Veterans Business Resources

a portal for all Veterans and SDV Small Business Owners

Writing Proposals that Win!

We were smart throughout our military careers, so why should we change that success strategy now?  We want to be smart about Government Contracting as well.  Don’t reinvent the wheel.  Spend some time researching proposals.  Learn the basic elements of a proposal and the kind of information typically included in each element.  I’ve already listed some places where you should be able to find examples.  If possible, get your hands on examples of winning proposals in your particular field/industry. 

Most people believe that the Government is more concerned with price than any other factor when it comes time to award a contract.  That might be true in some selected cases, but generally that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  The Government is looking for the best value.  Proposals are where you get to display your superior written communication skills and convince the Government your company can and will provide the best value and the best solution to their identified need.  

Remember, you can’t win unless you submit a proposal and give yourself a shot.  Get in the game!  Don’t be overly concerned about winning or not winning.  The first several times might be tough and very stressful to pull the solicitation together, but the process gets better and so will you.  Oftentimes people choose to have outside consultants write proposals for them with the goal of increasing their opportunity to win.  This can be an expensive undertaking and is an individual business owner decision.  

To me, proposals are really where the rubber meets the road.  Everything before proposals is important, but unless you deliver the goods on the proposal, all the earlier work is slightly diminished in importance.  With that said, let’s look at this another way.  If you’ll allow me to use a sports analogy; in professional baseball we call a batter with a .300 batting average a really, really good batter.  All that really means is he is getting 3 hits every 10 at bats.  When you are winning 3 of every 10 proposals you submit, you are doing really, really well!  You will not be there out of the gate, but you will get there over time, of this I am certain!

See you on the high ground!

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Networking With a Purpose

At the end of the day, our most basic desire of Networking is turning contacts into contracts.  With that in mind, there are some key questions we must ask ourselves and answer before we achieve the kinds of successes we’re looking for; turning contacts into contracts.  Some basic questions we might ask and seek answers to are; which individual(s) or group of people at the Networking event is most important?  How do I determine who is most important?  When do I determine who is most important?  What is my strategy for the Networking event? 

A good Networking Strategy has S.M.A.R.T. goals.  These S.M.A.R.T. goals turn contacts into contracts by developing business alliances that can/will help grow your business.  S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific – they describe the details of what you want out of each networking situation.  They identify the “5 Ws” and the how; the who, what, when, where and how of your overall goal.  We already know the WHY, which is to turn contacts into contracts.  Measurable – each goal you establish must be measurable.  Develop a metric to measure your success.  Attainable – your networking goals must be important to you and you must be committed to working hard to achieve them.  Realistic – is the goal you created doable based on your skills, capabilities, resources and time?  Timely – each goal you set should have a timeframe attached to it; otherwise you will not push yourself to achieve it. 

The most important people at any networking event are the people that have both money and the ability to award and/or influence the award of contracts.  The next group in importance is the people that you can form a team with that will produce a win-win outcome.  When possible, always get a list of the networking participants.  Once you have even a partial list of attendees, immediately sit down and start conducting research to get as much information about them as possible.  Learn as much as you can about the agencies that will attend and participate in the Networker.  

Document the mental exercises you just went through.  This is now your action plan.   There should be very few, if any surprises when you start executing your plan.  Even if there is an occasional speed bump, you can quickly and easily get back on track because you have your process down cold and besides that, you can improvise on the fly.  You’re a Veteran of the greatest fighting force in the history of the world! 

See you on the high ground!        

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Key Contracting Websites

The vast majority of what we’re going to talk about on this site deals with federal contracting opportunities.  Why?  The Federal Government gives us the greatest opportunity to leverage our Veteran status to its fullest potential.  Some individual states have come on board to finally recognize the tremendous contributions and sacrifices made by Veterans.  These same states have now included Veterans and Veteran Owned Small Businesses as part of their statewide contracting goals.  An excellent way to track the progress and find out if your state has enacted any Veteran friendly contracting laws is to check the state tracker at Vetrepreneur Magazine. 

A federal website you should have saved under your favorites is the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU).  The OSDBU website gives you contact information for the Small Business Specialists (SBS) at all the federal agencies.  These are the agency people to start with when you’re looking to do business with that agency.  Their counterparts at public and private companies are Small Business Liaison Officers (SBLO) or Supplier Diversity Officers and can be found on respective company websites.  

Another website you should become quite familiar with is Federal Business Opportunities (fedbizopps).  Everything you will find listed on fedbizopps is over $25,000.  That little bit of information is good to know.  Another little bit of good to know information is that you can tailor your search of fedbizopps to return only opportunities set aside for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business.  The more you can define your search, the more accurate the search returns will be.    

Veteran specific contracting opportunities UNDER $25,000 will be listed on your local VA internal websites.  Get out, meet those people and start building professional business relationships.  Let’s get connected and get to contracting!  

Finally, research the “small business” or “supplier diversity” websites of potential commercial customers you’d like to do business with to learn about their procurement forecast, contracting opportunities and to identify their needs.  After doing this bit of research, develop your strategy for solving their problem/need and get to contracting.   

See you on the high ground!

 

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Veteran Registration Databases

Everyone should be registered in the Vendor Information Pages by now.  If there is anyone that has not registered in this database – you need to do so with a quickness.  The processing timeline is much shorter now than just a few months ago so there is no excuse.  

The Vendor Information Pages (VIP) is a powerful tool and can help boost your business’s exposure and partnering opportunities.  People do not want to partner or do business with someone that has an outdated registration – why should they?  Would you?  Keep your registration information updated and accurate.  

The verification system is not perfect but it is the best system we have at this time.  There is talk about establishing a formal certification process for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses.  We will keep you posted on any developments. 

We have to realize the awesome power and leverage having the Veteran status offers our community.  For example, we have the Veterans Preference in contracting priority when it comes to award of VA contracts.  Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) is number 1 and Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) is number 2.  There is currently legislation afoot to bring other federal agencies onboard with their own programs modeled after that of the VA. 

The first place that everyone should have registered is with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR).  That was the very first database we registered in, right?  Remember also, this is where our initial marketing efforts begin.  In addition to everyone being registered in the VIP, we should, at a minimum, also be registered in the Dynamic Small Business (DSB) and the Online Representations and Certifications (ORCA) databases.   

See you on the high ground!

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