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The Joy of Checklist

When you think "checklist", what's the next word that comes to mind?

"Joy" isn't usually it. Here's why it was for me here this week (and should be more often elsewhere, too).

In many parts of my life, my decision-making and my process flow are not exactly linear. (This is the point at which I can hear my husband snicker ever so politely). Upside: my random path is often filled with creative adventures. Downside: if I'm also anxious for results, and concerned about wasting precious resources, a structured approach is my friend.

Graduation Season: Are You Ready?

About to graduate 8(a)? Our tips include to seek out established mid-tier partners as mentors and subcontractors.

Whether or not you’re 8(a), these tips give every small federal contractor something to think about when you don’t want to be small forever.  

Just today, I was talking to a marketer for an 8(a) company that’s just about a year from graduation. “We’re very busy trying to close all the business we can,” she said.

“What’s the one big thing that would make that easier?” I asked her.

Is Your Business Intelligence A House Of Cards?

business intelligence pile of cards

4 Steps To Change.

How much intelligence is your sales team really uncovering?

You've spent all that money on a CRM system. And now you’ve got a ton of records full of "Met Client" or "Left Message" entries. What does that tell you? Not much. So what should you, as the business owner, be seeing (and doing) as you wait for the sale close?

Your sales team needs to gather and communicate with you the actionable intelligence they uncover from their client connections and prospecting contacts.

Got "Squirrel!" Brain? Get the Fast Cure for Federal Business Frenzy.

"squirrel!":shorthand for every kind of federal business distraction. Here's how to cure that.

By the time Federal small business contractors start to have some success, they’ve gained a certain amount of self-awareness. Which is to say, they often know what’s wrong: they just don’t know how to fix it.

“I will always remember the conversation I had with a triumphant business owner. She was all excited because she had just won her first federal contract. Out of curiosity, I asked her: how many proposals did she submit before she won that first one? “Thirty-nine,” she said cheerfully.

The Six Stages of Sale Grief

(And how to get past them)

Once upon a time, a client project put me between a rock and a very hard place. My commitment was to advise on federal sales. Partway in, the project goals were clarified, and I was told that I needed to make to make federal sales calls for them.

Please understand, dear readers:
This is not my core competence. It's not on my web site. You cannot hire me to do this.
But I needed the work.

I was suddenly in the throes of The Six Stages of Sales Grief:

10 Signs That It's Time For Reverse Auction

Federal reverse auctions can open the big doors of federal agencies for vendors

Despite federal budget woes and close scrutiny from the Administration, reverse auction – the ultimate Race To The Bottom – is actually becoming more popular among federal buyers.

Tough price competition isn’t a winning strategy for many vendors. So, how do you decide when reverse auctions can open big doors for your business?

Actually, there are ten clues.

How To Tap The Surprising Expert on Capability Statements

Here she is, hidden in plain sight: a capability statement expert

There are plenty of companies that are offering to create or review your capability statement – for a fee. But even if the people you hire to help you used to work for the federal government, their advice usually has one major shortcoming:

They’re not your customer.

Business owners often ask me if there’s a standard template for a capability statement. No, there isn’t. And while there are standard elements you need to include, I often find that seasoned experts even disagree about those.

Cracking The Sole Source Code

Row of light bulbs, just one lit

Time after time, I hear business owners saying, “I can never win at that Federal agency. The Contracting Officers (CO’s / KO’s) only want to work with HUBZone, 8(a), Veterans, or (soon) women-owned, businesses they can sole source to.”

Don’t get discouraged; get the facts. USASpending.gov reports that in 2014, only 3% of the total federal spending in any of the small business programs was awarded without competition. In short, what they’re saying isn’t what they’re doing. So what’s going on?