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When we were kids, our Mothers told us we could be whatever we wanted to be. Well, while this may be true, there are some things that are out of our control. When you went to your Dad, and said, “I want to be a Center in the NBA”, he may have said something akin to – “the average height in our family is 6’ so, unless you experience a tremendous growth spurt; you’d better reassess your career prospects.” This same rationale applies to those of you who aspired to be Mick Jagger growing up, and while you now find yourself successful in commerce, you’re most certainly not living the life of a 60 year old rock star. The same sobriety must be applied to pursuit of GSA OASIS.

Sure, there are GSA Proposal companies; Capture Management companies; and everything in between that is willing to say anything in order to get your business. “You can win if you only…”; “we’ve got a $$$$%%%% client win-rate…”; and “we did DNA enhancements for Bill Walton….” Here’s the sober truth: at some point, you gotta grow up and recognize who you are, and start there.

Now, taking on the practicality of many of our Fathers (and a few Old Spice commercials); look carefully at that GSA OASIS evaluation checklist in the RFI; now look at your company; now look back at the checklist… you either are what it says you need to be or you’re not. There is simply not enough time for you to morph. So you realize now that your trying out on American Idol, while exciting, is probably not going to change your career path. You have 3 choices now:

  1. be a romantic and go after the impossible,
  2. develop an alternative strategy to still be part of the game, or
  3. quite. I am not much for quitters, so if chose option 3, you should stop reading now.

Now, this time; look carefully at that GSA OASIS RFI overall; now look at your company; now look back at the RFI… ahhh, yes, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King. You noticed that there is an embedded value proposition that you possess which you missed the first time around. It is one that is unique to each and every federal contractor – Relationships. You see, Rock Stars don’t make money without a fan base – they just as well might still be playing in their parents’ garage. What you know for certain is this: the folks that buy from you now do so because they like you. And, that is your ticket to getting backstage at the concert. Right now, you should be completing a response to the RFI – not for the purpose of competing, but for the purpose pre-selling GSA OASIS to your current clients and subsequently to the eventual Rock Stars to become a glorified Rodi.

But you have another problem… the Rock Stars don’t know who you are.

Well, we can help with that; the “Teaming Exchange” was incepted and formed for the practical purpose of meeting folks where they are, and helping as many Smalls to monetize this contract vehicle as possible – while mitigating risk for all involved. While we may not end up with every Rock Star on the planet; all we need is one U2, perhaps a Led Zepplin, and maybe a Foo Fighter; we won’t make all of the money – but we’ll certainly carve out a noticeable chunk.

To determine if our framework may work for you, forward your completed GSA OASIS RFI checklist for scoring; mailto: contracts@anvil-incus.com by May 10th for urgent consideration – after that, no guarantees on review prior to the final RFP.

If you don’t stand a chance, we’ll tell you; if you’re a Rodi, but not Rock Star material, we’ll tell you that too. But whatever you are, we will meet you “where you are” and help find a way to get you a job at the concert – being a Rodi, and making money, beats the hell out of being a Groupie, and getting pimped, any day.

For more information on the GSA OASIS Teaming Exchange Business Case, visit: http://bit.ly/gsa-oasis

Join OASIS Teaming Group on LinkedIn @ http://linkd.in/ZZMbk7

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Now, this is a true story. Let me qualify what you are about to read by saying I personally have assisted many 8(a) firms in transition to full & open. However, there is one firm owned by a gentleman so unassuming that you could easily presume him inconsequential. But, when looked at from the lenses of true scalable operations, sound management, leadership – and did I say performance? This firm’s record can only be declared as phenomenal.

But why, you ask , do I wish to share this story? I share this story for those of you 8(a)’s who believe that if you are the best at what you do; if you do the right thing; if you bring value to the federal agency(s) that you work for while in the program, you will be able to leverage that performance on its merits. Although, it used to be that way in the not so distant past; its not anymore.

The 8(a) program, like SDVOSB, and HUBZone, has become a means negotiated proxy whose value is not measured by performance and value per tax-payer $$ spent; but by favor to firms’ ran by minorities committed to soon to be retired personnel. I write this, not to have you give up, or presume hopelessness – no, not by a long shot. I tell this story, so that those of you who are doing everything right and enjoying the results of your labor, nevertheless, don’t presume to relax and believe that a 50/50 portfolio upon graduation is a sufficient cushion to propel you into the full & open with sustained momentum – it’s not.

You now need to start competing for (and winning) small business set-asides (outside of 8(a)) in years 4 and 5… but back to the story. Once upon a time, an 8(a) started the program with a solid strategy, solid private-sector past performance, and strong agency relationships – or so they thought. As a result and expected, they hit the ground running. Built a portfolio of solid contract vehicles, set-aside and not; and enjoyed 9 years of 8(a) bliss. Management negotiated good faith contract transitions for program off-ramp in a fashion that would be on par with private sector risk management. Again, they did it right.

