Small Business Owner Grows Virtual Business to Multimillion-Dollar Company
In 2001, Laura Schoppe opened the virtual doors of Fuentek, LLC, a technology transfer company, from her home office in Apex, North Carolina. Today, the Latina business owner starts each workday from the same home office. The only difference being that Fuentek is now a multimillion-dollar company with a remote staff of 20 employees.
“When I started Fuentek, I knew I wanted to start a telework company,” said Schoppe. “I wanted to avoid the overhead of a brick and mortar.”
Telework was not the only unique decision Schoppe made in her early days as a business owner. With a long-standing career as a mechanical and aerospace engineer, Schoppe worked in government contracting for several years. When it came time to identify her business niche, she knew exactly what to focus on and how to do business with the government.
“I recognized a gap between those who used technology and those who did not speak the language,” said Shoppe. “When I first started my firm, I immediately reached out to the SBA about the SBA’s 8(a) program. From there, I went on to earn the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) certifications.”
The SBA’s 8(a) program is designed to help provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities. In turn, the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the 8(a) Business Development program.
Schoppe graduated from the 8(a) program in 2011. However, her WOSB and EDWOSB certifications enabled her to continue to compete in the procurement arena successfully. “The SBA programs provided me with an even playing field,” said Schoppe. “I did not need to compete against the big guys. I was given opportunities to acquire and complete contracts while providing a high quality of service only a small business could deliver.”
When asked what was most vital to Fuentek’s continued success, Schoppe was quick to proclaim the well-being of her staff. “Establishing and maintaining long-term relationships are a priority,” said Schoppe. “However, I also want to make sure that my staff maintains a good work/life balance and that they enjoy the work they are doing.”