James Radford, CEO of Trust Consulting Services

The next great idea is just around the corner. This idea has inspired numerous entrepreneurs, and has led to the creation of what is now more than 33 million small businesses across the nation. Entrepreneurs dive into their ideas, fueled by ambition and self-motivation. However, about 21% of businesses fail in their first year; though many make it to subsequent years, even if only to fail later.

James Radford, CEO and founder of Trust Consulting Services, knows this tightrope act all too well. He launched the business in 2015 after experiencing a number of unexpected personal and professional setbacks. His career started in the Air Force. After sustaining a work-related injury in Germany, he was transferred back to the U.S. in 2002 where he was transferred into contracting. He gained a great deal of federal procurement knowledge and quickly dug in his roots.

But it wasn’t long before he was given a life-altering diagnosis that would force him to medically retire from the Air Force as the illness could leave him severely disabled at any given time. While he still had some time in his contract, this left him in a difficult position. He took up night shift security detail to make ends meet. By this point, Radford ended a bad marriage that left him a single parent raising four children, and it threw him into a panic.

“I can only describe the situation as traumatic,” Radford says. “It began with the diagnosis and really cemented itself with the dismissal. I had lost my support system, leaving me to raise four kids alone. I was going to be without a major source of income, and I was also going to school. I was running low on savings. I couldn’t pay my mortgage. Things were looking bleak for a time.”

An unexpected opportunity

But little did he know, something was just around the corner for him. It wasn’t the next big idea but something better: an opportunity. While working security, he noticed that the number of inspections for his team was bizarrely frequent. He felt something was off, so he went to his supervisor and asked to see the books. His supervisor was put off, but Radford stuck his ground.

“I know our team, and I know how contracting works. Let me see the books, I’ll fix them, and we’ll never see them again,” Radford recalls saying to his boss. In two weeks, he made good on his word. After smoothing out some of the technical and logistical errors that the team was facing, the inspections stopped entirely. This sparked something inside of Radford, and he wasn’t the only person to see the change. Only two weeks into his position, he was soon offered a position to take over contracts for the security department.

This set the foundation for something new. Radford sacrificed sleep to finish his MBA. Once he graduated, he hit the ground looking for ways to keep himself and his family afloat. Contracting had gotten him this far, and it would see him through. He took up work with the Coast Guard, Homeland Security, Washington Headquarter Services and other government bodies. This gave him more valuable experience on how to deal with a variety of contracts while working in Acquisitions and Procurement. He learned a great number of work ethics and management styles, how to work with them, and also built a strong network of friends wherever he went.

How Trust Consulting Services started

All of this led Radford to work with a small business. He helped them improve their operations while also gaining a better understanding of business itself. While he felt inspired to start his own company, he didn’t know the nitty-gritty of how it all worked, and this was yet another opportunity for him to learn and grow.

“The more I entertained the thought of starting my own business, the more ready I felt to actually do it. The company I worked with gave me a lot of confidence to put what I had learned into action,” Radford reflects. “Unfortunately, the company went under eventually. I realized something was wrong when they kept promising to pay me but never did. God really cut off the supply line and said, ‘This is it, James. It’s time to move.’”

It was then in 2015 that Radford took the leap of faith to start Trust Consulting Services. He reached out to his friends in the Department of Transportation, who immediately had work for him to help them with their operations. He started to work alone, but eventually, his team grew to four people. Then ten. And by the end of his work with the DoT, Trust was 15 members strong.

A path for professional and personal growth

Since then, Trust Consulting Services hasn’t stopped growing. The company has secured $58 million in revenue, employed over 1,000 employees and created over 800 jobs in the state of Maryland. After years of uncertainty, Radford has not only carved out a path for professional success but his personal growth as well.

“No matter what you do, there’s always a price to pay for success. For a while, my price was personal relationships. In order for me to build a future to keep me and my family safe, I put them aside to focus on what I felt like I needed to do,” he says. “Isn’t it funny how that works? Things slowed down enough to allow me a chance to reengage to the people that mattered most to me and rebuild those personal connections. I couldn’t be happier.”

Trust Consulting Services works with civilian agencies and Fortune 500 enterprises to provide them with staff and optimized business solutions. Today, the company also works on federal contracts, and Radford has gained a firm standing as a motivational public speaker teaching people the power of never giving up, self-accountability and what he defines as “Excuse-Free Living.”

Jon Stojan

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