Hear My Story: From the Military to the Government Contracting Sector

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Allow me to share my story with you. As a soldier, a wife, a mother, and a small business owner focused on the government contracting sector, I’ve learned a few things I’d love to share with you.

Dear Readers,

It’s been a while since I first introduced myself, and a lot has changed! So it’s with great pleasure that I revisit my autobiography to share with you the latest chapter of my journey as a small business owner. For those who have been following along, thank you! I extend my heartfelt gratitude for your ongoing support and interest. Now, for those who are just joining me, welcome aboard! Allow me to reintroduce myself.

2024 Update: Reflecting on My Military Journey

When I first penned my autobiography, I shared with you my transition from being a dedicated housewife to embracing a career in the United States Army Reserve. Reflecting on those early days, I realize how much I’ve grown and evolved since then. I have proudly given over 22 years of service to my country, navigating deployments, temporary duties, and various roles within the military.

2016 was the year that everything changed. It was a year of total transformation.

In 2002, I made the arduous yet rewarding shift from life as a housewife for 7 years to a new routine as a full-time soldier. My husband always wanted to serve in the United States Army. However, due to circumstances beyond his control, he was not able to join. So, our family did the next best thing, and I joined the Army. Who could’ve imagined I would have joined? It was certainly not on my bingo card! At first, I joined to support my husband’s aspirations and because I saw the military as an opportunity to create a sense of security and consistency for my family, but it grew to be so much more than that. I am still serving in the Army today!

What was once an unexpected opportunity has now become a career and one of my greatest accomplishments.

As a contract specialist for the United States Army Reserve in a Contracting Battalion, I have gained a wealth of knowledge about contract negotiation as well as drafting and reviewing contract terms. Each assignment I have received allows me to grow and learn as a small business owner and evolve my understanding of government contracting. 

Over the past 22 years, I have served the military proudly and navigated training, multiple deployments, and temporary duty. My career in the Armed Forces has taught me how to be flexible and adaptable. My military service has deeply impacted me personally and professionally, as has my experience as a wife and a mother.

Here is a just a little more about me.

When you have been married for over 22 years, you learn that compromise is one of the keys to a happy marriage. Marriage can be very tough. Like government contracting, marriage requires clear communication, collaboration, and honest reflection. I still find it hard to believe that I have been married for over two decades, but I feel incredibly blessed that I have been. 

We have three wonderful children who we love with all our hearts. My husband has been remarkably supportive. He is our children’s primary caretaker. When I was deployed or away on yet another military mission, he was right there to keep things running smoothly at home. I’ll be the first to admit that no marriage is immune to the challenges of dealing with multiple deployments that leave one partner to do all the work while the other partner is gone.

My husband has supported and pushed me throughout my entire career. When I thought I just wasn’t going to make it in the military, he was right by my side. I know if he had been able to join the military, he would have made a great soldier. We’ve dealt with the ups and downs of marriage, and sometimes the struggle was real! 

But the blessings are real too, and among those blessings are our three beautiful children.

A Mother, My Tribe (Family)

Family: My Ever-Present Tribe:

As a devoted wife and mother, my family has been my anchor through the highs and lows of military life. I previously shared snippets of my daughters’ aspirations to serve their country, with one pursuing a career in the Air Force and the other in the Navy. Now, I’m thrilled to announce that I have new additions to the family. Two handsome grandsons and another grandbaby on the way.

As for my “Marine,” my son, he continues to make me proud with his determination and independence. Despite his initial struggles, he has found his path.

My oldest daughter, whom I lovingly refer to as my “big girl,” because she’s always been independent and always wanted to do things her way. She was the kind of baby that did not want to be held; she would babble sternly as if to say, put me down at 9 months old. My eldest did not want baby food. She wanted to eat the food the adults were eating, and she’d take every opportunity to get into mischief when our backs were turned!

As she got older, she retained her fierce independence and zest for life and added a desire to help the less fortunate. She volunteered for the Key Club and several other organizations to help whoever she could.

When she realized she wanted her own money, she got a part-time job. Always a high achiever, she also went to college while she was still in high school. I’m so impressed by her drive. She has always just had a desire to excel, so it did not surprise me when she decided she wanted to go into the Air Force.

She applied to the U.S. Air Force Academy, where she was accepted and has since graduated. It was not easy, but she rose to the challenge.

My middle daughter, whom I nicknamed “brown sugar”. She’s an affectionate and sensitive person. As a child, she never wanted me to put her down, and even when I eventually did, she needed to be near me to be okay. I would put her on the bed or in her bouncer; as long as she could see me, she was fine.

