Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Contracting Guide – A 10 Step Process to contracting with Civilian Agencies and DOD

1. Get Registered!!!!

Register your SDVOSB with the IRS. Obtain an EIN – Employee Indentification Number from the IRS – Do it online!!!!  Fast and Free!!!   www.irs.gov

Stop here before you pass "GO"


Register the Domain name of your SDVOSB
– www. “Your-SDVOSB-Name-Here”.com

– Ours is PrepFire Solutions, we registered www.prepfire.com There are a lot of different companies that can register your domain name, we have used www.godaddy.com and www.1and1.com – they can also help you develop your website and host your email for very low cost.

Obtain a DUNS Number. The Data Universal Number System (DUNS) Number is a unique nine character identification. Contact Dun and Bradstreet to obtain your DUNS number if you do not have one.

Register with Central Contractor Registration. In order to be awarded a contract from the DoD, you must be registered in Central Contractor Registration (CCR). CCR is a database which stores information relevant to procurement and financial transactions. CCR also allows you to receive rapid electronic payment of your invoices. CCR assumed all of SBA’s PRO-Net search capabilities and functions on January 1, 2004, so small businesses now need only to register with CCR.

2. Separate your SDVOSB from the pack

By identifying your product(s) or services as something unique or of good valve to the government, you separate yourself from the competition.  Knowing the Federal Supply Class or Service (FSC/SVC) codes and North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes for your products or services is of the utmost importance.

Separate Yourself From the Pack

3. Focus your attention on your target market or agency

Identify Your Target Market Civilian Agency or DoD. Researching DoD Personnel & Procurement Statistics will be very helpful to your SDVOSB. Pay particular attention the Standard Tabulation (ST) 28 report of products and services purchased each fiscal year by the DoD. The information on the ST28 is sorted by FSC/SVC code and provides name and location of DoD contracting offices. The ST28 report is located at the bottom of the Procurement Statistics page and can be cross-referenced with the list of Small Business Specialists within each service organization.

Aquire Your Target

4. Look for Opportunities!

Identify Current Civilian & DoD Procurement Opportunities Check the electronic version of the Federal Business Opportunities website to identify current procurement opportunities for your products or services. This site will assist you in identifying DoD, as well as other Federal procurement opportunities.

5. Familiarize Yourself with DoD Contracting Procedures

Make sure you are familiar with the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS).

6. Investigate Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) Contracts

Many DoD purchases are actually orders on Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts. Contact the General Services Administration (GSA) for additional information on obtaining FSS contracts.

7. Seek Additional Assistance as Needed

Take advantage of the resources available to assist you in the DoD marketplace. Here are just a few to get you started:

Procurement Technical Assistance Centers – Most states have Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) that are partially funded by DoD to provide small businesses with information on how to do business with the Department of Defense. These PTACs provide training and counseling on marketing, financial, and contracting issues with little or no cost to the SDVOSB.

Electronic BusinessElectronic Business (eBusiness) provides guidance for SDVOSBs new to the DoD electronic marketplace.

Small Business Specialists – Some Defense Agencies and the Military Services have small business specialists at each of their procurement and contract management offices. These business specialists assist small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned, in marketing their products and services to the DoD. Among the services offered, the business specialists provide information and guidance on the following:

– Defense Procurement Procedures
– Solicitation Mailing List Placement
– Identify Prime Contract and Subcontract Opportunities.

The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Defense Logistics Agency maintain the names of Small Business Specialists associated with their organizations. Links to these websites are below.

The official web site for the Department of Defense is DefenseLink. DefenseLink is the best place to find links to the Military Services and ODAs.

8. Explore All Sub-contracting Opportunities

No matter which products and services your SDVOSB offers, be sure to check out the DoD guide “Subcontracting Opportunities with DoD Prime Contractors”. This directory provides, by state, the names and addresses of DoD prime contractors, the names and telephone numbers of Small Business Liaison Officers (SBLOs), and the products and services supplied to the DoD.  Also research “The Fed 100” – which is the largest 100 Federal Government Contractors.

Sub-Contracting

The Small Business Administrations’s (SBA’s) SUB-Net is another valuable resource for obtaining information on subcontracting opportunities. Solicitations or notices are posted by prime contractors as well as other government, commercial, and educational entities.