But, then the fears of post-career unknowns visited upon the relative contracting officer personnel office and Maslow’s Hierarchy was descended by these folks like it was Jacob’s Ladder and all bets were off. For you see, cloaked in the statement “gov’ts best interest” is many times some bureaucrat’s self-interest. Despite stellar past performance over 9 years, forged relationships, and commitments made between Men as men have done for decades in this space; we watched this “example of excellence” be thrown unapologetically under the bus asif it were a form of Cesar reincarnated.

So, I say to you -do not believe, despite past-performance is no longer prologue for positive leverage post graduation. Take all commitments, even those executed in writing, by bureaucrats as having a shelf-life not communicated. Establish a reserve beginning with the your 1st 8(a) win above the line of profit – and title it “fund for defense and claims on portfolio.” Soci-economic programs are now on par with Vegas; the house is not happy to see you leave with any winnings; you may have to fight if you plan on leaving of the front door…

There’s a lot of symptoms being experienced right now by Smalls in federal contracting, but unfortunately the cause of what ‘REALLY’ ales is not part of the conversation; because the folks doing all of the talking aren’t organic to Smalls and thus can’t diagnose. BTW, wasn’t that the reason I created VSBA in the 1st place? Of course, but I digress… regarding that cough…

Here’s the x-ray – thanks to the impact of sequestration, continuing resolution, and the current debt ceiling issues > compounded by the glut of GWACs issued by every procurement agency exec looking to make a name; what Smalls are experiencing is ‘contract vehicle over-saturation with minuscule market demand support’ with a dose of regulatory imperative – a perfect storm or ‘Black-Swan’ event by any other name.

Black-Swans are, of course, those highly improbable but painfully consequential events that strike from the blue. These types of events can cripple, vulnerable Smalls that are caught off guard; destroy financial performance or kill the business outright. Because they are rare and almost impossible to predict, black-swan events normally fall outside the scope of most Small Business risk management programs (assuming a Small has such a program at all).

So, now that we have a prognosis – what’s next? Well unlike the common cold, or the flu, the ‘one shot antibiotic fits all’ mantra won’t work. The remedy for each Small is unique, taking into consideration such variables as industry, size, product/service type, diversity, prior preparation, etc. – you get the picture. And, that is why we are experiencing such a influx of noise from the kabuki theater crowd – the truth is, most of these folks don’t want you to know that they are just as clueless as you right now.

So, if this is familiar – I implore you to get back to the fundamentals of why you started your business in the first place. Time to re-validate; are you still relevant? Does the market still need what you offer? These are boardroom questions that need to be answered. And if you don’t have the stomach for it, then I guess you have your answer – don’t you?

Finally, I have heard some diagnose this time a ‘Black Death’ event as opposed to Black-Swan – but I don’t agree. If this were a Black Death event, all of your fates would be left to chance and determined by your immunity to a single pathogen; but that’s not the case here. You can survive, and indeed thrive, if you recognize or remember your firms’ identity, stay in your lane, and above all watch your 6 o’ clock – cause when some folks run out of food, animal instincts kick in and they/we start eating each other. And, then, my friends – stage 2 Black-Swan will become the Black Death. Stay Frosty.

Smalls gotta learn how to swim with the Sharks

For fiscal year 2013, this is the best graphical summation of the competitive federal procurement landscape that we could put together; no matter how you scratch it, Smalls will need to dive into the deep end to survive. Here’s why…

During FY 2012, civilian opportunities were valued at $12.8 billion and defense opportunities accounted for $5.6 billion. For FY 2013 these numbers have changed dramatically with defense opportunities valued at $9.5 billion and civilian opportunities totaling $2.5 billion.

Also, federal agencies are continuing to procure their requirements through small business set-asides more often than through other small business categories, such as 8(a) and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs).

SUMMARY TAKE-AWAY

  • Small business prime contracting spending has been on the decline.
  • Small businesses are being disproportionately affected by spending cuts.
  • The majority of this year’s top Small business opportunities will be procured by defense agencies.

AGENCY PROCURMENT STRATEGY

By utilizing small business set-asides, agencies can not only get credit toward their small business goals, but it also gives them leeway to award contracts to any category of small business for maximum control over meeting goals.

SMALL BUSINESS COUNTER-MEASURE

The net-effect to Smalls is fewer but larger opportunities, with more varying capability needs. To aggressively adjust to this shift, Smalls must form solution focused joint ventures – maintaining membership in a multiple simultaneously.

Aljucar & Co. | http://www.aljucar.com

BACKGROUND

As all of you know, there has been a major slowdown in government contractor revenue growth because of significant budget reductions. A special note was the muting of the typical fiscal year-end spending surge by federal agencies for 2010-11; and a significant amount of unobligated 2011 budget money – which was very unusual.

With presidential and congressional elections next year, as well as unfinished work on the 2012 spending bills – and the Budget Control Act of 2011; it will probably be 18 to 24 months before we have a good understanding of the budget levels in this new spending cycle. Nevertheless, Small Businesses still need to increase Brand Awareness in order to compete for an ever more anemic pool of contract opportunities.

