Smita Siddhanti, Ph.D.

STANDOUT IN A CROWDED SPACE

Smita Siddhanti, Ph.D.
President
EnDyna, Inc

After years of working with other government consulting firms, Smita Siddhanti decided to try starting her own back in 1999. EnDyna, a policy, science and management consulting firm, specializes in six practice areas: training; human capital, policy and program support; communication and outreach support; environmental management, health and safety; emergency management; and conference and meeting support.

In less than 15 years, Smita Siddhanti grew her firm from a solo practice to a business with 40 employees. Her clients have included The U.S. Department of Transportation, FEMA, EPA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and many others.

EnDyna has thrived in an extremely competitive industry. According to Siddhanti, the profit margin may not be as big as working with the private sector, but the U.S. Government is the world’s largest employer, making government services an attractive industry for many businesses.

Siddhanti believes the experience she and her team bring to each client is what sets EnDyna apart from other firms in this crowded space. Prior to founding the business, Siddhanti spent 15 years working with some of the top consulting firms as arisk assessment and management expert. She also worked extensively with the other state and federal agencies to develop regulations, policy, guidance, market-based approaches to environmental protection and training. Siddhanti is a published author of Multiple Perspectives on Risk and Regulation: The case of deliberate release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment and she has served on the Virginia Governor’s Air Quality Board.

Here Siddhanti talks about the challenge of staffing a micro-business and how she created a competitive advantage.

Q: As your business grew from a one-woman operation to 40 employees, how did you meet the challenge of finding talent with the right qualifications? How did you attract them to work with your business? 

A: I want to confess that the hardest thing about building the business was to find the right talent to work for small micro-businesses. However, I did find the talent when I needed it. Somehow, my professional network helped a great deal by being in the business of consulting. Also, as the opportunities came, the talent we were looking for changed with the nature of work — whether it was environmental management, sustainability, public health, safety and health, or training, specific talent was found when the opportunity came. We also found qualified individuals through the client recommendations and staffing agencies.

Q: Why has EnDyna been so successful? What distinguishes your approach, specifically to your environmental management and training services?

A: EnDyna’s success can be attributed to following factors:

  • The principals in EnDyna came from large consulting firms and brought the connections to easily find teaming partners and opportunities to grow.
  • Experienced managers, high quality staff with experience in specific areas of their work and a good team work culture promoted the growth of EnDyna.
  • Getting the management systems, such as accounting like Deltek, also made us get out of day-to-day and provide a professionally-run organization.
  • Finally, hard work pays off and sticking to it for several years did help. I believe our high-quality performance helped it too!

Q: How important is innovation to your business? Why or why not?

A: Innovation is always looked upon as a positive step if it is instrumental in successfully completing some task or fixing any existing problem to enable executing the work in less time and with less cost. We are constantly innovating internally for our business processes and externally help the client organizations innovate solutions to enable, for example, running the National Training Center of Department of Transportation with less. We have also assisted in technology innovation for cleanup of hazardous and radioactive waste to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.

Q: What advice do you have for small businesses who are considering bidding for government business?

A: I certainly would encourage everyone who is considering doing so to weigh both positive and negative. The positive is that there has been no better time for being a small business as the government has made the commitment to increase the share of contracts going to small business. However, if you don’t have experience with government agencies, you have to partner with someone who has because the competition is getting tougher. So, a few things are important:

  • Get partners or principals in your business with experience in the government space. Do not depend on business development consultants to help you get contracts.
  • Be prepared to stay in this business for a long haul — it is not for short term stints. The sales cycles are very long (about two years) before you see results.
  • Start small in a niche area and quickly figure out how to differentiate yourself from others.
  • Do high quality work as past performance in this business is very important and one cannot bid government contracts without good past performance.

Ultimately, no pain, no gain!

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