9. Investigate Civilian & DoD Small-Business Programs

There are several DoD programs that are very helpful. Programs such as Veteran-Owned, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned, HUBZone, Small Disadvantaged, Woman-Owned, Small Business Innovation Research, Small Business Technology Transfer, and other Minority Institutions are of particular interest. Information on these and many other DoD Small Business Programs can be found on the DoD Office of Small Business Programs website.

10. Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

After you identify your customers, research their requirements, and become familiar with DoD procurement regulations and strategies, you will be ready to market your product or service. A good way to get the attention of your target audience is to present your capabilities directly to the DoD activities that buy your products or services. Additional helpful DoD marketing resources are posted on the DoD website, including “Government Contracting: The Basics” and “Marketing to the Department of Defense: The Basics”.

Marketing Funnel

The Service Disabled Veteran Own Small Business Guide to Google Apps

Google Apps for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses has a number of benefits over traditional business IT and desktop software. Using the full suite essentially places all of your data and entire workflow in the cloud, meaning you can access it all anywhere, any time, from any Internet connection (mobile phone, hotel, gas station, etc)

At $50 per year per user, the fully integrated apps system is certainly cost-effective and even adding the free versions of Gmail, Calendar, Tweet, and Google Docs into your workflow can keep your employees coordinated.

For more casual users, or even those who might not be acquainted with Google Apps, here’s a guide to how the software can benefit your small business.

GMAIL:

The many advanced features of Gmail make it really leap forward in the web-based e-mail space, and a lot of these are ideal for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB).

If you’re not ready to take the full plunge into the paid Google Apps suite, you can still configure Gmail to function as your business e-mail client through your existing domain name by following the steps outlined by Google under their “Help” section with Gmail.

The first big advantage of Gmail, like all the apps discussed here, is that it functions in the cloud. You don’t have to worry about downloading messages to multiple locations or syncing various devices. Your inbox will look the same from any web or mobile connection. And with 25 gigs of e-mail storage per user (with a paid apps account), it’s unlikely you’ll ever have to clean your inbox or delete old messages.

Gmail works a bit differently than traditional desktop email clients and webmail services by using what Google calls “threaded conversations.”  This means that e-mails with the same or related subject lines are grouped together in a thread so you can see all the messages sent and received on a topic in one place. When a new message is received, the entire thread is bumped to the top of your inbox, making tracking complex and multi-party conversations easy.

Gmail also has a chat feature built right into the interface that lets you send a quick update or discuss a project with an employee if you’re not in the same office. Chats are also stored in Gmail so that you can search and refer to them later.

Google search, the asset that started it all for the company, is of course built right into Gmail, which makes finding information from e-mail conversations (even very old ones) extremely efficient.

Additionally, Gmail Labs offers some extra settings for your inbox that can be extremely valuable for business use:

  • Signature Tweaks – puts your e-mail signature before the quoted text in a reply the way that Outlook would.
  • Title Tweaks – is a great feature that puts your unread message count first in the title of the inbox web page. If you have many windows open while you’re working, you’ll still be able to see when new messages arrive.
  • Default ‘Reply to All’ –  allows you to reply to group e-mails with one click, instead of from a drop-down menu.
  • Forgotten Attachment Detector – will notify you if you’ve mentioned an attachment in an e-mail, but forgotten to add one.
  • Undo Send – gives you a few seconds after sending a message to click “undo” in case you forgot something, or sent it to the wrong party by mistake.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar provides an efficient and intuitive way to keep appointments and events synced across your entire business. With calendar sharing and permissions (similar to those in Docs), you can add other employees’ calendars to your own, and vice versa, in order to see and manage the big picture of your team’s time.

For example, if an executive has an assistant, their calendars may be shared so that the assistant could manage his boss’s appointments remotely from his own account. It’s also a smart tool for coordinating meetings, calls, and shift staffing for multiple employees to avoid scheduling conflicts. Sharing multiple calendars with one “master calendar” creates a color-coded scheduling table for the coordinator that updates automatically when users make changes or additions.

