Nicole Sharp: Winning Contracts Amidst Self-Doubt
After quitting her job, Nicole Sharp spent six months away from friends and family to focus on learning everything about the business world. She now shares what she learned along her journey to success.
Nicole started her career working in the film and entertainment industry, as she majored in broadcast journalism. However, it wasn’t the typical job you’d expect from someone in that field. Instead, she was a production assistant but was working more on the contracting aspect.
She ended up getting another opportunity to work as a staffing consultant, and it seemed like she was coincidentally always pulled to work in consulting.
Before starting her own business, she worked for three large defense contractors: Accenture, Booze Allen Hamilton, and Kelly Services.
“When I moved to the Washington DC area, I worked for a large government consulting firm and started there, and working in various agencies, and I just really loved it.”
She then founded her company Griffin Consulting Partners, in 2017. They offer solutions in the fed health space. Her current clients include VA, military health services throughout DOD, state, and local hospitals.
DECIDING TO HAVE THE BUSINESS
Nicole decided to quit her job and start her own business on the day her niece was being born, and she felt, as any business owner would when first starting, doubtful about her decision.
Because of her doubts, she kept looking for signs everywhere. However, what really prompted her to start her own business was that almost everyone she encountered, even acquaintances, suggested that she should start a business, and so she did.
Things were moving so fast, and she needed to process immediately the change that was about to happen in her life.
After a five-minute panic, she went into work mode and started listing down what she needed to do. Finally, she had her 3, 5, 10-year business plan ready, and she learned strategies that could lead her to success. She was so focused on her goal that she didn’t see anyone for the first six months.
In those months, she did everything. She even did vision boards. Although making them didn’t mean that all of them were coming true, it gave her the confidence needed to move forward with her goals. Moreover, it reminded her that her dreams could materialize sometime in the future.
“I felt at peace that I was in the right direction of starting my own business, and I said, “You know what? I don’t know what I don’t know, but I’m going to find the answers.”
Her first year, however, was not an easy road. First, she had to get a professional business loan, and it was from someone who believed in her.
She never thought in a million years that there would be people who believed in her enough to the point of letting her loan money, and that made Nicole want to help others more. So she tried to pay it forward.
GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING JOURNEY
Nicole wanted to do government contracting because she knew that she was great at understanding and reading contracts.
When she decided on starting her business, she gave her all, which led to her not seeing family and friends for a long time.
Unfortunately, in her pursuit of success, she lost some friends along the way, but that’s just how life is. Sometimes, we have to make sacrifices for goals that we want to achieve.
“Once the contract started, it was go-time. The earlier time, it was playtime. It was manifesting or writing out what the business would look like because I didn’t have days to focus on the business. I had to work on getting the contract, keeping the contract, and sustaining the customer relationship, and doing the work and finding new contracts”.
For most people, the journey to government contracting seemed hard at first but then when they get their first win, they’d realize it wasn’t that bad, but that wasn’t the case for Nicole.
“I even questioned myself, even more, when I got my first contract. I think I was a little different. I was like, “am I supposed to be here?” I started saying, “yes, I did the work. No one gave it to me but did I deserve to be in here with all of these giants?”
There is no doubt that government contracting is complex, but Nicole admits that the most challenging part of the job was dealing with herself.
The hardest part was convincing herself that she was capable. She constantly felt like she didn’t have it in her to be a success in this industry.
But even after all that, she pushed through. She went to various agencies and followed the model that Eric taught. Her dedication was evident, as she’s had almost 13 that she’s helped team and more other contracts that she’s working on.
ADVICE FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS
1. Believe in yourself.
“I said, “I’m gonna give myself an hour because I don’t think I’m gonna make it.” I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, you know? and then I’d have to go back and say, “No, do the work, Nicole, like you can do this.”
There will be days, especially in the beginning, where you’d question yourself a lot because of all the uncertainties that come with starting a business.
Trying to make your way in the industry is tough, but it’s even more challenging when you’re pulling yourself back. So, believe that you can.
2. Write your plans.
Starting a business involves a lot of planning. It involves you preparing yourself and your company for the opportunities that may come in the future. So write and plan everything out.
“Start growing your business, and even if you don’t have work, start working on writing out what you will do when you do have the resources, or you are available, so it’s already planned out.”
3. Learn everything about the industry.
The most important thing about doing business with a customer is getting what they want. So, for you to be able to do that successfully, you must learn everything. Be a sponge.
“Where I felt like there was a gap taking classes or finding someone to help me get to the next level, and you know GovCon Giants has been amazing with that.”
4. Put into practice what you’ve learned.
“When it came down to what the customer wanted, we needed to follow what the customer wanted”
Learning all of the things you need to be successful is useless if you don’t apply them to real-life situations. So, use those principles and figure out the best way to achieve your goals.
5. Look at how far you’ve come.
“Once you get the contract, please note, the work does not stop. It just starts.”
When the work starts, it’s a different ball game. You’re dealing with more pressure because of the added responsibility, and so, oftentimes, people forget their purpose.
We forget how far we’ve come and how much we’ve improved. So, whenever you get discouraged, start writing a list of things that you have accomplished, and it will give you a sense of relief.
If you want to hear more about Nicole Sharp’s experiences and what she learned in her journey, then be sure to click the resources below. You can also visit the GovCon Giant website or the new GovCon Edu, where you know everything about government contracting!
Six months of sacrifice for a lifetime of knowledge, winning my first contract: