Veterans Business Resources

a portal for all Veterans and SDV Small Business Owners

4 Basic Elements of Business

Government Contracting and General Business are more closely aligned than one might suspect.  Many of the same elements required to be successful in General Business are also required in Government Contracting.  For example, in each category, one must have; 

1.  Processes

2.  Relationships

3.  Homework/Research

4.  Niche 

Relationships, relationships, relationships!  In business and in many aspects of life, it is all about relationships, all about who you know and who knows you.  At the tactical level, people conduct business with other people.  Unless we get this part of our process absolutely right at the tactical level, we will likely not advance to any higher levels.  If by chance we should advance to higher levels, our position there is only temporary because our businesses rest on a very weak foundation.  Further, people do business with 3 types of people; 1. People they know, 2. People they like and 3. People they trust.  The only way to establish yourself as those 3 types is through Networking.  Are you beginning to see how all the things we have talked about on VBR are all interrelated and interwoven?  All of the methods and techniques we discuss here may or may not work for you.  Still, all is not lost because you will at least have the outline to work from.  The exact details and processes will be those that work best for your individual business and will be developed by you for you.  Of that, you can and should be proud!  Our goal here is to educate and share our knowledge of Government Contracting with other Veterans.

Advertisements

Filed under: Uncategorized

4 Basic Elements of Business

Government Contracting and General Business are more closely aligned than one might suspect.  Many of the same things required to be successful in General Business are also required in Government Contracting.  For example, in each category, one must have; 

1.  Processes

2.  Relationships

3.  Homework/Research

4.  Niche                

This post will focus on the “Process” of conducting business with the government.  No matter what the task; be it something as complicated as assembling a “Map Book” as the FIST NCOs did during my early years as a Field Artillery (FA) Officer or something as second nature as tying your shoes.  There is a process for virtually everything we do in life and conducting business with the government is no exception.  Each of us can and I’m sure will, identify different steps, in a different order for our individual processes, and that’s OK.  The most important thing is to begin to recognize and record your process.  As you think through and work through your process you will identify what does and does not work.  This is the perfect place for another story from my early career as a FA Officer.  I remember asking an older, wiser and much higher ranking soldier how I could be successful over my career.  I was expecting some long, complex, philosophical answer, but what he said to me was anything but complex. Actually, it was quite simple and instead caused me to have a “blinding flash of the obvious.”  He told me to get a journal, divide it in half; in the front half, write down everything I saw that was good and I wanted to model in my own career and in the back half, write down everything I saw that was bad and I never wanted to do in my career.  How difficult could that be?  Not difficult at all, so long as I had a journal with me at all times or remembered to record the action when I was in the same location as my journal.  In those days, I lived and worked in a fluid and dynamic environment.  To make this relatively simple piece of advice work I had to be disciplined enough to take time to record those good and bad situations.  Hey, we already established that Government Contracting is Hard Work and Takes Time, right?  So, I am sharing the advice of that old soldier with you now.  Write down the good and the bad, document, document, document your process.  The list you develop will likely change over time as you refine your process.  We have already covered some parts of “the process” in the Checklist itself.  Ensuring that your business maintains “the look” is a critical step in the process.  You are drawing the road map that others in your company can easily follow and duplicate the many successes you will surely enjoy.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Three Simple Truths

  • Government Contracting is HARD WORK!
  • Government Contracting takes TIME!
  • Government Contracting is WORTH IT! 

In the last 2 blog posts we proved 2 Simple Truths about Government Contracting; the first being that Government Contracting is Hard Work and the second truth that Government Contracting takes Time.  Now, we are going to prove the third Simple Truth, Government Contracting is WORTH IT! 

Each year the Small Business Administration (SBA) negotiates federal contracting goals with all federal agencies concerning the award of prime and subcontracts.  These goals, established at 23% say that the Small Business community will receive 23% of all federal contracts awarded by federal agencies.  The portion of that goal established for the Veteran Small Business community is 3%.  In fact, Public Law 106-50 (P.L. 106-50), sets as a goal that 3% of the value of all federal contracts and subcontracts shall be awarded to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses.  While this 3% may seem small at first glance, it represents a sizeable amount of money.  In fiscal year 2008, (the latest year data is available from the SBA) that 3% of federal procurements directed to the Veteran Small Business community represented $6.4 Billion!  That’s right, Billion with a capital “B,” and the bitter sweet irony of that number is that it only represents 1.5% of the actual 3% goal.  Yes, you’re right; the amount that SHOULD/COULD be awarded to the Veteran Small Business community under the outdated 23% goal is actually $12.8 Billion!  When we start to look at other potential contracting opportunities at the state and local levels that could go to the Veteran Small Business community, some put that number well north of $33 Billion!  Unfortunately most states don’t have contracting goals for the Veteran Small Business community, but working together we can change that.  Visit the Vetrepreneur Magazine to find out how we, working together can effectively cause change to happen.  You can also see which states include Veteran-Owned Businesses in their small business program.  The Vetrepreneur is also an excellent source of information on Veteran issues and concerns.  The Vetrepreneur, the official magazine of the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) is an excellent tool to keep in your tool kit.  

The federal goal of 23% of contracts and subcontracts being awarded to the small business community is, in my opinion, long overdue for revision, upward.  That and other concerns of the SBA are better left for discussion at another time.  With that being said, I believe you will still agree that having the opportunity to compete for an achieved $6.4 Billion and a statutorily mandated $12.8 Billion makes Government Contracting WORTH IT!  As we continue to go through this process together, you will discover there are Three Simple Truths about Government Contracting.  You have been introduced to the third and final truth today.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Three Simple Truths

  • Government Contracting is HARD WORK!
  • Government Contracting takes TIME!
  • Government Contracting is WORTH IT! 

The truth is that if we haven’t been exposed to or directly involved with Government Contracting, most of us don’t know that much, if anything about it.  Government Contracting is by its very nature complicated, bureaucratic and some might say, down right confusing.  The reality is, that it, like anything else, it can be learned.  The learning, the researching, the documenting, the doing, the documenting, the reviewing, the documenting, the analyzing, the documenting, the competing, the documenting, the losing, the documenting, the winning and the documenting, all take time.  I have found and continuously have one lesson of Government Contracting reinforced to me.  That lesson is that there are no short cuts = Government Contracting takes TIME! 

Our focus here is on federal contracting and for the vast majority of us, it will take 18 to 24 months or more before we win that initial government contract.  The initial contract is a major hurdle we have to successfully negotiate before we are truly in the game.  When we win the first government contract, we want to repeat that process time and time again.  When we lose, we want to avoid that process, forever.  How do we ensure we know what winning and losing look like, feel like, taste like?  We document of course.  During my military career, I was fortunate enough to work for a number of really great teachers who imparted some great life lessons to me.  One of my teachers/bosses taught me that “it is better to have a stubby pencil than to have a long memory any day.”  I remember that lesson as if it were yesterday and try to incorporate it into my daily life.  As I progress in seasoning, I understand the significance of that lesson more and more.  Some of you might be able to relate. 

Government Contracting is a continuous process of learning, growing and helping.  Learning the processes, growing both as an individual and as a business and helping those that come behind you.

Filed under: Uncategorized