Ravi Bahethi is a systems engineer expert and president of Terranet, Inc. Since 1991, Maryland-based company Terranet has been providing scientific and technical support services for government and industry clients.
Tell us about yourself?
I consider myself a regular guy, but I pride myself on my perseverance. I place a heavy emphasis on relationships; I value friendship and comradery over individual success and have a close relationship with my extended family.
When I was younger, I was fortunate to attend a good school and make many lifelong friends. I studied physics and enjoyed participating in sports. My academic experience taught me that I can expand my knowledge, improve my ability to learn, and excel with the help of friends and colleagues.
What makes you different from other professionals in your field?
I have a knack for working with others and managing teams. When facing a complicated task, I instinctively look to my team for the appropriate assistance. I believe that my ability to determine the appropriate groupings of talented people for a given task is key in my line of work.
How much potential market share can you achieve in the next 3 years?
We are currently in the governmental support services business, which is huge. The federal government alone requires well over a trillion dollars of support services. We mainly market our services to companies which have multi-billion dollar budgets. Our plan in the next three years is to double our revenue and double our current market share.
What was the most important part of your professional journey?
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned throughout my career is how to work with people. People come in all different shapes, sizes, skill sets, talents, and temperaments. It takes time to learn individuals’ behaviors, personalities, and capabilities. In order to form positive working relationships, I must engage personally with colleagues and employees.
What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
The best purchase I’ve made is by far my education. My college education gave me many of the tools I need to be successful and prepared me for my career. However, I’ve recognized that my education has occasionally made me too prideful; I’ve caught myself being dismissive and monopolistic in conversation and am continuously working to correct this.
What takes up too much of your time?
Juggling the needs of employees, clients, and others can be exhausting, but I’ve learned that to have a fulfilling life, people must be a part of it. Throughout my career, I’ve learned to delegate and can accomplish more by relying on my colleagues. It took time to realize that relying on others can relieve pressure and make the workplace more efficient.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students/new startup business?
First, I would advise them to finish college and get a degree. Even if you believe you have a great business idea, almost any idea can wait a few years. Instead of abandoning your education in pursuit of a career, incorporate your desired career into your major and educational track.
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Second, when they do start their business, I would advise them to devote all their effort to the endeavor. No business can succeed with part time effort, but luckily, many young people have more free time to focus on bringing their idea to life.
Third, I would warn them about the loneliness and financial stress that sadly can be part of building a business. When you start a company, you are the final responsible party. A business owner or startup CEO must be capable of doing everything needed to run a business, including reading and signing contracts, hiring and firing employees, ordering supplies, marketing, and selling their product. All of these things are time consuming and can prevent a young entrepreneur from taking extended holidays or participating in time-consuming hobbies. They may also experience financial stress; however, this will hopefully change with a successful business. Perseverance is the key to building a business from the ground up.
Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
An acquaintance, who worked in the same field for fifteen years, purchased another company and decided to run it himself. He planned to cater science support services to agencies that he once supported as an employee. He was excited and positive about what he was doing and didn’t let criticism from others deter him. He was successful very quickly, and within ten years, he sold the company for a significant profit.
Although this may sound like the story of someone who was in the right place at the right time, that’s not the case. This person was always a hard worker and is a talented marketer. He was ambitious but felt stifled by his supervisors and managers. He understood the risk of his decision, but decided that the opportunities were too great to turn down. Even though he had an adequate job and was financially stable, he decided to jump into the unknown.
What drives you to keep going when it’s really tough?
My work and the relationships I’ve built professionally motivate me. I have employees (and their families) who count on me for work, and I have customers who rely on me to provide a requested service. I want to be known as a can-do person and a problem-solver who doesn’t give up on others.
How should people connect with you?
Many of my connections are made professionally, so people can reach out to me through my work.