Embracing a Positive Perspective
Jimmy Buffett coined the term “See the good side.” He proved masterful at not becoming embroiled in political turmoil, and the perspective he gained through his years on earth was revealed in a gentle public persona. To be sure, he did overcome occasional legal encounters that might challenge any businessperson—perhaps his sailor’s gaze on the horizon allowed for the long view that served him so well.
During the recent Republican presidential debate, a term was used by one candidate to disparage another, “defense contractor.” When I heard it, the phrase struck me as somewhere between odd and ill-informed. A brief visit to the Google machine can fuel most lines of attack but often fails to provide context. The candidate’s relationship with a quite small defense start-up was difficult to confirm mainly because the company has not yet reached sustainability in contracting. Rather, that company is in the center of the Valley of Death that readers here are all familiar with. Initial funding is flowing, but their connection to the budget is tenuous. In short, it doesn’t yet look great on paper.
Insights from a Rapidly Rising Start-up CEO
A few weeks ago, while participating in the Axios AI+ pre-breakfast with the editorial board, I sat next to a candid CEO of a 3-year-old start-up company that quickly rose to reach revenues of $100 million per year. Now, that’s a fast climb, but not unheard of. In fact, it happens more frequently than most of us realize. This CEO’s candor shone through when he said, “Hey, in those earliest days, I wouldn’t have paid the $50,000 it might cost to gain CMMC compliance. I was bootstrapping, and that degree of regulation was an expense I couldn’t afford. Today, I know better, but I didn’t at the start.”
I can attest from my academic research and personal observation that tens of thousands of companies face the challenges of a defense start-up annually. Those challenges are daunting. It’s common for defense entrepreneurs to mortgage their house to seed the earliest effort. I would call that a demonstration of real commitment.
My children all know the story of the pig being committed to breakfast while the hen is just involved. I learned it from a favorite Captain of mine. At some point, we must know the difference between being committed versus being involved or yapping at the officials from the sidelines.
Supporting Small Businesses on the GovCon Channel
At least weekly, small companies approach me looking for support with their federal sales challenges. Many are not ready for me. Their sales aren’t yet sustainable, the technology isn’t mature enough to bring forward, or they don’t have the cash flow to support the required retainer. I choose to see their good side and offer some options:
- Capitol Currency® is a way to learn the process independently, following my video guidance supplemented with written course materials and homework.
- Meet with me in person in exchange for an appropriate but less costly fee to compensate me for my time and vast expertise I willingly share with them.
- A short-term (90-day) quick start where I help get them headed fair in the GovCon channel.
Why anyone would disparage a leader of a defense start-up is beyond me. We live in a great country. Our nation needs goods and services that are regularly refreshed if we are to maintain our warfighting currency and edge. Those goods and services only advance when innovative companies formulate and come forward.
I’m fortunate to have visited over 60 countries throughout the world. While that is far from all of them, it’s far more than most can claim. I assess there is no better place to live, work, and create. My wish is that more could see outside their own immediate lives to gain clarity on how the world works and how the world is.
I’m proud to associate with any who seek to serve the higher purpose of supporting our national defense.
If you are one of the many small business leaders reading my weekly newsletter, the time to solidify your 2024 plan was last year. Don’t repeat the same mistake as the 2025 plan is publicly revealed this spring.
For a copy of my book, Pitching the Big Top: How to Master the 3-Ring® Circus of Federal Sales, and more information on federal sales, visit Capitol Integration.