This was my little troublemaker. They say the middle child has the most challenges because they have trouble figuring out their place in the family, and while she did give us a run for our money, she was also full of delightful surprises, like sitting me down one day and letting me know that she wanted to join the military too!

She decided she wanted to do something different and went into the Navy.

Last but not least is my handsome baby boy. My little Marine (who would have a fit if he knew I was saying that!). My little baby boy was every bit the stereotype of the youngest child, and his tears led me to fall in love with holistic remedies. He cried all the time due to this eczema. He would scratch his little face until he bled. I took him to the doctor often to help him, but relief was short-lived. As a mother, it was my job to find him relief.

I ran across a book of herbal remedies that gave me great recommendations, and his eczema had disappeared, and so did his crying. He introduced me to the world of holistic remedies, a discovery that has helped our whole family over the years.

As he got older, his commitment to maintaining a routine became even more pronounced. He would wake himself up early every morning and get ready for school. The girls were another story; it was always a challenge getting those two out of the house!

He really enjoyed being in the band, and I was fully prepared for him to be a musician, but he shocked me when he announced that he was joining the Marines, where he now serves honorably.

Fulfilling My Dream as a Small Business Owner:

Today, as my military journey nears its conclusion after over 22 years, I am excited to embark on a new chapter as a small business owner. With careful planning and determination, I have laid the groundwork for KeyToLife Professional Services LLC, a consulting company aimed at empowering fellow small business subcontractors looking to get started and excel in government contracting.

New Chapter: Strategic Partnerships:

I am excited to announce strategic partnerships with leading organizations in the industry. These partnerships will enhance our capabilities, expand our network, and create new opportunities for growth and collaboration.

RSM Federal: Our partnership with RSM Federal brings invaluable expertise in government contracting and business development. Together, we are committed to providing comprehensive solutions and support to small businesses navigating the federal marketplace. To learn more about click here

Jade Solutions: Collaborating with Jade Solutions allows us to leverage their extensive experience in proposal writing. Through this partnership, we aim to enhance our clients’ proposals. To learn more about the services click here

Apex Accelerator: Partnering with Apex Accelerator enables us to train our small business community. To learn more about joining the training click here

These strategic partnerships represent an exciting step forward in our journey toward excellence and success. I look forward to the opportunities and possibilities that lie ahead as we continue to build and strengthen our network of collaborators and allies.

Co-author Collaborations 

I’m thrilled to announce that I will be embarking on a co-author collaboration for not just one, but two incredible books! One of the co-author projects I’m working on, “Thriving in Partnership,” explores the concept of subcontracting as a stepping stone for small business owners to grow and thrive. The other project delves into essential habits and strategies for success in the early stages of entrepreneurship. This collaboration promises to bring together diverse perspectives, rich insights, and compelling narratives that will captivate and inspire small businesses.

Looking Ahead

As I delve deeper into the world of entrepreneurship, I am committed to sharing my experiences, insights, and lessons learned along the way. In the coming posts, I’ll be delving into topics such as navigating the certification process for government contracts, seizing subcontracting opportunities, and mastering the art of marketing in the B2G landscape.

I’m grateful to be revisiting my passion for entrepreneurship and helping small business owners. My first business venture in 2016 taught me valuable lessons that, paired with my military career, have fortified my vision and honed my skills, helping me to deliver exceptional service.

I’ve saved up a nice cushion and have moved from active duty to the reserves. It’s time for me to scale my business and leave a legacy for my children. I aim to build a successful, profitable small business by laying a foundation for others to follow. I know how difficult it can be to start a business– the long days and sleepless nights. However, I won’t give up. I may need to change directions, and that’s okay. I’ll keep moving forward.

Let’s Connect:

I invite you to join me on this journey of growth, discovery, and success. Over the past seven years, my focus has been on training small businesses on how to engage in business with local, state, and federal agencies in the government contracting sector. My experience thus far has solidified my passion for entrepreneurship and my belief in its potential to make a meaningful impact. Whether you’re a seasoned small business owner or just starting out, there’s something here for everyone. Feel free to reach out with your thoughts, questions, or suggestions—I value each and every one of your contributions.

Thanks for spending a bit of time getting to know me. I’d love to learn more about you, so feel free to share a fun fact about yourself and a bit about your business in the comments. I’ll go first. I enjoy reading interesting business books and salsa dancing. If you would like more information about who I am and a few helpful tips for the government contracting sector, please check out my LinkedIn. I look forward to connecting.

Stay Tuned:

Keep an eye out for my next post, where I’ll be diving into “What to Expect When You Hire KTL Consulting Company. The nitty-gritty of how we work with our clients from start to finish. From the initial hurdles to the triumphant milestones, I’ll be sharing it all with you.

Thank you for being a part of my story.

To Your Success!

Akiesha

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