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Small Business Help For Getting Federal Business

The US federal government is the world’s largest purchaser of goods and services. While it does a majority of the dollars spent with large business it does have a mandate to do a portion of business with small business- 23 percent to be exact. Within this, there are further designations that businesses can utilize to get federal business should ownership match those designations.

Small Disadvantaged Business
Five percent of government business is designated for Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB). One program that helps SDB’s is the Small Business Administration 8(a) certification- a minority program. The 8(a) program gives minority businesses some advantages for getting contracts. It also includes designating 8(a) businesses as a SDB.

Women-owned Business
Five percent of federal civil purchases and contracts are to be done with women-owned businesses. There is no federal certification for women-owned business and a business may designate as woman-owned when registering in the federal government’s contractor database- Central Contractor Registration (CCR).

HUBZone Business
Three percent of government contracts go to businesses that reside in designated geographic areas. These areas are called a Historically Underutilized Business Zone or HUBZone. HUBZones are based upon an area’s unemployment rate and/or poverty rate as determined by the most recent census. Should any area’s rates be high, it could be designated as a HUBZone. Businesses which have its primary office and a percentage of employees residing in a HUBZone will be designated a HUBZone business by the SBA.

Service-disabled, Veteran-owned Business
Three percent of the civil government procurement is to go to service-disabled, veteran-owned small business concerns (SDVOBC). Like a women-owned business, there is no formal certification for a SDVOBC. They can self designate when registering as a federal vendor.

A business is not limited to one small business designation. As a matter of fact, a business should be encouraged to enroll in as many programs as they can. Federal purchasing can count a single purchase in multiple areas toward goals mentioned. Meaning if a business receiving a contract is 8(a), women-owned, and HUBZone, that a purchasing agent can count that one contract in all three areas to reach quota. Such small business designations are a huge boost to help get business with the federal government.

Is It That Time Of Year – Ugh, Business Planning

So a group of realtors got together last week at Keller Williams Coastal Properties for a business development meeting. Afterwards, the group gathered informally over pizza and wine to discuss other business related matters. A friend asked each of us their production numbers to date for 2009; and if we had started developing our business plans for 2010. One by one each person (with one exception) admitted that they had not started their 2010 planning.  Reluctantly I was one of those who acknowledged not having put any thought into next year’s business plan.  Ugh, I shutter at the thought!!

The following day I was retelling the story to another peer who is putting together a budget for Keller Williams Coastal Properties for 2010. I asked how she was going to do that without any input from the realtors regarding numbers and goals. That got me thinking as to the real value of these budgets, business plans and goal setting exercises. Logically I would think that a business would gather information from its sales and marketing arm, discount the projected sales numbers, and then develop the budget for the next year accordingly. Yes, but that is when you run straight into the problems with the brokerage business model … the sales team consist of all independent contractors who typically don’t bother projecting sales goals or writing annual business plans (save those few or those in coaching; but even then it might just be a meaningless activity or another ‘homework assignment’). So is there any value in these budgets and business plans? Or are we just putting numbers together that makes us feel good or so we have completed a task that others say is important? Is there a real value; and if so what is that value? I wonder how many people after writing their business plans for the next year actually go back and read the plans on a regular basis (daily, weekly, monthly)?

How about you … have you written your 2010 business plan yet? If not, are you resisting writing your plan? Why? You might even be asking yourself why do I even need to write a business plan every year?

Intellectually I understand that without a plan of action I basically have no ‘blue print’ for success in my business. Beyond the notion of a blue print though the exercise of writing my business plan forces me to evaluate the market, identify my resources, determine my budget, and prioritize my efforts so that I don’t waiver with every shift in the winds. If I truly go through the exercise, I can see the value of the plan given how this business (real estate) moves from one strategy to another depending upon what other people say is a trend. So after some thought I am committing to write my plan over the next thirty days. But saying I’m going to write my plan, albeit a good decision, involves me first identifying my resistance. Part of my why?

So why do I resist writing my plan? Well there are several reasons. First, I resist structure on several levels. I generally give considerable thought to where I’m headed and the implementation strategy to get to my goals. However, when I write down my production goals it gives me this instant accountability barometer with little or no wiggle room. Many people gravitate towards building accountability into their daily routine; however, I feel a sense of being trapped. Finally, in the past when I have written my business plan I never seem to read it again (after its finalization) – therefore it takes on this air of being a senseless exercise. In many ways it probably is why I never set New Years resolutions. I almost take this attitude that writing a business plan is analogous to completing a ‘homework assignment’. When I finish, then I’m done. Well that thought process misses the mark – the business plan should be my individual road map that is a living and breathing document. And, I should take it upon myself to review my plan daily, or at least weekly; and track my numbers each month. Furthermore, I should make it a habit to revise my business plan every quarter – at that time I will need to re-access the market, my production and my plan accordingly. 

Okay, I have admitted the reasons for my resistance … furthermore, I will admit that my resistance really does amount to being total garbage! So here I am exposing one of my achilles heels (one of many). So now what?

