American dream, and then some. In the past four years, he has become known as one of the nation's most successful small-business entrepreneurs. His path to success has been guided by hard work, perseverance and the lessons of military discipline.

The son of working-class parents, Jimenez joined the U.S. Army as a young man and rose in rank to lieutenant colonel. After he left the Army, he grew restless and wondered if there was more to life than a corporate paycheck. He soon discovered that great opportunities awaited the right kind of entrepreneur - one possessing a combination of organizational skills, drive and capability. He gathered up $250,000, drafted a business plan and struck out on his own. That was 2004.

Today, he is chief executive officer and president of MicroTech, an information-technology and network services company that finished 2007 topping $10 million in revenue. The Minority Enterprise Executive Council selected him as one of the 25 Most Powerful Minority Men in Business. His company was named one of the top 100 Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned businesses by Diversity magazine. MicroTech earned the Excellence in Partnership Award for Most Successful Newcomer by the Coalition for Government Procurement. Jimenez also was selected Entrepreneur of the Year for InfoBusiness by Hispanic Business Magazine, and Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year by the Veteran Business Journal.

A life member of The American Legion, Jimenez serves on the Legion's national Business Task Force and helps his fellow veteran entrepreneurs get a leg up on business. Jimenez recently talked with The American Legion Magazine.

Q. How has MicroTech been so successful in such a short amount of time?
A. It starts with a well-reasoned business plan. I knew a little about small business before I retired from the military, but it wasn't until I got a job with Unisys that I saw the phenomenal opportunities for small businesses. So, I put together a business plan outlining what I thought I might need to do to be competitive and to entice the federal government and large companies to do business with me.
Once that was in place, MicroTech had to perform. You just can't talk the talk. You have to walk the walk. If you fail your customers, word will get around and you'll soon be out of business. Our partnerships with larger established companies such as Microsoft, Symantec, Autonomy and EMC are important aspects of our success. They give us "reach-back" that enables us to enhance our ability to provide solutions to our customers.
Most importantly, you have to have a talented, loyal, reliable and dedicated team to succeed. I believe we have one of the best management teams and professional staffs in the business.

Q. What's the makeup of the team?
A. We have about 120 people at MicroTech. Approximately 70 percent of them are veterans and 30 percent of those are service-disabled veterans.

Q. Why so many veterans?
A. Veterans understand what I like to refer to as business basics - show up for work, do a good job and expect to make a fair wage. There are many things in the corporate world that parallel military experience. The harder you work, the more likely it is you're going to be recognized. And the more you are recognized the more likely you advance in the company. You don't need to train veterans about how that's done. They've seen it. They've experienced it for two, four, six or 20 years. People who have experienced military life understand that teamwork is paramount and that there can be no success without obtaining the objective. Veterans know how to keep their focus on the objective.

Q. Did your status as a service-disabled veteran influence your business model?
A. My intent was to start a small business to provide benefits to larger companies as well as to the government. It was not my original intent to start a service-disabled veterans and minority small business. But since I owned the majority of the company, my status as a service-disabled veteran and as a minority provided the company the opportunity to bid on contracts that we might not have been able to bid had we not had that designation. Our status opened doors that might otherwise have been closed to us.

Q. What are you learning from the experience?
A. Small-business success breeds more small-business success. Also, when a small business stumbles and falls, it sets everyone back years. Everyone is quick to point out failures and not as quick to point out successes. Service-disabled businesses that are good at what they do are good for all service-disabled small businesses.
We feel very fortunate, and I think a lot of the agencies with which we work do, too, because everyone likes to be able to tell a good-news story. We have been a very successful small business that is growing rapidly, that is doing it the right way. And we think what we bring to the table is what all veterans and service-disabled veterans bring - discipline, knowledge of how things work in the military, and an understanding that there are certain things that are expected of you to be successful.

- James V. Carroll