I started Strategy and Management Services (SAMS) in 2008 partly out of frustration. I was working in the federal government and was seeing critical military projects get passed up for the appropriate funding—but I took that frustration and created something positive. I saw this as the chance to not only create a business that would provide cost effective federal services, but also as an opportunity to provide jobs—and starting SAMS has allowed me to give back to the community by doing so. I’m proud to say SAMS now employs over 115 great team members; 37 percent of them are women, 60 percent are minorities and 75 percent are veterans and veteran family members.
Starting a new business comes with many challenges. When I first started SAMS, I spent a year meeting entrepreneurs, contacting officers and successful business leaders to seek their advice and learn from their experiences. I learned valuable business lessons and greatly expanded my professional network. Building those relationships proved critical to the success of SAMS. The federal government environment is built on meaningful relationships; any opportunity you have to connect with someone who has years of experience should not be bypassed – they may provide invaluable insight into your business and industry.
One of the greatest challenges I faced was gaining confidence from both my clients and the community. It’s difficult for a young business to demonstrate how it can bring value to its clients’ lives when they have no past performance to rely on. When faced with this particular challenge, I focused on hiring a great team of professionals who worked hard to exceed our clients’ expectations. Our commitment to providing excellent service has helped us gain the trust of our clients and peers.
Personally, I’ve dealt with many obstacles, both as a minority woman and business owner. I’ve led a non-traditional life in many ways – from being a minority woman in the United States Army to being a successful woman in the male dominated field of information technology. I credit my time in the military for helping me develop important skills like leadership, determination and decision-making. These are all skills that will help you become a successful business owner, despite any hurdles you face as a minority, as a woman or both.
Starting a new business is not easy. There will be days when you want to give up – but it’s at those times you must remain patient and dedicated. When you feel like you want to quit, surround yourself with a strong team and positive mentors. The idea of starting your company may seem daunting, but if you remain persistent, dedicated, show tenacity and stay patient, you will succeed.
Staci Redmon is the president and CEO of Strategy and Management Services, a facilities management and business operations provider, based in Washington, D.C.