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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Maximizing Free Social Media Utilities to Promote Your Small Business







Utilize social media to promote your small business. The process requires a front-end loaded investment in time, but it is well worth the effort when using free or very low cost utilities on the Internet. The return may surprise you.

Set up a Google or Word Press blog as an extension of your web site.  A blog is quite different from a web site. Provide good, solid information free of charge and use blog searches for synergistic businesses to team with. Teaming is an absolute necessity these days. 

SmallBusiness Teaming 

Be prepared to provide information, samples and valuable service gratis as a marketing tool. Introduce yourself and then immediately engage the client or potential teaming partner with your presentation tools available to bring your expertise to whatever topic they are interested in. 

Let them take you where they want to go with their concerns and their needs. Apply your presentation tools and expertise dynamically The idea is to refer clients to article links at your web site and your blog to avoid having to repeat yourself over and over in new business marketing, thereby keeping yourself available for specific inquiries and closing deals. 

Link everything together and begin answering questions as well as registering at many of the free applications for networking web sites on the Internet to see how that can benefit your product and services. Utilities like Twitter, Alignable, Pinterest and About Me will serve your site well. 

You may wish to consider Google Ad Sense for cash flow.  It is free and could supplement your income with ads in the margin of your blog. 

Integrating and networking platforms together is the best approach. Most of the free applications of the type discussed here have profile features to link back to your blog and many will automatically publish your content on their site, once linked. 

Content is king and the queen is a hub of strong useful information with spokes emanating from it like those of a wheel to many free social networking platforms where your brand, your consistency and your offerings drive the engine that is your enterprise.

Please see the below link for an example of how the above principles have achieved. 

Integrated Utilities Linked as a Composite on "About Me" 


Monday, March 18, 2019

BUSINESS ETHICS FEED GOVERNMENT RECORDS OF PAST PERFORMANCE




INTRODUCTION

Previous discussions at this site have emphasized the importance of maintaining a solid past performance rating to meet award criteria used by every federal agency when granting small business contracts.

Your Past Performance Record

We have also highlighted the importance of maintaining solid ethical business practices in dealing with customers and industry partners.

Maintaining an Ethical Company Image

This article will discuss the practical aspects of achieving the above, the associated challenges and how not meeting them can jeopardize your industry reputation and business success.  

IGNORANCE ON POLICY AND REGULATORY MATTERS IS NOT AN EXCUSE

The small business faces a front-end-loaded and ongoing learning challenge in understanding the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), Cost Accounting Standards (CAS), Unallowable Costs, Organization Conflict of Interest (OCI) many other similar policies the federal government invokes. 

A continuous learning process must include evaluating the impact of these requirements, developing consistent processes and systems to meet and maintain them or risk poor ratings on proposals, audits and performance; even the denial of an invoice payment.

In short, the government has the right to audit, examine and approve your internal operations for conformance to the law before granting a contract or paying a bill.  These are not preferences by contracting officers.  They are federal contracting laws.

The astute small business learns the law and incorporates compliance in its business practices.

CONTRACTING PERSONNEL IN ACQUISITION ROLES HAVE VARYING LEVELS OF KNOWLEDGE & PROFESSIONALISM

The US Government and its prime contractor cadre form a massive professional base.  Although they conduct training in policy and regulation to their acquisition professionals, these professionals are rotated frequently and/or encounter contracting authority as only one role among many in their principal professional endeavors.

Government Contracting Roles

Small business systems are unique to a company.  Documenting them and conveying their compliance to regulations in a clear, lucid way to auditors, agency buyers/contracting officers and other government customers is a vital part of avoiding misunderstandings regarding compliance issues.  

An additional concern with prime contractors is protecting intellectual and proprietary data, such as rates and factors, while participating in the assist audit process used by the government to avoid risk of undesirable disclosure from one firm to another.

If, during the course of marketing, proposing and negotiating government contracts with government and prime contractor personnel, a small business encounters lack of professionalism, misunderstanding of the regulations or defiance of them, the occurrence must be escalated to higher authority with tact, judgment and the long term objective of not only obtaining new business, but staying in business. 

Managing Government Teaming Relationships

DISCLOSURES ARE MANDATORY

Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)  52.203-13 in 2008 made mandatory that contractors must disclose past, present or pending violations of contract law to the government.   Not adhering to this requirement can be costly in terms of poor past performance records, legal expenses and financial judgments.

FAR 52.203-13 (3) - Mandatory Disclosure

The Truth in Negotiations Act

TRAINING IN GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS IS A GOOD INVESTMENT

As fast as things move these days if we don't train and communicate effectively we are running very high risks.  The modern era in which we live demands that training be sophisticated, interactive and responsive to changing times. It should evolve out of core company processes and contain feedback mechanisms.