Given this context, our goal is to help our VSBA membership to be more efficient in their marketing efforts without sacrificing ‘impact’ in building solid sales-pipelines.

The use of Web 2.0 tools and social media can significantly enhance your Small Businesses’ ability to communicate with the federal, state, and local government agencies about its mission. They can also assist you with marketing to the major prime suppliers of these same agencies.

CHALLENGE

Government procurement personnel require specific information to make purchase decisions. The current method used by Small Businesses to market their capability to government agencies is generally as follows:

  1. Prepare a Marketing Plan
  2. Setup a Company Website
  3. Setup your company profile in CCR
  4. Setup your company profile in ORCA
  5. Develop a Capability Statement (CS)/Briefing
  6. Develop Line-Card (products-only)
  7. Develop an eMarketing Brochure
  8. Prepare a Prospect List/Sales Pipeline
  9. Implement the Marketing Plan
  10. Contact, Agency Small Business Liaison (SBLs) and Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBUs)

Current challenges with these mediums are as follows:

  1. Market differentiation – developing a consistent Branding message is virtually impossible;
  2. CCR – maintains a lifeless generic presentation of company information;
  3. Company Websites – inconsistent presentations make it very unlikely that Customers/COs will take the time to review all Brand messaging;
  4. PDF CS/Line-Card – version control challenges and static presentation; and
  5. eMarketing Brochure/Capability Briefing – large files sent via email may be blocked since many agencies limit the size of email messages they can receive

SOLUTION

To resolve the above outlined problem-set and help Small-Business Government Contractors adapt social media to their marketing strategies and business processes, The Voice of Small Business in America (VSBA) has created ‘Government Contractor Central (GCC) © – Custom Pages’ on Facebook.

‘The Small Business Pages’© on Facebook provide a dynamic 3-for-1 value by virtually eliminating the need for the legacy CS/Briefing, Line-Card, and eMarketing Brochure while providing your firms the opportunity to present its capability.

Please see the ‘Sample Capability Statement’ link @ http://on.fb.me/sample-facebook-capability-statement to get a better idea of how your firms’ information will be presented and read the ‘Info’ page for detail on how this tool will heighten your brand awareness with Contracting Officers.

Don’t be left behind.

 

–          Rudy Sutherland

Founder & Chief Marketing Officer

The Voice of Small Business in America

 

P.S. Make sure to check out the “All New” VSBA platform on Facebook! Now, you can get to all of our media content from one place… One Voice…

Goto: http://on.fb.me/the-voice-of-small-business

 

Looking for a reliable, experienced multi-disciplined ED/WOSB firm to subcontract work too? Look no further than the 8(m) Consortium Joint Venture. Upload your requirement or cape statement @ http://8mc-jv.com .

 

So, just what is the 8(m) Consortium Joint Venture?

Good question.

 

Using a shared services back-office model to scale marketing, finance, administration, operations, and human resources; the 8(m) Consortium Joint Venture (8mC-JV) leverages the disparate past performance and collective capacity of its members to competitively pursue opportunities that are both SBA 8(m) set-aside as well as full & open at the federal procurement level.

 

Our primary goal is to create new and lucrative revenue streams together through cross promotion of expertise; increased geographic foot-print; and, creation of new and innovative products and services – to grow our member businesses strategically. Our members have capability and past performance in the following diverse and complementary disciplines and business sectors:

 

Accounting • Architect • Construction • Editing • Education • Engineering • Graphic Design • Information Technology • Legal • Marketing • Organizational Leadership • Program Management • Quality Management • Staffing • Statistical Analysis • Transportation • Travel Management • Waste Management

 

In addition, our program portfolio management team has many years of experience in crafting collaborative strategies to help teams of business owners, at various sizes and scales – to achieve their goals through innovative joint ventures. And, although governance normally follows equity, we did not ask our members who contributed assets to the joint venture to give up control of those assets. In the 8mC-JV, shared governance is the prevalent element. Furthermore, the 8mC-JV is structured with flexibility to allow joint venture member firms to participate in projects and contract opportunities according to their individual capability and availability.

 

LATEST FEATURES

 

1)      The Teaming templates are now available for download by firms (large & small) looking for an 8(m) Certified teaming partner on Federal opportunities that fit within the capability parameters of the 8mC-JV membership.

 

2)      Under the ‘Partners’ drop-down; prospective subcontractors can now upload their capability statements for review; and federal agency personnel can upload RFQ, RFI, and RFP offerings to the 8mC-JV membership for response. Phase II development will involve expanding the content under the first layer of links under the ‘Services’ drop-down.

 

So what are we doing next? We plan to begin publishing a whitepaper series, restart taping our podcast series “For Women Only” on Blog-talk Radio, aggressively advertising and marketing our capability to friends within the federal agency community – as well as with our major prime contractor relationships.

 

So, if you are interested in working with us, need support on a current contract, or are interested in becoming a member of the 8mC-JV (you must have a capability not possessed by our current membership) upload your Capability Statement @ http://www.8mc-jv.com/index.php/partners.

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