Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jayme Sokolow, President of The Development Source, located in Silver Spring, MD, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

The Development Source helps businesses and non-profit organizations develop proposals to government agencies that lead to contracts and grants. Our customers are businesses of all sizes around the country (small, medium, large, and non-profit organizations such as hospitals, medical centers, research organizations, and social and educational organizations. They have one thing in common – they want to increase their business or support their programs by winning government contracts and grants. Federal and state governments do not always have the resources to achieve their missions and objectives. I help organizations form partnerships with government agencies, especially the Federal government, that are advantageous to them both.

Tell us about yourself

When I was a teacher, I won some small grants, but I did not really understand how many contract and grant opportunities were available from government agencies or how to get them. In 1984, I became a Program Officer in a Federal grant-making agency, and that became my apprenticeship in proposal development. After leaving the government, I bounced around the private and non-profit sectors for a few years and then decided to start a proposal development services company that lasted 30 years. Being in business has been surprisingly stimulating and rewarding. Besides making a good living, I like the challenge of developing winning proposals and the challenge of working with varied organizations and with people of different ages, backgrounds, and abilities.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I would have to say that my biggest accomplishment has been to help businesses and non-profits win billions of dollars in government contracts and grants while being a small company that takes on a variety of government bids every day.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

One of the hardest parts of being a business owner is maintaining the motivation and the mental, emotional, and physical endurance to provide consistent, helpful services to your clients all the time.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Always be an eager student in your business field by reading, taking classes, participating in professional and trade organizations, networking, and learning from your clients and competitors.
  2. Work hard, be patient, and accept the fact that you will not always succeed or please all your clients.
  3. Devote yourself to growing your business, but not at the expense of your family, friends, and outside interests. Maintain your physical and mental health and spend plenty of time outdoors.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Being a business owner can be a very adventurous challenge! Almost everyone should try it at least once in their lifetime.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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