A leader in the information systems and technology industry for more than 20 years, Maria Beckett founded Maricom Systems, Inc. in 1996 as a one-person consulting firm. Over the last 15 years, it has grown to a workforce of more than 200. Maricom provides data and database management services, systems development, business intelligence and customer support services to a variety of industries, including the federal government. She now serves as president of The Presidents’ Roundtable, an organization of African American presidents and CEOs working to accelerate the growth of minority businesses.

Key to her success:

“Surrounding myself with smart and talented people. The company I ran for more than 15 years would not have been as successful as it was had it not been for the incredible talent of our technical, administrative, management and contracting staff.” 

What almost derailed her:

“I believe my technical background and training were an asset and obstacle to building a successful business. As a technician, I was very effective in building client confidence and a reputation for providing quality information management services. However, it was difficult for me to slip into the role of ‘entrepreneur.’ My ‘on-the-job’ training included accounting, sales and marketing, benefits management. Being hands-on in every aspect was necessary, challenging, and worrisome at times, but in the end rewarding.”

First gig:

“When I was 12, I had a paper route in Edgewater Park, N.J. I delivered the Burlington County Times. I made a decent income and remember being very excited to pay for Christmas gifts for my family with my own earnings.”

Work ethic:

“Once I have a task in hand, I tend to work through it relentlessly until it is complete.”

Hardest thing about success:

“I did find that it was difficult to identify peers that understood the challenges and stress related to owning and running a business. My membership in The Presidents’ Roundtable was very instrumental in allowing me to learn from seasoned entrepreneurs.”

Smartest move:

“To hire a team of highly skilled technical professionals and a management team that had a depth of experience with our largest client. This was key to the company’s growth.”

Biggest misstep:

“Starting the business without a solid business plan. With a plan in place, many of [my] missteps could have been avoided. Fortunately for Maricom, we were still successful before our first plan was developed during out third year of business. Many companies are not as fortunate.”

Next move:

“Family time, travel, golf and enjoying life. I have no immediate plans to build a new business.”

Advice to the aspiring:

“1. Follow your instincts.
2. Get by with a little help from your friends (in business relationships are everything!).
3. You gotta have faith … and a reasonable line of credit.
4. No job is too small.
5. Be expert in your craft and someone will notice.
6. There is no “I” in Team.
7. Surround yourself with smart and talented people.
8. Family first!”