How to Compete for Federal Contracts

Congratulations!  You’ve taken the first steps to launch your first enterprise.  Now it is time to build the team that will support your business and to register online to conduct business with the Federal Government.  At a minimum, you will need to establish a relationship with a banker and legal counsel as well as obtain a DUNS number to register your company to do business for Federal contracts.  There may be other relationships you need to establish based on your needs such as an accountant, an insurance broker, or an Government Contracting specialist and etc.  It is important to develop a team that is available when you need them and are responsive.

1.  Establish a bank account for your business.  There are several banks that service small businesses.  There are several banks that cater to small businesses.  I am currently using two different banks.  They are Access National Bank https://www.accessnationalbank.com/home/home and Capital One http://www.capitalone.com/small-business-bank/.

I selected Access National Bank for Whetstone Security Group, Inc since WSG was established as primarily a Federal Contractor for Government proposals.  I also wanted a small business-friendly bank with Government Contracting experience.  To that end, Access National Bank is geared to small businesses and has solid experience in supporting Government contractors.

For Connectify Social, my partners and I chose Capital One.  I was impressed with Capital One as they hosted a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) forum at their offices in Tysons Corner, Virginia, explaining Capital One’s services to the SDVOSB community.

Whatever banking solution you chose, look for banks that make you feel like a valued customer and that can support and understand your business goals.

2.  Obtain a DUNS Number.  Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) provides a D-U-N-S Number for all businesses required to register with the US Federal government for contracts or grants; this is a free service. http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform/displayHomePage.do;jsessionid=81407B1F03F2BDB123DD47D19158B75F

3. Register with SAM.  The System for Award Management (SAM) is the Official U.S. Government system that allows a Government Contracting Officer to find your business status, banking information, and your representations and certifications (I’ll get more into this on another post).  It is within SAM that you will self-certify your business as a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, a Woman Owned Small Business, a Veteran Owned Small Business, and etc. https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/##11

Remember, you need to have a Veterans Administration disability rating to self-certify as an SDVOSB.  The minimum is a zero percent disability rating.  That’s right!  You can be rated with a zero percent rating to self-certify as a SDVOSB.  There is also an SDVOSB verification for doing business with the Veterans Administration (VA).  This certification is through the Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) http://www.vetbiz.gov/, but CVE certification is not required (normally) to do business with the rest of the Federal Government.  I’ll post more about the CVE process with the VA in the future.  There are legal considerations that must be in detailed in your business to pass the CVE process.

You can validate your status or apply if you have a disability that arose during your military service at the VA’s website https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/

4.  Search for Government Contracting Opportunities.  You can now search the Government website www.fbo.gov to search for contracting opportunities and build your pipeline.

5. Find Like-Minded Entrepreneurs.  There are a plethora of resources available online and through local organizations.  There are blogs, podcasts, and websites specifically for entrepreneurs.  Build or find a community that will support you.  I highly recommend joining a Veteran’s organization such as The SDVOSB Counsel.  The counsel is there to help Veteran and SDVOSB’s achieve success through a host of activities and political action.  They have already been contacted by several Government organizations to find SDVOSBs for procurement activities.  https://www.sdvosb-council.org/

Do not wait another day to live the life you want.  You have everything you need to launch your business today!

With Love and Respect,

Gary

 

The Basics

What are the essential elements needed to start your business journey?

There are thousands of online sources available to you but a good starting point is the Small Business Administration. (Concerning writing a business plan, you may have to write one at some point, but do not let it stand in your way — take action today).  http://www.sba.gov/content/follow-these-steps-starting-business

Most of these steps can be completed in a manner of minutes (please perform your due diligence).

1.  What do you want to do?  If you have business experience, a hobby, or something that you have a passion for, use it as the base to determine the type of business you would like.

2. Name your business. Check to see if the name of your business is available – I believe all States provide this service.  In Virginia where I live, you can check for name distinguishability at https://sccefile.scc.virginia.gov/NameAvailability

3. Choose the Type of Entity. Determine what type of entity will work best for your business e.g. Limited Liability Corporation, Corporation, and etc.

For WSG, we chose to be incorporated as an S corporation; for Connectify Social, we chose an Limited Liability Corporation.  You need to decide what will work best for you.  http://www.sba.gov/content/business-structure-and-tax-implications

4.  Register with Your State. Register your business through your State Corporation Commission.   http://www.scc.virginia.gov/clk/formfee.aspx

5. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Apply-for-an-Employer-Identification-Number-%28EIN%29-Online

6.  Obtain a Business License. Check with your local Government to obtain a business license.  Local Governments generally have resources available to help you launch your business.

