When it comes to growing a business to new heights, Molly Gimmel is an expert. As the co-founder and CEO of Design To Delivery Inc, she has successfully established herself as an expert in federal government contracting and acquisition management. She serves high-profile clients, including the Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Department of Interior, General Services Administration, Department of Transportation, Department of Energy, Department of Health & Human Services, National Institute of Standards & Technology and Peace Corps.
Molly is also passionate about supporting other women business owners so they can flourish and serves as the Chair-Elect on the National Board of Directors, and is a past president of the NAWBO-Greater DC Chapter. She was also honored as an Enterprising Woman of the Year in 2014 by Enterprising Women magazine and serves on the Enterprising Women Advisory Board.
This month, we sat down with Molly to get her insights on business growth, financial advice and the support that NAWBO provides. Read on for more!
What inspired you to become a business owner?
I was working in the federal practice of a large consulting firm, and wasn’t happy there. I really wanted to work for myself. One of my co-workers was equally unhappy and I knew we worked well together, so I asked her to leave with me to start our own company. She wasn’t sure, but a few weeks later she agreed. We both had been working in the government contracting industry for many years, so we started our company as a consulting firm to help small businesses navigate the government contracting process. Several years ago, we decided to pivot and start pursuing government contracts for ourselves. We discontinued the consulting practice in 2013 to focus solely on growing our own government business.
What is the greatest challenge in working with government contracts?
There is a very specific formal process that the government must go through to award contracts, and one challenge that a lot of companies face is not fully understanding that process. If you violate one of the many regulations around contracting with the federal government, you could get in big trouble, which could mean anything from not getting your contracts to being suspended from contracting entirely to going to jail.
What’s the best financial advice you’ve ever received as a business owner?
There are several valuable pieces of advice we’ve received over the years. One is to develop a strong relationship with your business banker. That way, if something happens, they know you and your business and can help you resolve the problem quickly. Another is to structure your contracts to be as financially beneficial as possible. Get as much of the money as a deposit up front as you can, and then insist on progress payments on at least a monthly basis, stay on top of your receivables and charge interest on late payments.
What’s been your favorite part of serving on the national board so far?
My favorite part of being on the Board: The relationships I’ve developed with the incredible women I’ve met, which includes the other Board members, the NAWBO team and NAWBO members from around the country.
When did you join NAWBO and what has kept you a member?
I joined NAWBO in 2003, not long after starting my business. When I first joined, it was to take advantage of the educational programming and to network with other women business owners. I had never owned a business before and needed to learn as much as possible about being an entrepreneur. Over the years, I’ve learned a ton from NAWBO, from speakers at my chapter meetings, national leadership training and workshops at the National conference. What’s also kept me a member is the relationships I’ve developed. Nobody really gets what life as a business owner is like except other business owners. The community I’ve developed through NAWBO of advisors and mentors has been invaluable, not to mention the dozens of close friends I’ve made through my participation.
What is your biggest business goal in the coming year?
To win at least two new good size contracts ($1M+/year).
What’s something most people might not know about you?
This is a hard question because I feel like I’m generally pretty open. Anyone who’s Facebook friends with me or follows me on Instagram knows that I’m a crazy cat lady, I love to garden and I love to travel. One thing people may not know is that I love to collect art, specifically local folk art. My home is decorated with stuff I’ve found at arts and crafts festivals and things I’ve bought from local artists when I travel. I rarely go anywhere without finding a new treasure.