Well I have three different, but similar, realtor business plan templates. So that takes the mystery and mundane issues of development off the table. And yes, I do understand the process for realtors beginning with the numbers – look at last year’s numbers and understand them. Then begin with how much money one wants to make next year (GCI ['gross commission income'] or in other business parlance gross income), and work backwards to determine how many transactions it will take to earn the GCI numbers. Once you have the total number of transactions, then determine how many of each type of transactions (listings and buyers); how many days I plan on working; how many listings; the number of listing appointments it will take to close the number of listings required to reach your numbers; and finally how many calls it will take each day to reach my goals. This process is fairly easy to understand; but really what does that get you … it seems like an analytical justification of how much money you want to make over the next year (oftentimes not based upon any reality but your own mental wish list). So really what is the value in that exercise … well the heavy lifting is not in the numbers … but what the numbers suggest in combination to some additional factors. Factors that few coaches and advisors really focus on (they give it little if any consideration when evaluating the plan). Previous coaches spent all their time in the production numbers giving no consideration to the market trends, resources and business models. 

What would a few of these other factors be? Whether you are in real estate or another business these factors are relevant. Such factors as: 

·      What is your business model?

·      What is the current market doing?

·      What are the market drivers for each micro-market you are selling into?

·      Where is each market headed over the next year for the services you are providing?

·      What are the agents of change that will cause each micro-market to expand or contract? 

·      What are the agents of change inherent in your business plan itself?

·      What resources do you need to be successful given each micro-market?

·      Evaluate the costs, market potential and whether these individual micro-markets or strategies fit your skill sets, your business model, goals and long-term business vision?

So going through the mere exercise of putting production numbers down (i.e., revenue, costs and number of transactions) may be of little value taken by its self. But the process of developing the road map and understanding the playing field is the critical path that creates and sustains a world-class business. So as John Wooden once said “failure to prepare is preparing to fail” is sage and timeless advice for all of us – even for me as reluctant as I am at times.

Women Start an Internet Based Home Business For Many Reasons

One of the fastest and smartest way women can make money today is through starting an internet business, at least in my opinion. There are ten reasons why you should start an internet business but only one reason not to.

1. Cash- What is the one thing that everyone can use more of? Yep, its cash! You may want to get out of debt, save for retirement or just stay afloat, either way you likely need more money to do it. An internet business is in the unique position of place to start generating money immediately, if you have the right guidance.

2. Family Time- Many moms yearn to stay at home with their children. This is why a work at home job is perfect, unless you have to go out for parties, sales calls or appointments anyway. This leaves you in the same position, calling sitters and spending time away from the children. Thankfully, you can run your internet business from home.

3. Self Image- It is easy to be caught up in the job of your life being a mom, wife or community member and forget all about building self-esteem. Nothing will boost yourself image than starting and succeeding at your own business and this feeling will spread to all the people in your life.

4. Civic Duty- When you start a business the community you are a part of is better off. You show your children an awesome model to follow, pay taxes that go for necessary programs like fire departments, police and others. All of these things come together to create a community where hard work and pride reign. You may even inspire other women around you to start their own business as well.

5. Taxes- Do not forget all the handy savings you can enjoy with the tax breaks that come with a home business. Most women in business will be able to benefit from these breaks. More money, less taxes, it is hard to see a down side.

6. Household savings- Think about it, when you work from home you do not have to invest in a fancy wardrobe. The average professional attire for women can cost you over $150! And to top that all off most of these suits are dry clean only. How much money could go back into the family budget every year if you did not have this expense? Moreover, you will not be as prone to using expensive convenience foods and take out!

7. Schedule- When you work at home your time is your own. You can tend to a sick baby, wipe the tears of the broken hearted, go eat lunch with your child or just do nothing at all! You can even spend the day with your favorite book, when is the last time your boss let you off to read a book?

8. Layoffs- When you manage the business you are in charge of layoffs! That is not to say a home business will never fail, but at least it is your decisions that make the difference not somebody else’s.

9. Set Your Pay- The more you work your business the more potential income you can make. You do not have to settle for dollars an hour less than you are worth or prove you should have a raise; it is all in your hands. With the right training, you can take your hard work and persistence and combine them to make an unlimited income.

10. Sell, Sell, Sell- Build the business up and later down the road you can sell it for a profit! It is an investment like any other and if you make it highly successful, you will have no problem selling it for a good chunk of change. There have been sites that brought their owners hundreds of thousands of dollars and they started just like you, knowing very little about online business.

Now, that ONE reason NOT to start the business…

NEVER start a business to prove anything to someone else! Women feel so much pressure to be super moms that it is easy to get pressured into business too. You may not feel like you are a success unless you are generating a lot of money, have perfectly groomed children, are skinny as a model… ETC… Your business should be started for one reason and one reason only because you want to! The world, your family, in-laws or even your neighbor can go fly a kite. You have nothing to prove to the world or anyone in it. Running a full internet business from home is not for every person, but if your dream is to work at home and make good money, starting an online business is a great place to start.