Obviously these are just the initial steps to start your journey, but your business will soon be growing and evolving in remarkable ways and directions you might not have expected.

Here’s to you and your new business venture!

Gary

Business Partners

Developing and making your business profitable can be an overwhelming task, but you needn’t take the journey on alone.  The right partner or partners can help the business develop momentum and velocity to move forward.

For example, I am now engaged with two businesses — crazy, right?  One is Whetstone Security Group where I serve as president and CEO and am the majority shareholder and the other is Connectify Social where I own 30 percent of the company and … am president of the company (I have reservations about overextending myself and do not plan on retaining this title for the long-term).

For WSG, the company was founded by two other partners and myself.  My partners are absolutely great people and I trust them completely.  We all come from the intelligence world and have similar visions on how we want WSG to evolve – placing integrity, innovation, and people first.  Each of the partners enhance the company by bringing different skill sets and strengths that help balance out the areas where we each have individual weaknesses – a win/win situation.  However, we recently transferred some ownership shares to bring aboard two new partners.  Our new partners have added new energy and are providing great ideas on how WSG can evolve.  I truly believe it is better to add partners/teammates to reach your goals and generate momentum rather than try to hold all the company.  Of course, there is a point where adding addition partners might not make sense financially or operationally, but do be open to the possibility.

For Connectify Social, it was an idea I had and wanted to bring partners aboard to push the business vision forward.  I knew I could not launch the business alone; I simply did not have the time or brain cells to bring it to reality.  I chose my partners based on trust, drive, personality, and to be truthful — because I like and respect them.  It was an easy decision to give away 66 percent of the company because I know they will drive the company forward.  This leaves me time to primarily focus on WSG while launching another business!

So, if you are having trouble launching and need to put your goals back on track, considering bringing the right people onto your team.  It is much better to launch the company with partners who can move you forward than let your vision lay fallow!

With Love and Respect,

Gary

 

Getting Started

With any new challenge, just getting started is the hard part.  So how do you turn your business idea into reality?  My advice is to not over think it.  Over thinking or waiting until you have the perfect solution, plan, partners, and etc. is a prescription for inaction and unrealized dreams.

Step 1.  Write down your vision of how your business will look, feel, smell like (especially useful if you are opening a bakery), the culture you wish to establish and your financial goals.

Step 2.  Working backwards, mark out milestones for your business over the next 12 months.

Step 3.  Take action – launch the business and get started.  Trust me, you will work out the details as you build out your business.

Step 4.  Take action each and every day.  Action will keep your dreams alive; inaction leads to the death of dreams.

Step 5.  Do not let resistance defeat you.  Resistance is your enemy.  Keep step 4 alive by doing something for your business each and everyday.

Starting a business really is easy as that.  Really.

I’ll go into more detail on further posts.

You can do this and succeed.

With Love and Respect,

Gary

 

 

Entrepreneurs – Veteran and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSB) (SDVOSB)

My name is Gary and I am a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Owner and entrepreneur.

My passion is helping others live their dreams.

This blog is for anyone who is ready to take action to pursue their dreams.  Although, I will be focusing on veteran entrepreneurs, this community will be for all those who thinking about or have already launched their own business.

This blog will be partly about how to establish your business and my person journey as a business owner.   The first several posts will be about how to start.  Doing anything worthwhile takes time and commitment and launching a business will certainly take persistence.  My motto is take action every day!  No matter how big the project, as long as you stay consistent and persevere, you will eventually succeed.  I was recently listening to James Altucher’s audiobook “Choose Yourself.”  He said that you should keep failing until your accidentally succeed; I love that. http://www.jamesaltucher.com/

In July of 2012, my two partners and I launched a Service Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business.  It wasn’t until late in 2013 that we finally had enough structure in place to pursue our first proposal and have just won a contract.  We also have several bids outs and are awaiting the results. One is where we had to hustled to pursue a Department of Homeland Security Customs (DHS) and Border Protection (CBP) opportunity after our prime decided to no bid at the last minute.  We contacted another company 1000 miles away and found a new partner with enough past performance to make a credible bid.  Our new partner would not have gone after the bid if we had not contacted them.  Sometimes things go wrong and you have to hustle to pursue your goals.

In April of this year, I formed another company with two partners that will engaged in Social Media Marketing.  I will share with you lessons I’ve learned and the challenges faced in launching a start up.

For veterans, your military service will benefit you starting and managing your business. Regardless if you have spent time in military or not, the time to begin is right now!  Please believe me, you have everything you need to succeed and live your dream.  I hope this blog can help in some small way on your journey to success.

Very Respectfully,

Gary