Laurie Sayles: CEO of a Multi-Million Dollar Consulting Firm
A US Marine Corps veteran turned business owner, Laurie Sayles shares her success story in building a multi-million dollar consulting firm.
Laurie Sayles served for more than 10 years in the US Marine Corps as a Maintenance Management Chief in the Maintenance Battalions and then as a Platoon Sergeant.
Sayles then worked for different companies in both federal and commercial marketplace before building her own company, Civility Management Solutions (CMS), wherein they provide professional services on matters including grants management, professional development training, and logistics to name a few.
Sayles is also an advocate of women and military veteran entrepreneurs through her service in different organizations including being an executive committee member on VET-Force and a member of Women Impacting Public Policy.
With all of these experiences and service, Sayles was awarded as the 2019 Maryland Women Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year and CMS participated in the 8(a) accelerator program, Goldman Sachs 10,000.
TRANSITIONING FROM MILITARY SERVANT TO CIVILIAN
At the age of 21, Sayles joined the Marine Corps and became a Sergeant and a Non-Commissioned Officer. She completed her seven years of active duty and then became a reserve for the organization. However, she came out of the uniform and became a receptionist after over 10 years of service.
“I’m used to, you know, leading people, managing things, making stuff happen. But I didn’t want to go be a police officer. I wanted to come out of the uniform. I didn’t want to be a correctional officer. I wanted to come out of a uniform.”
On her first job as a civilian, she didn’t know she could negotiate her paycheck because that’s what she learned in the marines.
“You don’t negotiate anything in the United States Marine Corps. They tell you what you’re going to do when you go and do it and for how long. So, that was part of the intro into the civilian life. That was very challenging for me. Just totally unaware of how to operate on this side of the, of the industry of, of having a job.”
After being a receptionist, she then moved to being a secretary,
an executive assistant, an office operations director, a project manager, and a senior leadership development consultant in NASA. However, she transitioned into working for a business into creating her own business.
EXPERIENCE IN STARTING A BUSINESSES
After almost a year in NASA, Sayles made a decision to really just focus on creating and managing her own business because she doesn’t understand the mindset of having a nine to five job and just going home.
“A. I am a woman. B. I’m a minority. C. I was a veteran. And those are all added attributes to being in the small business arena, supporting the federal government because of the set-asides. And again, I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I’ve always had a hustle. I’ve always been busy doing something other than a nine to five job. I don’t know what that is. To have a nine to five job and just go home. I don’t even understand that mindset.”
So with this, she built Civility Management Solutions (CMS) and attended a lot of training for entrepreneurs organized by Procurement Technical Assistance Centers and the nonprofit organization aimed at small businesses, SCORE.
“I was participating in all these things to try to increase my learning into this space that I was in and I was going to outreach sessions. And so it was very active during this time.”
However, as with starting a new business, she was not making money so she started attaching her business to entities like TaskRabbit to do different kinds of assignments. That gave momentum to her business and allowed her to drop revenues to her business checking accounts.
This then changed in 2014 when she was introduced to simplified acquisitions where most of the works offer quick turnarounds.
“I used to work out a lot. So of course being connected gyms was easy for me. I knew how to talk to those people. Then I also utilized the option of having a company that proclaimed that they were going to be my mentor and brought on an 8A opportunity to them and then they subbed some contracts and work to Civility Management Solutions. And that allowed me to also pick up a little bit more momentum.”
This first contract then opened more experience and learning that she can establish relationships as a service-disabled veteran and talk about her values to Fortune 500 companies while getting paid to do some federal and commercial works.
Still, with all of these experiences, Sayles encourages business owners to always value their relationship with their clients and other people as this is a necessary way to survive and succeed.
“Risk is not the biggest risk in starting a business. The biggest risk for all people, business owners or not, are our relationships. Because I’ve now lived long enough to know it has some interesting experiences to realize, you know, the relationships you have with people, they can be one way today and then they can be totally different tomorrow and managing that so that it doesn’t affect your life, especially, you know, negatively is hugely important because relationships are necessary to survive.”
If you want to watch the full video of the interview with Laurie Sayles as she shares her success story in building a multi-million dollar consulting firm, then be sure to click the links below:
042: Laurie Sayles – Chicago native, Marine & Woman Founds a Multi Million Dollar Professionals Consulting Firm