Veterans Business Resources

a portal for all Veterans and SDV Small Business Owners

Congratulations! You’re Certified, Now What?

Congratulations!!!  All the challenging work of answering some relatively difficult and slightly intrusive personal questions is over.  All the collecting, analyzing, processing, sorting and assimilating the required supporting documents is over.  You finally completed the applications and after checking them one more time, put them in the mail.  Your family can finally have the dining table back as you no longer need it to layout and assemble the application packets.  [Actually you sort of enjoyed laying everything out, it reminded you of your time in the military and all the layouts you’ve gone through.  This is just another small example of how your military training qualifies you for the work of Government Contracting.  You used your keen attention to detail skills to assemble all the required supporting documents and get everything right the first time through].  It looks like everything has finally paid off.  You actually passed your site visit the first time around.  The wait is officially over as you received your APPROVED certifications in the mail today.  CONGRATULATIONS!!!  YOU’RE CERTIFIED!!!  NOW WHAT? 

Yes indeed, now what?  You’ve always heard that you needed to get your certifications, but why?  What is the real significance of having the certifications anyway?  Where and how do you leverage the power of the certifications?  These are all very good and appropriate questions.  Before we address them, allow me to state that there are only 2 certifications available to us at the federal level.  Those certifications are 1.  The 8(a) Business Development certification and 2.  The Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) certification.  WHAT?!  I thought there were more than 2 certifications.  What about the Veteran certification?  To date, there is no Veteran certification.  There is only a Veteran verification and that process is conducted through the Center for Veterans’ Enterprise (CVE).  I will discuss the Veteran verification process in a future post. 

Back to the issue of certifications and how best to leverage them.  Certifications are not a panacea, and they alone will not get contracts awarded to your organization.  Certifications can turn contract opportunities into sole source contract awards; they can help significantly limit competition for contract opportunities and serve as tie-breakers in other competitions.  Certifications do not take the place of your marketing efforts; instead, they provide you with another tool for your Marketing Tool Kit.  Certifications are great to have and in some cases difficult to get, but this truth remains constant.  Certifications will only work for you when you work them.  Understand the power of certifications, what they mean and when, where, why and how to use them (self education).  As always, the basics still apply, in this case, the basics of marketing; yourself, your business and your certifications.

See you on the high ground!

 

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Filed under: Getting Started, Registrations & Certifications,

Credit Reports, How Important Are They?

Credit has, by far, become one of the most misunderstood facets of our modern society. Many of us get off to the wrong foot with credit early in life and sometimes never recover. Some of us believe it will eventually go away; not realizing it is a permanent file.  Some people apply for a loan and hope the lender does not notice the bad things on their report. I suggest that this subject be taught somewhere in high school or college. We truly need to get the word out about the “very large” role credit plays in our lives.

As a small business counselor, I have seen firsthand how the system works against you when you get confronted with this monster called “credit”. What happens to people on the business side of credit reporting is just an extension of what has already happened to them personally. What I mean is that, the questions I am asked about credit reports in my office let me know that there has been a total misunderstanding of how the system works.

Let me start out by saying the credit reporting system was originally set up for the creditors and not the borrowers. So it stands to reason that if this is a system paid for by creditors it will always ultimately protect creditors. This point alone can sometimes be difficult for many of my Small Business Development Center (SBDC) clients to come to terms with.

How does the system work? Simple. Your creditor pays a fee to be a part of the system and be able to obtain your credit file. Your file is established when you apply for credit. In nine of ten cases, your creditor then reports the basic information about your transaction. Creditors will report things such as what type of account you opened, how much money was loaned and the monthly payment amount, etc.. This information is tracked over time to establish a history. This history, in-turn is put into a formula which results in a score or ranking, if you will, of your risk. This “risk” or credit score can determine if you will be granted further credit or it can dictate how much you pay, in interest, on that credit. Simple?  Right? It can get deeper. The scoring models take many, many things into account that we don’t always think of when it comes to discussing credit. For example, when you miss a payment due date (even if for only one day), failure to make the payment on time can lower your score. Additionally, if you only pay the minimum, over time you are not only adding to the interest payments but you are keeping your balances closer to the maximum account limit, also lowering your score. And so on it goes.

The most prudent route to take when it comes to teaching yourself about credit is to visit some web sites and study the information listed about the credit reporting system. Sources include the Federal Trade Commission, Fair Issac Corporation (FICO), Experian, Trans Union, Equifax, to name a few. This information is not secret yet so many of us are uneducated on the subject. If there is ever a time to get the facts, it is now. In a very tight credit market with the banks attempting to have their way with consumers, we should always be reminded of the old saying – “He who has the gold makes the rules”.

