Making Growth Simple
Tasha Jones is a U.S. military intelligence analyst turned government contract simplifier for small businesses.
Tasha picked up her work ethic from her mom. So far, Tasha’s own hard work has led to many important roles—U.S. military intelligence analyst, working at the FBI, working as a civil servant, becoming a mother—and now, to becoming her own person (< Tasha’s words) and business-of-one.
Technically, Tasha’s consultancy is her second business. The need to cool down during Florida’s balmy summers fueled her first venture.
Entrepreneurial Roots in Bloom
Growing up in Polk County, Florida, one of the largest counties in the sunshine state, Tasha and her sister would buy chilly cups, sweet juice frozen in paper cups. Some with fruit cocktail inside like icy gems. Some cost a quarter, others fifty cents. These simple delights inspired simple logic: To enjoy more chilly cups, we need more money. How do we get it?
Tasha negotiated with her granddad to use his lawnmower and his gas. She and her sister worked the neighborhood mowing lawns. Tasha also built her first collaborative team during this venture, enlisting friends and cousins to rake up grass clippings for a portion of the earnings. Chilly cups for all.
The logic that led Tasha to create her own consultancy, Twenty39 (pronounced twenty-thirty-nine), is as beautifully simple as her logic from those childhood summers: To grow, small businesses need more money. What if I use my skills to help them get it?
Twenty39 simplifies government contracting for small businesses, empowering government agencies and small businesses to work together more confidently.
“There’s a lot of complexity with government contracting—compliance, the process of going after opportunities, and all the language, which is very different. Small businesses tend to do everything manually. We cut all of that down and simplify it, and we actually do the work instead of just advising them.”
Building Bonds that Matter
Twenty39 is growing. Much like she brought others along in her youth, Tasha pivoted from a one-woman shop to a four-person team. “We also have anywhere from five to seven consultants at any one time. Our goal is to grow more, hopefully this year we’ll be at 10 people,” she told us.
As they grow, Twenty39 prioritizes hiring veterans. Eventually other underserved groups too.
“We’re a B3 organization in the state of Virginia, meaning we’ve made a pledge to bring in veterans. Virginia also has several programs to allow military members, second chance individuals, and other underserved demographics to come in and learn a skill. They can join us as an employee or intern, then we recommend or refer them to companies we know that are seeking the skill sets they’re interested in.”
Chilly cups for all.
Tasha picked up her giving nature from her sister. “My sister never complains. She just does. And I think about that when I’m doing business, working with a client, making sure that I’m being patient.”
Tasha’s military experience also taught her a lot about working with others.
“Coming into the military you’re thrown into a group of people who all have different backgrounds, different beliefs. And you basically have to shift and accommodate the various groups. And you shift a lot—the group of people you’re with in boot camp is different from your first duty station and so on. My military career has helped my entrepreneurial endeavors by preparing me to be able to adjust, no matter what comes along.”
While Tasha’s mom, sister, and military family directly influenced her, there are undoubtedly a hundred more stories and lessons she’s picked up from her extended family. Tasha’s mom is one of 10 siblings. Tasha’s grandmother and grandfather each have 10 siblings too. When we asked Tasha about her greatest source of pride, her answer was easy.
“The relationships with my family. Being a Black woman in the United States historically, especially with our family in Florida, there was the Rosewood massacre, and we have history with a lot of that. And there’s generational trauma passed down in families—I see it all the time where these issues mean there isn’t a close family relationship. In our country there’s a lot going on from a cultural and ethnicity perspective. And it’s not new. I just feel it’s been more polarized because it’s in the media—social media, the news, everything is just in your face. So my family and friend relationships—putting effort into those because we really need to lean on each other with all of these things happening—is important to me.”
Despite mostly living and working with large groups and teams, Tasha is an introvert at heart.
The move to working for herself felt natural. “I like working alone and in my head, even though I know how to work in a team as well. For me working alone was a welcome reprieve from the noise.”
Tasha’s definition of success involves doing less, not more. Giving herself space and time.
“Success for me is having the flexibility and capacity to say no and just do what I want. I might just need to take care of myself, to rest. I like being able to go and garden and just sit outside, have a fire pit, a movie, watch Good Times, Sanford and Son. Having the ability to just stop and breathe for a moment—that’s success.”
To other veterans considering starting their own business, Tasha offers these insights:
“In a word: Prepare. Give yourself ample time to prepare and learn some of the basics about business in general. And really take stock of what you enjoy doing, what you’re good at, what you don’t like doing, and what you’re bad at. You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you’re just doing what you know. You want to do what you enjoy because being an entrepreneur is not linear at all and you’re going to have some bad times, tough times. You need to be doing something you really enjoy or you won’t stick with it.”