DC consulting business opens locations in Central Florida
DAI Solutions of Sarasota County
Sheri Dougherty had worked as a federal contractor in the DC metro area for several years. After working for multiple companies the thought of opening her own firm crossed her mind.
“Being the person who actually found the deals, wrote the proposals, and won the deal, it was difficult to sit back and watch the deal crumble in the hands of colleagues,” Dougherty said. “So I said, ‘If I am doing this for someone else, I might as well do this for myself.’”
Dougherty started her federal contracting business 20 years ago in the DC metro area and a year ago she expanded to the Sarasota, Tampa, and Orlando areas. DAI Solutions offers businesses the ability to take their product or service to the federal government. They provide an array of services from marketing to General Service Administration (GSA) schedule proposal development to simply staying up on federal laws.
“It’s the continuous changes of the rules, regulations, and budgets that can lead to frustration,” Dougherty said. “You have a lot of issues that you need to know and there’s no school of federal contracting. I’ve been in it for 30 years so I have the experience and understanding of how everything works.”
Dougherty first reached out to America’s Small Business Development Center Network 20 years ago in Alexandria, Virginia. It was there where she received general start-up help including budgeting, invoicing, and incorporating.
Upon moving to Florida, Dougherty figured it would be a great idea to connect with the local ASBDC Network. She came to the Florida SBDC at the University of South Florida in November 2015 and started working with government contracting specialist and business consultant Karen Krymski.
Being in business for many years, Dougherty already knew how to start a new business but what she didn’t know was the brand new market, and that’s exactly why she turned to Krymski.
“She’s been instrumental in helping me figure out what to do and where the different organizations are that I should get involved with so we can grow our presence in Florida,” Dougherty said.
As per Krymski’s guidance, Dougherty is now a member of the Small Business Resource Network and just recently attended her first meeting. The SBRN and Krymski are helping to lay the foundation for meeting new clients, networking, and discovering what Florida has to offer.
With the start-up process underway in Florida, Dougherty remains active in her DC business. With recent success coming in the form of two large contract wins, she is excited to show Florida clients their own successes in dealing with the federal government.
“I think it gives us a lot of clout to say that we can help people and actually be able to show that we’ve done it ourselves,” Dougherty said.
She is looking forward to future collaboration with Krymski and the entire Florida SBDC at USF staff throughout the process of growing her new locations in Florida.
“The Florida SBDC at USF has been absolutely instrumental for me moving into this area and I’d tell any small business who needs information about a lot of different things to come here,” Dougherty said. “How to market, how to put your business together, how to chase the federal government, how to do the commercial work, whatever it is, this is a great place to start.”