David L. Edmonds, Director

Tarrant County College

Small Business Development Center

Major, USAF Reserve, Retired

Filed under: Uncategorized

Chase that Rabbit – Down the Hole

I have liked Bugs Bunny since I was a kid.  When my son, who is today a grown man, was a kid, we would watch Bugs Bunny cartoons together.  Truth be told, I still like Bugs Bunny and occasionally watch his cartoons today.  The storyline is always the same, but I keep returning to watch over and over again.  Based on the longevity and success of the cartoon series and the fact that it hasn’t changed much over the years, I know I’m not the only adult that still watches Bugs Bunny.  

Anyway, back to the story.  Invariably Bugs will raid Elmer Fud’s garden or do something else to irritate him and then its on.  There is always a chase, Bugs running playfully along while eating a carrot and cracking jokes, with Elmer trailing at a slight distance and firing his shotgun in Bug’s general direction.  The chase carries us through some funny events and/or locations and at the very last minute, Bugs always dives down a rabbit hole.  Elmer, who is now closer and still firing his shotgun sees Bugs dive in the hole. This is where Elmer always loses him, in the hole.  At this point, I, along with the rest of the viewing audience know what’s coming next.  Elmer is going to run up to the hole and fire a few rounds into it.  Then Elmer is going to place his shotgun on the ground, get down on his hands and knees and stick his hand down the hole and feel all about.  Elmer will feel something that he thinks is Bugs but is actually a keg of gun powder, a stick of dynamite, a wild animal, a big bear trap etc, etc.  

Elmer will be blown up or caught in the bear trap or something else will happen to him that makes us all laugh.  Just one time, I want to see Elmer chase Bugs down that hole.  I believe the outcome would be 100% different.  Elmer would finally capture Bugs, the series would be over and millions of adults would forever lose another tie to our youth, but, Elmer would have finally won the war with Bugs Bunny. 

How does this story apply to you and Government Contracting?  This story applies to many of us because we approach Government Contracting the same way Elmer Fud approaches catching and capturing Bugs.  Elmer is not willing or never thinks to go down the hole himself.  Too many of us are not willing to go down that hole to where the prize is.  We stop just short of mission complete.  When we learn to chase procurement opportunities all the way down the hole, we will know for sure if there is or is not an opportunity for us.  Many, many times we will discover just another empty hole, but I believe that one day soon, we will discover our prize at the bottom of that hole. 

Don’t quit, don’t you ever quit, Chase that Rabbit – Down the Hole. 

See you on the high ground!           

Filed under: Getting Started

“So, what do you do?”

Recently, while attending the 6th Annual National Veterans Small Business Conference and Expo in Las Vegas, I overheard one gentleman pose that exact question to another gentleman.  “So, what do you do?”  A large group of travelers, Veterans, prime contractors, government employees and various staff members were all standing in the check-in lines from Hades!  There had to be 8 to 10 different check-in lines each about 20 people deep that Monday afternoon at Caesars Palace.  Probably 99% of the people in those lines were all too familiar with the “hurry up and wait” practice, so we were not stressing.  As a way to pass the time while we patiently waited, many people engaged in light casual conversations.  You know, the customary pleasantries, “How are you today?  Here for the conference?  How many conferences have you attended?  Where are you coming in from?”  I normally would not have paid much attention to casual conversations around me as I don’t make a habit of listening to other people’s conversations, but this time was different.  This time I heard that million dollar question that immediately made my mental alertness antenna go up.  “So, what do you do?”  

One gentleman served up the one question that everybody small business owner attending that conference was dying to have someone ask them, “So, what do you do?”  It is important that we have someone, especially someone with “final decision authority” ask us that question.  I have no idea if the man asking that particular question that particular Monday afternoon in Vegas was the “final decision authority” for his organization, but it should not matter.  It should not matter because our response should be the same no matter who asks that question and it should be so powerful, so polished, so practiced and so well delivered that the person asking the question immediately follows up with “Really, tell me more.”  “Really, tell me more” – “Really, tell me more” – how sweet does that sound to you?  When your shot group is tight, it sounds like opportunity!  

Really, tell me more provides the perfect opportunity for you to now deliver that equally powerful, equally polished and equally well practiced “Elevator Pitch.”  We must be fully prepared to violently exploit and execute against that opening, that potentially golden opportunity.  OK, maybe “violently exploit” was a bit excessive for some of our readers.  The point is we must ALWAYS be ready because we never know when or where opportunity will present itself. 

If you are not now as good as you want to be or as good as you know you need to be – PRACTICE.  If after you practice, you discover that you still slip up from time to time – PRACTICE SOME MORE.  If after you’ve practiced some more, you discover you’ve gotten better but you’re still not 100%, PRACTICE EVEN MORE.  Keep going, don’t quit, don’t you ever quit.  It ain’t over ‘till YOU win!  

See you on the high ground!                   

Filed under: Getting Started