Steve Edwards founded Edwards Performance Solutions 21 years ago.
Edwards Performance Solutions helps businesses reach their full potential in project management, cybersecurity, systems engineering, and leadership.
Edwards' Founder Steve Edwards and CEO Gina Abate receive the 2018 Business Philanthropy Award.
Edwards dedicated team delivers unmatched understanding and expertise in enterprise management—the company is built upon the fundamental principles of program and portfolio management.
REPLY ALL | Steve Edwards
Founder, Edwards Performance Solutions
Maryland Chamber of Commerce board member
Edwards Performance Solutions helps businesses optimize their operational performance through project management, cybersecurity, IT services, and training.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background and what lead you to where you are today, founder of Edwards Performance Solutions?
I’m a native Marylander, born and raised in Perry Hall in the northern end of Baltimore County. My wife and I later settled in Ellicott City.
My background is in systems engineering. After working in a few hospital systems around the Baltimore area, I worked with defense contractors, where I learned systems engineering and program and project management, running large government programs.
I’ve always had the desire to start a business, to create something, to build something. When I started my business, I wanted to help other organizations and build a culture around the employees, customer satisfaction, and providing the highest quality solutions— somewhere I would want to be employed.
I started in the den of our home [in 1997], then later we moved to the basement. We grew from the basement to our first set of offices in Columbia, then moved to Hanover and now, presently, our headquarters are in Elkridge. We have a little over 100 employees [in Elkridge] an office in Woodlawn, and teams throughout the Rockville and DC corridors.
We’ve grown from just myself to a little over 100 folks in the past 21 years.
This month the Maryland Chamber is focusing on small businesses. What are some of the challenges small businesses face?
Small is a relative term, small business can be one or two people, to 10 to 15, or, in our case, right around 100. Small businesses come in all sizes with different challenges, but a recurring theme is strategic growth. For me, starting in my home office and growing to our current size, across multiple locations, the key has always been not getting too big too quickly and knowing what we do and focusing on doing it well.
A challenge that I faced early on was trying to allocate my time. Because I was a doer, as well as a getter, I would have to do the work during the day and then figure out how I was going to get the next job to continue building and growing the company. Over the years, we’ve grown and I’ve been able to add additional staff to the company and build a leadership team so I can spend most of my time focusing on the community and outreach.
What advice would you give to other small businesses on the challenges they may face?
Focus on the strategic growth of the business. It is critical to take that step back on a periodically and set realistic goals. Set the one-year, the three-year, the five-year organizational goals. But, don’t stop at what you want to be, figure out how you’re going to get there. A true goal has a plan behind it and markers so you can periodically look at where you’re going, and make course corrections along the way.
Focus on your people. Your business grows with a reputation for good work. Working at the highest levels of quality means finding the right people and giving them the tools they need to succeed.
A company reputation takes a lifetime to build and can be tarnished quickly.
Edwards Performance Solutions is more than 20-years-old and has been ranked multiple times in Baltimore’s Top Workplaces. What advice can you give on running and sustaining a business for the long haul?
Listen and communicate.
Listen to the market. Listen to your employees and listen to your customers. Truly listen to what they have to say, what’s going right and what’s going wrong. Once you have listened, then you can effectively communicate.
Communicate your solutions efficiently to the market. Communicate your vision to your employees. And, communicate innovation to customers, building trusted relationships.
None of us woke up this morning and while we were getting ready for work looked in the mirror and said, “What can I fail at today? What can I royally mess up?”
We want to be successful, human nature is such that we don’t want to fail. Most failures occur when we don’t know what what’s expected, how to get there and when to do it. Listening and effective communication can remedy that.
Communication is paramount.
What first got you involved with the Maryland Chamber?
The business advocacy and the networking opportunities, as well as the opportunity to get in front of people and develop new business.
I’ve always believed in their mission and now, I am thoroughly enjoying assisting to shape their initiatives.
What motivates you personally?
Philanthropy, faith, and family.
I grew up in a family that didn’t have a lot of means, but my family always gave back. They were very involved in their church, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the community. That’s what continues to drive me today—my faith, family and giving back.
Small business fuels Maryland’s economy. Are you an SMB? We’ve got a set of great business resources, check them out here: Business Resources.
Be sure to attend our cyber series event, The Cloud as a Security Solution, on December 13th to keep your small business secure.