Some training will be global, such as policy, corporate ethics and human relations. Other training will be specialized, such as changes in law, company policy or technology by functional areas.


Principal among the topics at the head of the list for generic training in the art of something would be "Communicating Effectively" to employees to customers, to regulators; both orally and in writing.

Small Business Company Trainng

SUMMARY

Small business must evaluate regulations then communicate and enunciate a company ethics policy and processes that insure compliance with laws and regulations, training personnel on them in the process.

In doing so, disclosures will then be positive and the business will not become an entry in the Project on Government Oversight's Contractor Misconduct Data Base or the subject of negative press releases by a government agency. (Examples below)

Federal Contractor Misconduct Data Base

Portrait of a Crooked Government Contractor

Star Power And The Military Industrial Complex



Sunday, March 17, 2019

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FREE-LANCER AND A SMALL BUSINESS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRACTOR


Image: "Gwen Fox"


“SIZE MATTERS”

 INTRODUCTION

Talented free lancers often wish to grow independently as individuals in the government contracting market and face difficulties in doing so. Many have service and product development skills of value to federal agencies, but few succeed without forming a company and beginning to view their objectives as an enterprise instead of a single person entity. 

This article will examine the principal differences between free lancing and small business contracting from the perspective of the market realities that drive success in the venue.

DEFINITIONS:

We have previously discussed the organization entities that are involved in federal government contracting:


Free Lancer:

A particular type of individual – the “Free Lancer”, finds his or her way to the federal market via established companies and performs single person services while not on a company payroll as an employee, having no taxes, benefits or deductions taken from their pay and not covered by any form of insurance.

The company issues a purchase order to the individual at an hourly rate and submits a Form 1099 to the US government reporting what is paid for services. The free-lance contractor must self-insure during the contract period and pay taxes on the money earned at the end of the tax year. Little, if any intellectual property protection exists for the individual and the larger firm may require non-disclosure, exclusivity and noncompete agreements that may limit the future efforts of the free-lancer.

Contractor

The term “Contractor” in government parlance refers to businesses, not individuals. To become a contractor to a government agency, you must therefore form you own business. Government agencies rarely engage individual contractors or free-lancers.  If they want individuals to perform services they put them on the agency payroll. If they want to acquire specialized outside services they contract with companies. 

Subcontractor

A subcontractor is a company that takes on a flow-down of liability from a prime contractor to complete a major portion of a large scale job for the prime contractor's customer. The subcontractor is obligated to the prime contractually in an identical fashion as the prime is obligated to the government agency. The prime contractor issues a subcontract with a statement of work and flow down terms and conditions from the prime contract to the subcontractor. In many instances the government requires review and approval of major subcontractor selections and holds the prime contractor accountable contractually at the prime contract level for the subcontractor(s) efforts.  Free-lancers and contractors, as described above, rarely become subcontractors.

The Necessity to Grow From a Free Lancer to a Contractor and/or a Subcontractor

Although talented professions may believe there is growth in the market for high performing individuals, the government contracting industry has very little room for them except in specialty roles and then usually only temporarily.  Prime contractors also view Free Lancers as interim performers of a short term variety and usually offer them the option of joining the company or moving on.  The government tends to view them as “Roosting” and not long term in reliability.

No past performance record is kept on individual Free Lancers by the government or prime contractors under FAR.  Such records pertain only to incorporated entities.  Companies bringing free lancers on board cannot claim their historical work as credible under government past performance guidelines until the individual has contributed to the company success as an employee, losing his free -lancer status in the process except for resume and organization chart purposes on future projects. 

With federal agencies there is a strong movement to issue umbrella, multiple year, long- term contracts, many to multiple sources for qualification and then order services as required with bundled capabilities in teams of companies.  Free Lancers do not qualify for such efforts without a company identity.

On cannot acquire a GSA schedule as a Free Lancer.  Once must form a company and apply as a business entity to achieve that form of marketing vehicle. 

Further, the government hesitates to become involved in contracting with individuals unless they are heavily insured and such insurance costs heavily for individuals and in many cases cannot be achieved at all.  

Therefore, to progress economically and independently the Freelancer must incorporate, form an enterprise and begin to thinking in terms of a company entity in lieu of a single person image for the future.  This can be achieved by adding personnel via incumbent work forces, using contingent hire agreements or engaging in product development with industry partners and government financing.  The following articles at this site provide details:





SUMMARY

For stability, growth, cash flow, industry reputation and partnering, past performance consideration and economics, consider the transition from a single individual free-lancer to a company.  Brand your company and not yourself and think bigger than you are in terms of involving others in your operations to best position your supplies and services in the federal contracting market.