11,000-member company in more than 50 locations and 16 foreign countries, has become the fastest growing organization responsible for information technology and other services for federal agencies across the U.S., with clients ranging from NASA and The Department of Justice to every branch of the Armed Forces and the Department of Defense.
Like Gooden, Thomas noticed a change in the market during her position as editorial director at Kensington Publishing in 2000–interest in African American books was growing. Although Kensington already published an assortment of black titles, Thomas knew that the company could not accommodate the surging amount of African American authors seeking publishers nor would they be able to provide the adequate marketing resources that the books deserved. “I wanted to develop a way to focus those titles toward the community and also to focus some of the publicity and attention those titles should receive. I didn’t want those titles to get lost in the huge list of [Kensington] titles,” explains Thomas.
She suggested that the publishing house spin off an imprint that would focus 100% of its attention on developing and marketing black titles, even republishing classic titles that are no longer in print. The imprint became Dafina Books, which Thomas oversees. It is
a line of original trade hardcover and paperback, fiction and nonfiction books aimed at the African American, book-buying community.
Today, titles include God Don’t Like Ugly by Mary Monroe and Mary B. Morrison’s Somebody’s Gotta Be on Top. Dafina’s gross revenue has more than doubled over five years, from $5 million to more than $12 million. “I believe that is only the tip of the iceberg,” says Thomas.
SUCCEEDING IN THE FACE OF OBSTACLES AND OPPOSITION
Not every idea is well received or easily executed. However, the most successful entrepreneurs remain steadfast in their goals and flexible in their approach. Problems can arise during any phase of the process. The person leading the project has to not only effectively manage, but encourage the team as well. Taylor experienced obstacles at several junctures before realizing the success of his strategic platform.
Unlike Gooden and Thomas, Taylor’s incentive to develop a new service was not in anticipation of changes in the market–it was in reaction to one. Three years ago, a competing company aggressively and swiftly cut into the software giant’s market share. Microsoft found itself in a sparring match with a competing operating system, Linux, which was free of cost. Linux was highly attractive for companies and government agencies faced with tight budgets and Microsoft’s comparatively steep prices. Net income for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft dropped from $7.3 billion in 2001 to $5.4 billion in 2002. And by the start of 2003, company executives were forced to hammer out a viable defense strategy.
“This was one of the biggest challenges that Microsoft has ever faced,” explains Martin, then-director of business, working directly for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. In his 10 years at the company, Taylor had moved up the ranks and was responsible for all sales, marketing, consulting, business development, and operations for