The Calendar app can also be used to create events through Gmail. By adding your employees’ e-mail addresses to an event, they will receive an invitation to respond. Responding ‘yes’ automatically adds a shared event to your calendar that each invitee can view and add notes to. It’s a smart way to coordinate meetings and keep everyone in the loop.
Google Docs

Google Docs is a web-based suite for word processing, presentation building (similar to PowerPoint), spreadsheets, and web forms. All the work is done in a web browser, and all the data is saved in the cloud.

The software can be a bit quirky at times, which may frustrate users of more stable products like Microsoft Office, but the payoff in online storage, share-ability, and collaboration options may be worth the adjustment for many SDVOSB’s.

Because the data is online, streamlined document sharing and collaboration are big perks with Google Docs. Any file you’re working on can be shared with individual team members, or the entire group within the apps system. You can also set permissions for specific users to view and edit documents. And, multiple users can simultaneously view and edit documents, which can be useful for real-time collaborative projects or presentations during conference calls. You can also grant permission for those outside your office network to view and edit documents, which can be especially useful for sharing information and presentations with clients or colleagues.

As you create and share documents, your Google Docs dashboard may start to get a little messy. Be sure to create folders to keep your work organized just as you would on your desktop. You can also share entire folders if you need to collaborate on multiple documents related to the same project.

Google Sites

Google Sites is a drag-and-drop web development tool that you can use within your business’s apps to create online information hubs for employees. The websites you create exist within your Google Apps domain, can be public or private, and permissions for employees to add, change, and contribute information can be set from the main account.

Beyond simply being a WYSIWYG web editor, Sites makes it easy to integrate data from other Google Apps into dynamic pages that team members can use to collaborate on projects. Integrating spreadsheets or data charts from Docs, a deadline schedule from Calendar, and team-specific messages from Gmail could essentially create a one-stop project dashboard full of dynamically updating information.

Sites here can be purely functional or informational, or with the aid of some built-in templates or a good designer, a full-fledged dynamic public website for your business that team members have easy access to.

Google Groups

Google Groups have long been public forums where users across the web gather to discuss specific interests or get technical support. Groups for small business brings that same functionality into your private internal network.

E-mail can sometimes be cumbersome when coordinating a team. When you need a central space to collect ideas and share documents (but you’re not interested in building a web page in Sites), Groups offers a solution.

Employees can create discussion groups on their own and subscribe, either by e-mail or via a Groups dashboard, which lists new posts like a news reader.

Rather than e-mails going out to individual inboxes, a group thread remains visible to all of your subscribed team members, and users can go back to it for reference, to add more information, and even share docs and calendars.

Using Groups for business discussions and project management creates a communal and searchable database of information that employees can go back to whenever needed.

Google Apps Marketplace

Google’s recently launched Google Apps Marketplace allows developers of other business web apps to integrate their offerings with Google and sell software directly to Google Apps users. The marketplace currently has over 50 partners, including Intuit, Zoho, and Aviary This additional space for third-party software means that Apps users will have even more options to tailor their suite for specific business purposes.

Great Integration Across All Google Portals

While each app has worthwhile features, perhaps one of the best advantages is the way that they all integrate with one another.  Documents and appointments can be easily shared via e-mail, and your inbox can be used as a portal for productivity via embeddable widgets, chat, and other notifications.

If your SDVOSB (service disabled veteran owned small business) is ready for a web-based, collaboration-minded IT solution, Google Apps is certainly a cost-effective way to go, and you can investigate the free versions simply by signing up for a Gmail account to determine if the suite is right for your workflow.

Starting a SDVOSB or VOSB? Here is some good free stuff to help!

If you are interested in starting a SDVOSB or VOSB…or you if have already started one. We would recommend that you try to base your company on a cloud computing model to keep your overhead low. When I say “cloud computing”…what does that mean? Cloud computing means that the software that you are using is hosted off site at a data center rather than residing on your computer. A great example of this is Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo Mail. Many of the computer services that were the standard offering of the last 10 years and cost a lot of money (Email Hosting, Web Hosting, Customer Relationship Management “CRM” Software, Accounting Software, Payroll Service, File Sharing, etc) are now free or very low cost. So how do you find these services and make them work for you? Well, here is a list of some of the software and services that we use or looked into that might prove useful to you and your start up venture.

