James Lee: How an Active Soldier Turned an Idea into an Opportunity!
Be inspired how James Lee turned his daughter’s idea into a laundromat business that won two government contracts while being in the military!
James Lee is an IT professional with 16 years of military service who decided to make a mark in this world by being an entrepreneur.
Currently, he is pursuing laundry service contracts through his company Home Away From Home Laundry-Services, a full-service linen supply and dry-cleaning company with multiple employees at various locations.
They offer different services to their federal, state, and local customers, including dry cleaning, laundry, wash, dry and folding, alteration, and pick up and drop off delivery services.
TURNING AN IDEA INTO AN OPPORTUNITY
The idea of building a laundromat business didn’t come from James Lee himself but from his daughter’s drawing that looks like a laundromat. That then motivated him to build a business in that industry.
“Sometimes the best ideas come from the littlest people.”
Although he was psyching himself out at first, after listening to a business mentor and to a friend who has his own IT business, he then took action and started researching the govcon market.
“Like I said, my business mentor, Jesus, he would have like little Facebook lives and I would always listen to him… so when he said that the only person stopping you is you… that fire just lit in me.”
This was when he stumbled across Eric’s YouTube videos and started learning more about govcon. He thought he could do it and he did— he filed for his FEIN number, started his SAM registration, and started looking for opportunities at FBO.
WINNING HIS FIRST CONTRACT
The first contract that James Lee won came from a sources sought notice.
At first, he thought of not pursuing it because some of the cleaners down in Florida said that the contract was already promised to them.
However, he still responded to the notice and after a back and forth email from the federal buyer asking for verification documents, he was awarded a contract.
“So, everything happens for a reason. And it’s just me staying true to my faith and the Lord kept me pushing through. And not only that, if I’m trying to teach my kids never to quit at anything, I’ve been certain a bad example of being a hypocrite. And so, that was one of my reasons for pushing.”
Still, after that, he needed to perform the job. But the job was in Florida and he’s in Hawaii, so the federal buyer asked him if he had people in Florida or else he would lose the contract.
Luckily, he was able to put them at ease because he had a friend who’s in the state who he then hired as a project manager.
Even with that, he flew from Hawaii to Florida to actually present his company. He was even creating business cards while on flight and printed it as soon as he got on the ground, just to show how dedicated he is.
“It was a blessing for me to even get the contract, but then it was even a bigger blessing for me to have somebody so close, especially when I was… gonna lose the contract.”
After that, he then performed the contract with the help of his project manager and even extended it for a year and a half. He was also able to get a second bigger contract.
Currently, he plans to continue getting contracts and also starting a new niche for his business.
ADVICE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
1. Don’t kill your own dream.
James Lee wants to show to his kids that if you want to achieve something, you need to always keep doing what you’re doing.
This is why, even though he’s still working a full-time job in the military, he still pursued building his laundromat business.
“If you have a plan, just continue to keep pushing forward… Don’t let your dream be like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna keep putting it off…” because you do that too many times, you’re never gonna do it.”
2. Take advantage of sources sought notices.
Sources sought notices and requests for information might not end up with a contract award, but responding to these market research is still beneficial to your company.
This is due to the fact that this shows how dedicated you are in marketing your business and letting your federal buyer know who you are and what you do.
“Government’s not gonna come find you… you have to tell them this is who I am, this is what I could do, and this is how I can help you at the end of the day.”
3 Make time for what you want to do.
When James Lee started his business, he made time to do his research because he wanted to understand the marketplace first. He even made sure to present his business in a professional manner by flying from Hawaii to Florida.
This should be something that you should be doing if you want to succeed in doing government contracts. It’s not enough to just look the part, you should be the part. And with that, you need to do the necessary things needed to provide the best products and/or services.
“You’re gonna always make time for what’s good for you and when you make time for it, that shows that you’re committed to it.”
4. Always keep pushing.
Even after winning two contracts, James Lee still wants to pursue more contracts. He doesn’t want to stay stagnant and is even pursuing new opportunities in the I.T. industry.
“I always got to constantly keep moving… because I want to make sure that I’m showing my kids that no matter what they’re doing you always never give up on anything and always keep pushing.”
If you want to learn more how James Lee turned his daughter’s idea into a laundromat business that won government contracts while being in the military, then be sure to click the resources below.
You can also visit the GovCon Giant website or the new GovCon Edu where you learn everything about government contracting!
05: How an Active Soldier Turned an Idea into 2 Sources Sought – James Lee