Leilani Lacusong: From Accountant to 8a Contractor
For over five years, Leilani Lacusong learned doing government contracts and now, she shares her story and what she learned from winning her first contract!
Leilani Lacusong has over 25 years of experience doing accounting in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry as a project and staff accountant all the way to becoming a Chief Financial Officer.
Currently, she is the Principal at Leis Consulting Group where she does government contracts for over five years while also providing accounting services, on the side.
Apart from that, Leilani is also working along with some of our GovCon Giants to gain contracts as a community.
STARTING IN THE FEDERAL MARKETPLACE
When she quit her former job, Leilani was faced with the fact that she had no clients and no job. However, she believed in herself and started researching.
She built Leis Consulting Group in 2015 and she went after 8a and other certifications.
She called people for three months regarding these small business certifications and instead of paying someone to fill the 8a application, she did it herself.
Although, she was informed that she can’t be an 8a, she continued to pursue this certification until she became 8a certified in 2016.
However, reality hits her. Becoming part of the 8a program doesn’t mean having those VIP tickets that will provide you contracts.
So, she reverted back to doing accounting while researching more and navigating different govcon databases.
That’s when she learned about homeless veterans, traditional homes for the probationers, and other opportunities that she already had previous experiences with.
GETTING HER FIRST CONTRACT
Leilani then got her first contract on September 23, 2017 where she did a carpet cleaning project in Abilene, Texas for three years.
“I thought I won a million dollars, but it’s only 65,000 for five years, so I didn’t really look at it that way. I think it just affects the high of winning a contract. It didn’t matter if it was like twenty thousand, thirty thousand—”
Although this contract gave her a lot of challenges, it also strengthened the way she viewed government contracts.
Primarily, the people that she hired to do the project didn’t show up, so she just did the job herself. Fortunately, a pastor assisted her in accomplishing the job for three years.
Apart from that, the contract itself is $65,000 for three years which is a very small contract considering its time period.
However, she still performed the project and viewed it as a very humbling experience.
“It’s like, ‘Wow, the government really trusted me, so, I have to perform, you know, like they trusted me and my company.’ So, you know what? I have to deliver what I need to deliver and maybe do more.”
SACRIFICES AND DRIVE
Between 2017 to 2019, Leilani continues to bid with no hits. This then affects her tremendously.
She began sabotaging her relationships and there comes a point where she needs to do accounting on the side just to pay her bills.
However, she knew that these sacrifices were needed to achieve her goals, so she never gave up.
“I just did not give up, you know. I don’t know what kept me going. I think it’s because of that hunger… for trying to get the contracts. I’m like, ‘That’s all I want to do. I just want to work hard with contracts.’”
ADVICE FOR ASPIRING GOVCON GIANTS
1. Be patient.
Patience is very important when you’re doing every activity in order to win a contract. It will not happen as soon as you want it. You need to wait. You need to think. You need to continuously reinvent yourself.
“You have to be patient. It’s not going to come overnight.”
2. Be humble.
Stay grounded wherever part of your govcon journey you are because no matter how huge your contracts are, you have to go right back to where you started again after accomplishing that.
In fact, why not share what you learned? Besides, there are tons of contracts and money for all of us in this marketplace, we have enough projects to pass around.
“You have to share… I think humility and being humble, I think it’s the key to, you know, so people really want to work with you.”
3. Be consistent.
Success won’t happen when you don’t do your activities consistently. You need to have a system. You need to have structure. You need to know what you are doing.
“My advice to people is how to eat live and walk and really digest the government world because if you don’t, you’re going to get lost in the shuffle, you’re going to be frustrated, and you’re not going to know your next move. So, I said just be consistent.”
4. Be part of a community.
When you’re doing contracts alone, it will surely become lonely, but it will not be that lonely if you become part of a community who also have the same aspirations as yourself.
“One thing I really, really learned is you have to have a community. You have to have a village. It’s kind of like having kids, you have to have a support system because there are things that you’re missing out.”
If you want to learn more on the sacrifices and lessons Leilani Lacusong learned, 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!
02: Making a Giant with Maria and Leilani Lacusong. From Accountant to 8a Contractor