While still in school, he was hired in 1999 by Spectrum Communications to pull cable and dig trenches, installing underground cable in Southern California schools.
“It was a good niche for me — I loved it,” he said.
Today, StealthCom is a Colorado Springs-based telecommunications contractor, specializing in design and installation of cabling infrastructure for the Department of Defense.
In its first year, in 2006, the minority-owned company had three employees and $236,554 in revenue. By 2009, the company had grown to 14 employees and more than $2 million in revenue.
The company’s big breakthrough came in 2007, when it won the bid for cabling installation in the headquarters building at Fort Carson.
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
Cash flow is the most difficult thing to deal with as a small-business owner.
Whatever capital you think it will take to start-up a business — you need to double that because until you’re making money and have capital and assets, you can’t get a loan. I’ve heard it so many times (from bankers), “You have the tiger by the tail, but we can’t help you — the financials aren’t there.”
What’s the most important piece of staying successful?
Knowing that you can only do so much by yourself. You need the right nucleus of employees. And you have to be able to separate business from personal. The worst part of the job is firing someone. But you have to do what it takes to make your business successful.
What traits must an entrepreneur possess?
Passion. But it’s not just for entrepreneurs — it’s for anybody. If you find something you’re passionate about, you will be successful. Watching your business grow is almost like seeing your baby mature. I’m passionate about being an entrepreneur and running my own business. My father was so supportive of us. He’d say, “Whatever your heart tells you to do — do it.” If I decided to open up an ice cream shop tomorrow — I’d be successful.
What motto do you live by?
Failure is never an option.
Whom do you admire?
I admire any entrepreneur. You have to keep the books, manage personnel, clean the bathroom — it doesn’t matter. You have to do everything. I also admire my wife and the way she raises our kids and keeps our home. It’s my happy place to come home to. And my dad. I was raised by a single father. He taught us responsibility. I remember him teaching me to balance a checkbook when I was 9-years-old. We learned the value of a dollar. We knew we only had a certain amount of dollars — so we didn’t ask for toys or candy.
What the most difficult part about federal contracting?
The contract itself. Some of the solicitations (requests for proposal) are 800 pages long. If they tell you it needs to be Arial font 12 and you don’t follow that, they will kick your proposal out of the process. It’s very time-consuming.
What first interested you about military contracting?
A lot of people became (more) patriotic after 9/11. I knew then that I wanted to get into the federal market. There’s nothing cookie-cutter about working with the military — it changes every single day. You have to make sure they have the best technology available. And most of the best technology today is developed by small businesses.
When I started military contracting, they told me, “In the military, if a network goes down, you’re putting lives at risk. That is not an option.” That’s when I knew it was a completely different ball game.
<strong>Audio excerpt of the interview with Jason Aguilar.</strong>[audio:http://csbj.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jason_aguilar_4-9-10.mp3]