Veterans Business Resources

a portal for all Veterans and SDV Small Business Owners

Dress for Success

I realize this title might suggest to some “that I need new, stylish clothes to be successful or to be considered successful.”  Perhaps it suggests to some that I believe that “the clothes make the man/woman.”  Still to others it could hint that I subscribe to the “fake it ‘till you make it” philosophy.  Well, you would be wrong on almost all counts.  I do advocate looking professional in dress, but I also advocate several other things as well that we will also add under the “Dress for Success” title.  Some of those other areas of concern include;    

Neat appearance; when I was a little kid I had a grade school teacher that always told us that it didn’t matter if we only owned 1 pair of jeans, we still didn’t have to be dirty.  Being dirty was a choice.  Today as a grown up, with more than 1 pair of jeans/slacks, being unkempt is still a choice.  We can take the time or make the time to ensure we present ourselves in the best possible manner.  

Clean nails; we must ensure our nails are clean and trimmed as necessary.  Men, I completely understand if you choose not to get a manicure, just keep in mind, the requirement for clean, trimmed nails still remains.  Ladies, this sounds like another reason to visit the spa!  YES!     

Hey, here’s an idea, let’s use the buddy system we all learned during our service in the military.  Have your friend give you a once over and provide feedback of corrections if necessary.  It is our responsibility to do the same for them.  

Having just returned from the 6th Annual National Veterans Small Business Conference and Expo, this next observation is almost in real time.  Often we’ll return to the Trade Show floor after a meal.  Imagine how embarrassing it would be to walk up to your future client’s booth with spinach salad still stuck between your teeth.  Ouch!  Not exactly how we planned this engagement.  Make time to stop by the Mens/Womens Room and check yourself from head to toe.  Floss before going to the Trade Show floor and speaking with your potential future customer that you’ve spent weeks researching.  Don’t allow something like this that is clearly within your control to ruin all those weeks of hard work, research, planning and preparation.  

Another critical part of the “Dress for Success” is to ensure we always have our Marketing Material; business cards, capabilities statements and our well rehearsed elevator pitch all at the ready to pull out in a moments notice.  

Finally, we want to dress ourselves with plenty positive self talk, can-do attitude and a mindset of success.  You have something the U.S. Government and the world desperately needs, they just don’t know it yet.  Everyday before you leave your residence, be sure to Dress for Success!

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Filed under: Uncategorized

Central Contractor Registration is Marketing 101

When does it all begin?  Where does it all begin?  Why does it all begin?  How does it all begin?  These questions all relate to the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) and Marketing.  Perhaps the first place we begin to Market our businesses is in the CCR.  By being registered in the CCR, we are screaming to the government and others looking for us, “HERE I AM OVER HERE!  LOOK AT ME!  I’M OPEN AND READY FOR BUSINESS!”  Being registered in the CCR is mandatory before a federal contract can be awarded to your company, period.  

Getting your business registered in the CCR is just part 1 of a 3 part process.  Before moving to the other 2 parts of the process, I want to take a moment and talk about what a good CCR registration looks like.  A good registration has all the required data entry fields completed with good, accurate and truthful information.  Under the heading Business Types, every category that applies to your business is selected.  If you are a construction company or one that requires bonding, that information is filled in accurately and completely.  You want to select every North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code that applies to your business.  You can now enter up to 1000 NAICS codes.  List all Standard Industry Classification (SIC) codes, Product Service Codes (PSC) and Federal Supply Classification (FSC) codes as they apply to your business.  If you have a Federal Certification, check Small Business Types to ensure your certification is listed.  If not listed, contact your district SBA office for assistance.  People often get slightly confused on this next part.  Under CCR Points of Contact, they are asking for the points of contact within your company for these specific areas; Government Business, Past Performance and Electronic Business.  When you have green boxes with white checks in them on the left side of the CCR registration page, you are good to go and ready to proceed to the 2nd part of the registration, the SBA Profile or the Dynamic Small Business Search information.  