Communication/E-mail
Gmail: Easy to use (highly recommended)
Dimdim: open-source web conferencing application; free basic service
I Want Sandy: keeps track of daily details
Jott: voice-to-text service for creating notes, lists, e-mails and text messages; free basic service
Oovoo: video messaging, chatting and conferencing
Paltalk: group IM, chat and video call application
Plugoo: direct chatting with any blog or site visitor
YouSendIt: send files up to 2GB; free basic service

Storage
Adrive: 50GB of online storage and backup for all file types; free basic service
JZip: data compression utility
Mozy: 2GB of online, data and remote backup solutions; free basic service

Financial
BizEquity: company valuations
Mint: personal finance, money management, budget planning and financial planning software
MyBizHomepage: financial dashboard for small business QuickBooks users
QuickBooks: small-business accounting software; free download (Simple Start 2008)
Wesabe: financial advice, analysis and planning

Content/Media/Video
Audacity: open-source software for cross-platform audio recording
Blip.tv: video blogging, podcasting and video sharing service; free basic service
BlogTalkRadio: radio network for users to host their own shows
DropShots: video hosting and photo sharing
FeedBurner: media distribution services for blogs and RSS feeds
Fix My Movie: video enhancement service; free basic service
Paint.NET: image and photo editing software
Phixr: picture and photo editor
Seesmic: video conversation platform
SlideShare: share and embed slideshows, PowerPoints and PDFs into web pages
VideoSpin: video-editing software

Marketing/Networking/PR
Blogger: blog publishing tool
Word Press: This is what we use for our blog
Craigslist: online classifieds and job postings network
CollectiveX: create social networking and collaboration sites for groups
Entrepreneur Connect: Entrepreneur’s social networking site
LinkedIn: business social networking site
Pligg: open-source, community-centric site for discovering, rating and sharing content
PolicyMap: geographic and demographic information system for creating custom maps, tables and charts; free basic service
YouNoodle: networking for startups and valuation with Startup Predictor
Your Pitch Sucks?: PR pitch reviewing and advising
Twitter: It is a free way to update customers/employees on what is happening in your world

Office Productivity/Organizational
Adobe Buzzword: collaborative word processor application
CutePDF Writer: PDF creator; free basic service
Dabble DB: create, manage and share online databases; free basic service
Doodle: schedule and coordinate meetings and other appointments
FreshBooks: invoicing, time-tracking and expense service; free basic service
Google Calendar: shareable calendar and schedule organizer
Google Docs: collaborative word processor and spreadsheet applications
OpenOffice.org: open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets and more
Stikkit: organization and reminder system that integrates with productivity applications
SurveyMonkey: create and publish custom online surveys; free basic service
ThinkFree Office: office productivity suite; free basic service
WuFoo: HTML form builder for creating interactive forms; free basic service
Zoho: office, productivity and collaboration applications (This is a must see…ZOHO Rocks!!!)

Project Management/Collaboration
LogMeIn: remotely support and access digital information; free basic service
ProjectStat.us: project management solution and updates
Project2Manage: collaborative project management solution
Remember the Milk: task management solution and to-do lists
Socialtext: wiki and website collaboration; free basic service
Team Task: collaborative project management and community website builder
Yugma: web meeting and collaboration service

Security
Adeona: open-source laptop tracking and recovery software
BitDefender Online Scanner: virus scanners; free basic service
ZoneAlarm: firewall protection from hackers and threats; free basic service

Web
Google Alerts: e-mail updates based on choice of query or topic
KickApps: platform of applications to integrate social features into a website
Microsoft Office Live Small Business: create a company website, domain and e-mail; free basic service
Synthasite: web hosting and building
Weebly: website and blog creator
Widgetbox: web widgets for various applications
Woopra: web tracking and analysis application; free basic service

As always, I hope this helps. Please email me if you have any questions or comments about any of the software. Also feel free to contact me regarding SDVOSB questions or comments.

R/S,
Joel Stevens
PrepFire Solutions
joel@prepfire.com