Angela Baroni Berzonsky may be carrying on the family business, but it didn’t start out that way. In fact, when asked if she ever wanted to enter the government contracting profession like her father, she replies, “No, absolutely not!”
“I grew up playing sports my entire life, all the way through college, so it was a natural progression to enter the sports entertainment industry after graduating,” says Berzonsky. “IT just didn’t seem as glamourous as the sports and entertainment world did to me at that time.” But Berzonsky knew she wanted to own her business one day. “I just didn’t know what … so when the opportunity presented itself to start a woman-owned IT consulting firm, I didn’t hesitate, I jumped.”
Today, Berzonsky is the founder and CEO of Avision Group, a woman-owned small business professional services firm based in Northern Virginia that focuses on delivering solutions to both the public and commercial markets. Recently, Berzonsky shared with WashingtonExec what makes Avision a family affair – and the best business advice that her father gave her.
WashingtonExec: Tell us what makes Avision a family affair.
Angela Baroni Berzonsky: Avision was founded by my husband and me. It was a natural fit for the two of us as we are able to leverage each other’s skill sets. I am by trade a sales and business development person, and he is more of the technical and engineering mind. So while I am on the campaign trail for Avision selling our capabilities, he is the one delivering on our promise.
WashingtonExec: What advice did your father give you when starting a business?
Angela Baroni Berzonsky: My father is my mentor, so when he gives advice or speaks for that matter, I listen! I think the one piece of advice that sticks out the most since he has offered it to me a couple of times is, “Don’t burn bridges.” Although this area is large in terms to geography, the network is very small; everyone is connected to each other in some way.
Avision was founded by my husband and me. It was a natural fit for the two of us as we are able to leverage each other’s skill sets. I am by trade a sales and business development person, and he is more of the technical and engineering mind. So while I am on the campaign trail for Avision selling our capabilities, he is the one delivering on our promise.
WashingtonExec: Avision’s one-year anniversary is coming up. What successes/top contracts have you won over the past year?
Angela Baroni Berzonsky: Although, we were formed in November 2014, technically we didn’t formally launch and open for business until February 2015, so we still have some time left within our first year. Additionally, we have a very aggressive growth strategy in place and are currently fostering the teaming partnerships that we need to help catapult Avision’s success. Stay tuned!
WashingtonExec: Where are you seeing the most promising growth in both the public sector and commercial markets – and how are you meeting them?
Angela Baroni Berzonsky: Obviously, commercial is a lot speedier than the public sector when conducting business. So our strategy is to go heavy on commercial business while we build our past performance so that we can compete in the public sector.
WashingtonExec: How are you balancing maintaining your current clients with the need to grow?
Angela Baroni Berzonsky: I think the key is building the right team, making sure I have the right people and support systems in place so that I can focus on the bigger picture, which is growing the company.
WashingtonExec: What advice would you offer others for starting a business with family?
Angela Baroni Berzonsky: Like in sports, as they say, leave it all on the field. Learn to separate the two. I think that is the key to success when conducting business with family.
WashingtonExec: What can we expect next from Avision?
Angela Baroni Berzonsky: We have a very aggressive growth strategy, so to capitalize on our success to date, we’ll need to continue to drive organic growth, while remaining lean and agile. Our plan is to build a major contender from scratch.
Lastly, much of what my father has instilled in me (in all of my siblings for that matter) is legacy. Or, as he calls it, “Invent the future, create a legacy in the life you lead and a sense of hope for future generations.” This is a huge driving force behind how I live and conduct business. My husband and I started this company not only to leave a footprint in the corporate world but to also empower and encourage our own children to go after their dreams – and never let fear of the unknown stand in their way.”