Much of the information from the CCR will transfer over to the SBA Profile.  There is   still critical information you must enter and critical fields that must be completed.  I always advise clients to consider adding the capacity to accept Government Credit Cards and when possible, establish a General Services Administration (GSA) schedule.  Try and try as you may, you will not be able to enter information in any field controlled by the SBA.  You can, however, enter certifications under Non-Federal-Government Certifications.  Under the Products & Services category is the all important Capabilities Narrative.  This area is critical to even getting looked at.  When this field is blank, the Contract Specialist will not even bother to give you a first look.  There is a limit of 255 characters you can enter here so choose your words wisely and construct a complete paragraph.  The next critical area is Keywords.  Now, there is a limit of 525 characters you can enter in this space and a 20 character restriction on word length.  Unlike the Capabilities Narrative, the Keywords field doesn’t have to make sense.  Simply include different words that describe what you do and be sure to separate them by comas.  The final critical category is Performance History (References).  The government wants to know you can and actually have done the work you’re claiming you can do.  Don’t be afraid to fill in all the requested boxes.  The government can’t verify your ability to do the work unless they can actually talk to your references.

The 3rd and final registration is the Online Representations and Certifications (ORCA).  This is the information that goes in Section K of contracts.  The government decided to ease the requirement of having you complete this information every time you go after a contract.                  

 

Filed under: Getting Started, Government Contracting, Registrations & Certifications, ,

Average White Band: “Person to Person”

“Person to person | face to face | person to person | one to one | just you and me | person to person | that’s just how it’s done.”  For those of you not familiar with that particular line of lyrical genius, it comes from one of the preeminent and legendary ‘70s bands,   Average White Band.  This particular part in their song talked about love and how it works best.  You too might agree with the concept that love works best when it’s person to person, face to face.  

The Average White Band were some “bad cats” (read good) back in the day!  They recorded a number of all time classics during their illustrious career.  Actually, they have too many classics to list here; besides, I don’t want to go down memory lane right now.  I do, however, want to share how their concept of “Person to Person” and perhaps a slightly different way of thinking about an action/activity critical to the long term success and survivability of our businesses can and will impact our future.  That action/activity is business itself.  Specifically, how business gets done.  At most of our level, that being the tactical level, business is done person to person, face to face.  Remember, business is primarily done with 3 types of people.  Those types are 1.  People you know, 2.  People you like and 3.  People you trust.  Think about it, when given the opportunity and the choice, we conduct our personal business with people we know, like and trust.  It’s no different as we progress up the food chain.  

We can never become these 3 people types to our customers from long distance, over the phone or via e-mail.  We have to get out of our offices, contact and visit them from time to time and build those professional relationships that lead to them knowing you, liking you and trusting you.  Unless and until we master this level of business interaction, we can hardly expect that we will have and enjoy long term business success and survivability.  However, with this critical action/activity solidly in place, and religiously practiced by everyone in our organizations, we have good reason to believe and expect that our businesses will grow, succeed and survive.  As we progress up the food chain and our titles become fancier, and our offices and other surroundings become fancier and fancier, don’t forget that some Veteran or group of Veterans somewhere down the line are making the successes you enjoy happen and they are making them happen just like the Average White Band said; person to person, face to face.

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Government Contracting is a Team Sport

Government Contracting is a Team Sport.  Depending on your level of success at this point in the process will determine how much that statement resonates with you.  As we and our businesses grow, we will need to add different position players to our team.  We will need to add skill players to our team.  We can no longer afford to continue wearing all the hats.  We must learn to trust in our leaders and let some of the control go to other team members.  If you don’t already have them, these are three of the top skill players you will add to your team; 1.  the Contracts Attorney, 2.  the Accountant and 3.  the Capture Manager.  Now, let’s take a look at what these key players do for us.  The Contracts Attorney obviously is going to keep us out of jail.  He/she will keep us from doing things that are illegal as they relate to government contracting and advise us of our options when we’re considering filing a protest or claim.  He/she will also review all contracts to ensure we are “street legal” and not agreeing to anything that can blow up in our faces later.  The Accountant also helps keep us out of jail and the poor house as we continually build our businesses.  The Accountant will advise you of the latest tax laws, how they impact you and the business and advise you on all financial matters.  The Capture Manager is the S-3; he/she organizes and trains the people on the Capture Team.  The Capture Manager is responsible for proposal development, including maintaining schedules; coordinating inputs, reviews, strategy implementation; resolving internal problems; and providing process leadership.  In short, their job is to find and win government contracts.  

Clearly we must trust all 3 of these key people and know that we are all pulling the wagon in the same direction.  A good way to ensure that’s the case is for all the key leaders/players to have some “skin in the game.”  At the levels of success we aspire to, Government Contracting is a Team Sport.     

 

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