Niceville native Paul Sjoberg got his first taste of entrepreneurship in the ice cream business.
His best friend’s dad opened the Niceville Baskin Robbins when he was 15. In between scoops, he absorbed the very basics of what he later learned was entrepreneurship. His work in a health food store shortly after shored up his desire to own his own business one day – and that starting your own thing isn’t for the faint of heart.
[My early experiences] showed me what level of work was necessary to start your own business,” Sjoberg remembered. “In hindsight, my experiences in Niceville were foundational to becoming an entrepreneur.
After college at the University of Florida and more than a decade at Lockheed Martin, Sjoberg founded his IT company Leverage Information Technology (LIT). 25 years after he had his first taste of entrepreneurship by scooping mint chocolate chips into sugar cones, Sjoberg realized his dream – his company programs computer chips for the federal government. That business boomed and earned LIT a spot on the Inc. Magazine 5,000 list.
The list highlights the 5,000 companies in America and bills itself as “an exclusive guide to America’s top private companies.” While the official list, with the official ranking, isn’t out yet – Sjoberg says he’s excited to get included.
He says the path he found to entrepreneurship – through the corporate world for experience first – helped him develop the traits he needed in order to become a successful entrepreneur today. “That allowed me to dig in deep to my craft, and understand how the whole system works, and how the ecosystem works in defense contracting,” Sjoberg said, “I would say before jumping up and doing something entrepreneurial, sometimes its actually best to be in a larger organization, find out how the whole industry works, and become an expert in that industry. So, when you jump off and do your thing, it’s far less risky.”
In addition to Leverage IT, Paul also owns True North Realty, and Lease Examiner, LLC.