“Bootstrap” is one of RJ Blake’s favorite words when he’s talking about the consulting business that he founded a decade ago.

“We’re pushing 100 people. It was certainly a wild time to start a company, to say the least: two kids in diapers, one just out of the NICU, and not a lot of money. It was completely bootstrapped and kind of the American dream — glad that we made it so far,” he said of the launch of Blake Willson Group, which provides professional services, technology solutions and operations support services.

Blake, who spent seven years in the Army before becoming a CPA and going on to work at KPMG and Deloitte, was able to start his company as a service-disabled veteran-owned small business. That SDVOSB status absolutely helped him found Blake Willson and removed barriers in landing contracts with Defense Department and Intelligence Community agencies, he said during the American Society of Military Comptrollers’ The Business of Defense podcast on Federal News Network.

Today, the Arlington, Virginia, government contractor is in transition and preparing for when it eventually sizes out of its SDVOSB and 8(a) status, Blake said.

“We are deliberate and intentional in our growth,” he said. “But the reason we want to grow is not so leaders can drive around in a Lamborghini, it’s so we can do really good work for DoD and for the IC.”

Blake offered five steps that have helped his business prepare for the transition from small to bigger, if not big.

Transition Step 1: Plan for losing your special small business status well before you do

“Years before you think you’re going to grow out of that status, you have to have a plan,” Blake said.

A key element of that plan needs to be an infrastructure that can support customers’ needs and the business’ growth. And that’s where things can easily go wrong, he cautioned. “If you haven’t figured out by throwing the spaghetti at the wall really what sticks and how to wash, rinse, repeat and develop your infrastructure, things can kind of go south,” Blake said. “You see a lot of small businesses burn out.”

Use that information as the company evolves to plot its future strategy and how it will operate post its small business status, he advised.

Continue reading to learn Blake’s additional four steps and watch the video podcast.